Oxford English Dictionary extends hunt for regional words around the world

Alison Flood:

The Oxford English Dictionary is asking the public to help it mine the regional differences of English around the world to expand its record of the language, with early submissions ranging from New Zealand’s “munted” to Hawaii’s “hammajang”.

Last year, a collaboration between the OED, the BBC and the Forward Arts Foundation to find and define local English words resulted in more than 100 new regional words and phrases being added to the dictionary, from Yorkshire’s “ee bah gum” to the north east’s “cuddy wifter”, a left-handed person. Now, the OED is widening its search to English speakers around the world, with associate editor Eleanor Maier calling the early response “phenomenal”, as editors begin to draft a range of suggestions for inclusion in the dictionary.

These range from Hawaii’s “hammajang”, meaning “in a disorderly or shambolic state”, to the Scottish word for a swimming costume, “dookers” or “duckers”, and New Zealand’s “munted”, meaning “broken or wrecked”. The OED is also looking to include the word “chopsy”, a Welsh term for an overly talkative person; “frog-drowner”, which Americans might use to describe a torrential downpour of rain; “brick”, which means “very cold” to residents of New Jersey and New York City; and “round the Wrekin”, meaning “in a lengthy or roundabout manner” in the Midlands.

The dictionary has already found that, depending on location, a picture hanging askew might be described as “agley”, “catawampous”, “antigodlin” or “ahoo” by an English speaker, while a loved one could be called a “doy”, “pet”, “dou-dou”, “bubele”, “alanna” or“babber”.