National Poetry Day 2017 takes place on the 28th of September, and for the occasion the BBC, working with the Forward Arts Foundation, will commission 12 local poets across England to each write a poem based on a distinctive local expression. The chosen expressions will be taken from words that have been suggested by listeners to BBC Local Radio, on social media, and in interviews and discussions. The words suggested will also be considered for inclusion in the OED.
In connection with this project lexicographers at the OED have been researching the word slider, which is a common term in Bristol for a slide. The starting point for all OED entries is evidence and sometimes, in the case of regional vocabulary, that evidence can be hard to find. A word or expression may be in common use but rarely make its way into written sources. This seems to be the case with slider. The earliest written evidence we have so far found is from a 1997 guidebook to the Cotswolds and Shakespeare Country by Richard Sale:
The Shire Horse Centre, which has..an adventure playground and a giant slider.
1997 Richard Sale, Cotswolds, pg. 29
However, we are sure that the word goes back a lot further than the 1990s. For example, Bristol Post readers recall playing on the slippery rock slope on the Downs and calling it a ‘slider’ in the 1960s. An article of 3 July, 2001, from the same newspaper seems to be quoting from a letter written in the 1950s:
Hilary penned her epistle sitting on the grass after a dip in the swimming pool.
She had already sent a “postcard to Irene” which she had bought on the site together with her stamps. Her little note is so evocative, beginning: “We arrived safely on Friday” where they were welcomed with “bread and jam and a cup of tea”. For supper they had cold milk and “fish-paste on bread” before retiring for the night at nine o’clock.
They were all up early and Hilary pulled on her shorts and blouse and went to the “washing house”. She approved of the cold water because “it is nice and fresh”. She explained that “Dorothy does my hair in the mornings” before confessing that “I have broke part of my front tooth. I did it on the slider.”
2001 Bristol Post, 3 July, pg. 7
The OED would like to call on the local knowledge of the people of Bristol. Are you able to provide earlier examples of the word slider in the sense of a ‘slide’? Is the letter mentioned in the 2001 article perhaps in a reader’s possession?
The evidence we are looking for can take a number of forms. It may be from a printed source such a newspaper, magazine, or book. But we also accept evidence from manuscripts, personal letters, television and radio transcripts, film scripts, and diaries. Any evidence which has a documented, verifiable date may well make its way into the published OED entry.
Posted by OED_Editor on 12 June 2017 23.45