They may need a blatherskite in the great hunt for spindleshanks

World

They may need a blatherskite in the great hunt for spindleshanks

To see if dialects are dying out researchers will trawl the UK to find anyone who still says things like coochy-pawed

Gabriella Swerling

Is that coochy-pawed blatherskite up to no good again? What about old Harry – has he been spooking you?

While such language may seem incomprehensible, it features words once common in Britain. A group of researchers is now setting out to discover whether they have truly died out.

In the 1950s, nine fieldworkers trekked across England to ask people about the words they used for everyday objects. There were about 1,300 questions in the original Survey of English Dialects, used across 313 locations, and more than 400,000 responses. Now the next generation of volunteers will update the “most comprehensive survey of England’s dialects ever undertaken” and make it available online, after securing more than £500,000 (R9.4m) from the National Lottery Heritage Fund...

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