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It’s blatherskite! Podcasts plan to save endangered dialects | Language

What weather is it? Is he, perhaps, “flanked”? The old Scottish word for a prospect who promises to improve, but doesn’t. It’s a term to know, for sure. But if you don’t hear it anymore, what are the chances of you remembering it?

Accepting this linguistic challenge, activists are now taking action to bring these threatened dialect words back to life. And the first step, they say, is to encourage their use by popular podcasters and regional broadcasters.

An experimental program to boost endangered regional vocabulary will see examples “adopted” by prominent public voices. A group of leading podcasters have agreed to sponsor a word chosen from those identified as being on the brink of extinction by the British Library. Regional broadcasters are also invited to join participating podcast shows, which include The Lost Tapes of History and Black history buffwhose hosts have agreed to “adopt” a favourite, whether they use it themselves or not.

“English, Welsh and Scottish surveys of word usage were carried out in the 20e century because people were worried about the decline of dialect terms and regional grammar,” said Jonnie Robinson, Senior Curator of Spoken English at the British Library and adviser to the project.

“In face-to-face conversations, we all use a language different from our more formal vocabulary, and depending on where you grew up and whether you still live there, many rarer words are understood today. They make part of group bonds and our sense of identity. A common example would be the rival vocabulary used in a semi-formal context by schools for the right shoes for playgrounds. You might need tennis, court shoes or daps, depending on where you live.

The drive to prevent terms such as “scrammed-up”, a Devonian expression for being very cold, or “blatherskite”, a Durham word for gossip, from falling completely out of language is led by Steady, a website independent publishing company behind a UK podcast network. In consultation with Robinson, the company shortlisted 25 endangered words and phrases which were cross-checked against contemporary regional newspapers and social media posts to confirm the apparent obsolescence.

“Words from regional dialects are particularly at risk because more of us do not live where we were born,” said Kerrie Fuller, host of The Lost Tapes of History. “We learned to use the language of our new tribe because it is part of integrating with those around us.” Fuller promises that the third series of his podcast, which will be released next year, will include an episode in which Samuel Johnson appoints a lexicographer to help him compile his famous early dictionary. “He’ll mention all 25 words, much to the dismay of the new employee,” Fuller said. Perhaps he will react with a fit of “yewcums”, an almost forgotten term for hiccups in Shropshire.

Dr. Tina Dingel, German CEO of Steady, has loved the English language since her student years at the University of St Andrews, and she wants to preserve the breadth of the lexicon. Speaking from Berlin, Dingel said she checks Merriam Webster’s Daily Word every morning and worries about shrinking language use due to computer algorithms.

“Of course language changes naturally and we’re not trying to stop that, but there’s value in variety and real fun in phonetics. Our experience is fueled by the playfulness of words, especially in difficult times,” she said. Noting the BBC’s planned cuts in regional radio broadcasting, Dingel added that she wanted live news presenters to take up the challenge: “We wanted to see if we could play with the system to provoke discussion on a old form of popular speech.”

Its new platform allows UK and European podcasters to charge for their content, but anyone who has an audio show, show or podcast, is invited to speak a chosen word, or simply incorporate it into their speech. . It will be considerably easier to work in ‘paddocked’, a Lancashire term for thirsty, than to use ‘hoddy-dods’, once a common Essex term for snails.

“There’s a nostalgic appeal to the words we associate with older generations,” Robinson said, “but I find that when someone says a particular word isn’t used anymore, someone else soon says he heard it last week.” And Robinson believes it is possible to promote a provincial word on the main stage. He points to Sheffield’s term for someone sulky, “mardy bum”, which appears in DH Lawrence’s novels, and which has become more widely recognized since it was used in an Arctic Monkeys hit song. Similar regional dialect expressions can be heard from across England, Wales and Scotland in the British Library’s sound archive.


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