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Simon Elmes writes about Word 4 Word
The 3 young women were making a racket on the train. Every detail regarding their plans for the evening ahead, as well as comments about fellow passengers, were shared at top volume with the rest of the carriage.

Suddenly a young smartly-dressed man stood up to get off. As the doors closed behind him, he yelled: "minging chav bitches".

The Word 4 Word series on Radio 4 will be capturing and highlighting uses of everyday vernacular vocabulary, both new and old, from around the UK.
Simon Elmes
Word 4 Word and the VOICES project

Word 4 Word is the Radio 4 outlet for a unique piece of social and linguistic research called VOICES conducted this year.

Dialect experts at Leeds University devised a set of word prompts for the VOICES survey. Then 'audio-gatherers' from local and regional radio stations recorded over a thousand individuals from across the UK. The researchers were interested in recording the vernacular (everyday words and phrases) rather than 'Standard' or 'BBC' or ' Oxford ' English.

The fruits of this enormous exercise are explored on Word 4 Word from 3 August.

You can read more about the VOICES survey and add to the regional library of vocabulary on the VOICES website .
Word 4 Word programmes

DERMOT MURNAGHAN and his guests discuss, live, six aspects of the way we talk, regionally and casually in the early years of the 21 st century. The programme also takes calls from listeners who have emailed comments to the programme and hearing direct from those involved in the VOICES survey.

Did you know we almost all use 'knackered' as the preferred vernacular word for 'tired'? 'Chuffed' is how most of us like to say we're pleased. If you don't have much money, you are likely to use the word 'skint'... but maybe also 'brassic' which is found across the UK and comes from rhyming slang 'boracic lint'. How many of you say you are 'loaded' to mean 'to have a lot of money'? 

And how many words are there for that walkway we often have between houses? Alley - of course. But also jitty, jennel, ginnel, twitchel, twitten, bacskie, wynd, close, entry, eight-foot, ten-foot....

Do you prefer to sit on a sofa, settee, couch (if you live in Scotland , that's most likely) or chaise longue or Chesterfield ? If you come from the north Midlands , you probably say 'sofee' - VOICES found nowhere else in the country that used that particular word.


Ferntickle - a freckle. Older Northern Irish dialect though quoted in Voices. The word exists in Scots in various spellings; Lutton has it as ' farenticles'. Comes from Middle English farntikylle - resembling the seed of the fern.
(Scotland & N. Ireland)

Thrawn - moody. Originally meaning twisted or deformed, past participle of the verb 'thraw', from Old English thrawan , to twist. In Scots it takes the meaning 'sullen' from early 19 th century.
(both Northern Ireland usage)

Keepy-back - savings

Bray - to hit, beat, as in the expression 'I'll bray yer arse'. Also found in Cumbria often historically 'to beat to a powder' as to 'bray spice' in a mortar.
(both Northumbrian usage)

Tranklements - a kit of tools, necessary equipment ( Sheffield usage, but also reported more widely).

Skopadiddle, Skopadiggle - a mischievous child (reported from Sheffield , 2005)

Starve, Starved, Starving - to be (very) cold. The term 'starve', from Old English steorfan , originally meant to 'die a lingering death', e.g. of cold. The term to 'starve for cold' is recorded in the 14th century, later evolving into 'starveof cold'.

Tippler Toilet - a primitive Lancashire form of exterior water-closet, familiarly known as the 'long-drop', flushed by running water in the scullery.

Stream the Clome - do the washing up ('clome' is crockery). The word derives from Old English clám , mud, by extension 'potter's clay' and so 'earthenware'.

Grammersow - a woodlouse, millipede
( Cornwall )

Shrammed - freezing cold. The antiquary Francis Grose records 'shrammed' as Wiltshire dialect in his Provincial Glossary of 1787: 'I am shram'd to death; I am dead with cold'. The word comes from shram and scram, meaning 'to shrivel with cold', which is dervived from the Old English verb scrimman  meaning to shrivel.
(South-western England)

Ferniggle - to play truant.
(West of England )

Hank Marvin - starvin(g). Cockney rhyming slang (Hank Marvin - starvin'). Hank Marvin was the lead guitarist of the Shadows.

Potless - broke, lacking money. London slang usage.

Pick to rain - to start raining , also pick with rain. Welsh English usage, borrowed from Welsh pigan , to begin to rain.

Potch -  a mess, trouble. Also verbal, to 'potch with' something: mess about with (Welsh English usage).

Crimes o' Paris - exclamation, used as expression of exasperation, as in 'Crimes of Paris! Whatsisname?'.(Potteries usage)

Old Hundred - swearing (amongst miners: 'owd 'oondred'). Derbyshire mining usage.
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    Michael RosenBestselling children's writer and poet Michael Rosen has written a specially commissioned verse about the myriad forms our current vernacular takes. Follow this link to read the poem.
    Dermot MurnaghanDermot Murnaghan has spent most of his career in broadcast journalism. Before joining the BBC, he spent more than a decade fronting ITV's national news bulletins from London. He joined the BBC in the Autumn of 2002, becoming Breakfast's main presenter immediately
    Read Dermot's article on Word 4 Word


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