What do a “ginnel” and a “twitten” have in common? They are both local words meaning an alleyway – but are popularly used at opposite ends of England.
They are among a dozen regional words chosen for inclusion in 12 new poems on National Poetry Day on 28 September.
One of the poems uses all 12 words, including “dimpsy” and “mardy”, and will be read out on BBC radio.
The Oxford English Dictionary will include some of the words for the first time in its next edition.
Ginnel – which does already appear in the OED – is possibly the most widely-known of the words as it is regularly used by characters in Coronation Street, having long been a popular term in both Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
The words – which also include “gurt”, a Bristolian version of great, – were chosen from thousands of recommendations by members of the public.
People were invited to suggest words used in their area that may not be understood across the UK. They include:
- Ginnel (an alleyway), said to originate in Leeds
- Didlum (a community savings scheme), Humberside
- Bobowler (a large moth), Birmingham
- Twitten (an alleyway), Sussex
- Cheeselog (a woodlouse), Berkshire
- To twine (to complain), Cumbria
- To geg in (to butt in), Merseyside
- On the huh (lopsided, wonky), Suffolk
- Dimpsy (twilight), Devon
- Mardy (moody), Leicester
- Gurt (great or very), Bristol
- Fam (a familiar form of address for a friend), London
A poem by Isaiah Hull, a 19-year-old spoken word artist, will feature all 12 words. Poets Vidyan Ravinthiran, Dean Wilson, Liz Berry and Hollie McNish are also contributing.
Some of the words, including “didlum”, “bobowler” and “fam”, have yet to be recognised in the Oxford English Dictionary.
The dictionary’s associate editor, Eleanor Maier, said the words were a reminder of the “breadth and vitality of the country’s dialects”.
She said: “We were also able to identify and research a large number of new words for future inclusion in the OED, as well as gain valuable information about the currency of local words included in the first edition of the dictionary.”
Broadcaster and lexicographer Susie Dent, best known for her appearances in Dictionary Corner on Channel 4’s Countdown, said the poems would “shine a light into a lexicon that’s too often overlooked”.
She said: “Our local words and expressions are very much part of an oral tradition, and printed records are often hard to find.
“The words reflect some of the verve and vibrancy of our local tongues. I’m probably not allowed to be biased, but Devon’s ‘dimpsy’ has long been a favourite of mine.”