Appeals update: March 2019

Appeals update: March 2019

Appeals to you: #wordswhereyouare and #hobbywords

Last year saw the ninetieth anniversary of the completion of the first edition of the OED, and as part of the celebration we’ve been running a series of themed appeals asking for your help in expanding the dictionary’s coverage of language from specific contexts. This quarter’s update includes some new entries and senses which we’ve drafted in response to the first couple of these appeals: the #wordswhereyouare request for regional vocabulary, and the #hobbywords appeal for words associated with particular pastimes.

Among regional items, we’ll start relatively close to home, with jibbons, a name in Welsh English for the vegetable now usually known in England as ‘spring onions’, but which has a wide variety of regional and historical names, including ‘Welsh onions’. In North America, these small-bulbed or bulbless alliums are most widely known as ‘scallions’, or ‘green onions’, but if you’re a speaker of Yat, you might call them ‘shallots’. Yat is a name for a regional dialect or accent heard in New Orleans, often said be close in sound to a Brooklyn accent, and which takes its name from the greeting ‘where y’at?’

The important verb get has been expanded with two new phrases suggested during our #wordswhereyouare appeal. The first, to get wrong, is attested in the north of England and the northern midlands from the start of the nineteenth century in the sense ‘to quarrel’, but it is now especially common in the north-east, in the sense ‘to get into trouble; to receive a reprimand’, with one Twitter using lamenting that he ‘get[s] wrong off [his] lass’ for being unsociable and using his phone in bed. Also included at get is to get off at Edge Hill, a humorously euphemistic way of referring to the ‘withdrawal method’ of contraception. This jokey linguistic meme uses the idea of disembarking—a sexually suggestive ‘getting off’—at the last stop before the terminus of a railway line. The appropriately precipitous sounding Edge Hill is the penultimate station on the only line into Liverpool Lime Street, but there are multiple local variations in British and other varieties of English—getting off at Gateshead rather than Newcastle, Haymarket rather than Edinburgh Waverley, and so on. Ultimately, though, the idea seems to be Australian in origin: in our earliest evidence, entered in Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang in 1967, the passenger steps off the train (so to speak) at Redfern, a suburb of Sydney).

Our coverage of British Indian usage gets an update with the addition of the dismissive kiss my chuddies (underpants), popularized as a catchphrase by actor and writer Sanjeev Bhaskar playing one half of the teenage duo known as the Bhangra Muffins in the 1990s BBC comedy sketch show Goodness Gracious Me. Wasteman, an insult that seems to have emerged in ‘Multicultural London English’ in the early noughties before coming to wider attention through its use in the grime genre of electronic dance music, also makes its OED debut today. A raft of Scottish words and phrases, submitted to this and other recent appeals for regional vocabulary, has also been added in this update, and my colleagues Jane Johnson and Kate Wild have written an article on additions ranging from bidie-in to Weegie—you’d have to be a right tube not to read it.

South African English gets some special attention in this update, and our new additions take us from Joburg or Jozi (both nicknames for Johannesburg) to the gramadoelas (an etymologically mysterious word for a remote rural region, especially one regarded as unsophisticated or uncultured). Among other things, you’ll find new entries for bok, a Dutch word meaning goat or antelope, also used (in the plural) as a short form of ‘Springboks’ in references to South African national sports teams, especially, of course, its rugby union side; dof, a borrowing from Afrikaans meaning ‘stupid, ill-informed, or clueless’; and the Zulu-derived isicathamiya,a style of unaccompanied singing by male choirs which is a softer, lighter descendant of the genre known as mbube, and which has been popularized by the work of the Ladysmith Black Mambazo group. Are there more South African terms in this update? Will there be more in future? Yebo and yebo. (And for more on this subject, see the article written by my colleague Danica Salazar on South African words in the previous OED update.)

The first small selection of entries drafted in response to our #hobbywords appeal also goes online today, with a sense of stash specifically referring to a knitter’s or sewist’s working collection of yarn, fabric, and other craft supplies; kitbasher, a person (especially a model railway enthusiast) who creates unique models by adapting or customizing commercially available kits; and pony bottle, a small tank of breathing gas carried by scuba divers as a backup to their main supply in case of emergency.

Many more words from our #OED90 appeals will be making their dictionary debut in future updates.

Find out more about our appeals here.

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