Bootiful is Back: Twitter and Facebook are resuscitating regional dialects


There was a fear that local words and regional accents and phrases would get mushed out by mass media – and that we’d all start talking like BBC newsreaders, or more likely, one of the characters on Friends.

But the flattening effect of TV and radio has been counteracted by the effect of social media, according to a survey by err, Bernard Matthews Farms. The turkey farm brand from Norfolk made a Norfolk word – “bootiful” (that’s ‘beautiful’ to the rest of us) – nationally popular with a TV advert back in the 1980s. Now they say, such words spread much more naturally with the fast exchanges on social networking sites.

Tweeters from Glasgow will say Norfolk slang, Welsh words like “lush” and “tidy” end up all over and basically Twitter is a big melting pot of national slang words.

‘Course the internet creates its own special slang too – LOLspeak to name but one example which gets stirred into the mix.

They got an academic – Dr Eric Schleef, lecturer in English Sociolinguistics at The University of Manchester – to explain:

“Dialects were traditionally passed on relatively slowly through spoken language, but social changes such as the advent of modern communication mean they are spreading much faster than they would have, even as recently as two decades ago.”

“Twitter, Facebook and texting all encourage speed and immediacy of understanding – meaning users type as they speak, using slang, dialect respellings and colloquialisms. The result is that we are all becoming exposed to words we may not have otherwise encountered, while absorbing them into everyday speech.”

Do you recognise all the words below? Can’t say I do, but then maybe I’m not following enough people from Norfolk on Twitter

Selection of top regional words and phrases spreading across the regions:
· Norfolk – ‘bootiful’ (beautiful/great), bishey-barnee-bee’ (ladybird), ‘mardle’ (talk), ‘putting on parts’ (misbehaving), ‘squit’ (rubbish)
· Cornwall – ‘andsome’ (lovely/good – handsome without the ‘h’), ‘dreckly’ as in ‘directly’ (I’ll do it dreckly)
· Liverpool – ‘boss’ (good),’scran’ (food), ‘busies’ (police)
· Aberdeen – ‘ken’ (know), ‘bairns’ (babies)
· Newcastle – ‘canny/mint’ (good), ‘ket’ (sweets), ‘raggies’ (chavs)
· Manchester – ‘mint’ (v good), ‘mardy’ (moody)
· Midlands – ‘cob’ (bread roll), ‘pikelets’ (crumpets), ‘standard’ (typical) ‘gitty’ (alley)
· Leeds – ‘in a boo’ (in a mood), ‘while’ (until)
· Hull – ‘tret’ (treat)
· Northern Ireland – ‘yous’ (plural of you), ‘Away on!’ (you’re kidding!)
· Glasgow – ‘wean’ (child), ‘awayyego’ (no way!), ‘geeze’ (give)
· Wales – ‘lush’, ‘tidy’ (very nice, attractive)
· London – ‘pukka’ , ‘sick’, ‘bangin’ (v good),’whack’ (rubbish), ‘butters’ (ugly)
· Birmingham – ‘taraabit’ (goodbye), ‘babby’ (baby), ‘donnies’ (hands)
· Bristol – ‘gert lush’ (very nice), ‘keener’ (someone who works too hard), ‘mind’ (do you know what I mean?)
· Nottingham – ‘gizza glegg/gizza gozz’ (may I see that?), ‘twitchell’ (alleyway)

Anna Leach


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