Mancunianisms.

‘Sound’ Mancunian words (1, 2) is from November 2002 (almost as old as this blog!), but I presume the dialect hasn’t changed much, and it’s enjoyable stuff if you enjoy this kind of thing:

From The Big Manc in Salford
Ragged – as in ‘it is ragged’, being of not good order. Wing-Nut – a person of dubious intent/inteligence.
Angin – as in ‘she/he is angin’, being of not sound looks, should be hanged (Hanging).
Buzzin – Being in a state of high spirits.
Aye – Excuse me sir!
Chip – to leave your current location, ‘gotta chip, its my bath time…’

From Nigel Doran in London (ex-Stockport)
I have definitely heard of ‘shythe‘ or even ‘shive’ of bread/toast.
Clemmies = balls (ie. testicles)
Mard arse = coward
Demic (my fave and surprised it’s not been mentioned yet) = something that doesn’t work properly, or is out of order etc.
Skriking = crying
Ann Twacky (or ann twacky) = old fashioned. My Nana says this. I think it comes from ‘antique’.

Lots more at the links.

Comments

  1. Wingnut has of course been around for a while now.

  2. Also ‘phat’, ‘no way’, ‘shush’ and ‘gormless’

  3. We use “gormless” in my family because my grandmother was from Lancashire, but sadly it seems to be largely unknown here in America.

  4. I’ve always thought gormless was an international standard English word, register-neutral and without any particular hint of regionalism. I’d certainly use it myself. But never mind that, when I looked it up (“orig. dial.”) I saw there’s a new feature in OED online: frequency information. For gormless, it gives a little graphic (a horizontal line of eight dots of increasing size, with the first three highlighted), and clicking on it gives a pop-up saying

    This word belongs in Frequency Band 3. Band 3 contains words which occur between 0.01 and 0.1 times per million words in typical modern English usage. These words are not commonly found in general text types like novels and newspapers, but at the same they are not overly opaque or obscure. Nouns include menhir, merengue, ebullition, chromaticism, tumescence, annihilationist, and alimentation, and examples of adjectives are amortizable, actualized, prelapsarian, decretal, contumacious, agglutinative, quantized, cuneate, argentiferous…

    Neat. Although for me “gormless” would be by a very considerable distance the most familiar word in that set. Some I don’t know at all, and “agglutinative” is probably the only other one I’ve ever used. So that’s an eye-opener.

  5. Ken Miner says:

    Hoped I’d find “gormed” at those links, since I’ve been wondering about it ever since I read David Copperfield, where the rustic eloquence of Daniel Peggotty often includes “I’ll be gormed” as in “I’ll be gormed if I’ll give up looking for Li’l Emily” (can’t find my copy to give a real example).

    “Gormed” doesn’t seem to be in standard dictionaries but the OED has “Gorm: A vulgar substitute for ‘(God) damn’”. But poking around the internet I find several other meanings for “gormed”: “covered with a sticky substance”; “drunk”; etc.

    Anybody recognize “gormed”? According to the OED it’s still in use to some extent.

  6. Jeffry House says:

    “Gormless” is used, though infrequently, here in Toronto. I have seen it in the newspaper, and it is used on CBC radio. For me, it emits a nuance of colonial superiority though; the speaker seems likely to have joined us from the mother country, and perhaps the (former) Indian Civil Service, too (at the highest levels) .

  7. I grew up in the Midlands and have lived in the south-east, Yorkshire and now the north-west, and I’d say ‘gormless’ is common across England, even if it did originate in one area. I agree with Breffni that it seems far more common than any of those other words to me, surprised at OED results.

    Skriking for crying (usually hysterical or babyish screamling/wailing, rather than an upset adult) I think may be more generally north-west than Mancunian, I know people from Preston and Wigan who use it a lot.

  8. Ann Twacky (or ann twacky) = old fashioned. My Nana says this. I think it comes from ‘antique’.

    Also spelt antwacky, as one word. It looks to me more like a distortion of antiquated. It’s Scouse too, not just Mancunian (and “Aunt Wacky” is another potential folk-etymological interpretation).

  9. @Ken Miner: Where I come from, “covered with a sticky substance” is gommed (in a rhotic dialect).

  10. I’ve always thought gormless was an international standard English word

    The US version of ODO doesn’t list it at all, AHD lists it as “chiefly Brit.” (which in dictionary-speak means they have essentially no American citations), and M-W lists it without comment, but the latter two give a spelling pronunciation with /r/. Since the word has never had an /r/, being a non-rhotic respelling of older gaumless < Old Norse gaumr ‘attention, care’ + native -less, I conclude that it was not inherited into AmE and appears only as a very occasional borrowing. I myself have never used it nor heard it from a native American.

  11. Reading this list released a flood of memories of my New Wave/alt rock youth:

    You left your girlfriend on the platform
    With this really ragged notion that you’ll return…

    Though I lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, ragged notion entered my regular conversational rotation.

  12. I’ve always thought gormless was an international standard English word, register-neutral and without any particular hint of regionalism.

    Definitely not — like John Cowan, I have never used it nor heard it from a native American. In fact, so un-American is it that though I have seen it used occasionally in UK texts, I have no idea what it means other than being generally negative.

    But never mind that, when I looked it up (“orig. dial.”) I saw there’s a new feature in OED online: frequency information.

    Wonderful, thanks for letting us know! (And every word on that list is more familiar to me than “gormless.”)

  13. Skriking for crying (usually hysterical or babyish screamling/wailing, rather than an upset adult) I think may be more generally north-west than Mancunian, I know people from Preston and Wigan who use it a lot.

    Not surprising. It’s the Norwegian word and comes from norse.

    I have definitely heard of ‘shythe‘ or even ‘shive’ of bread/toast.

    The same. It’s the norsk for slice (skive for slice, brødskive for slice of bread).

  14. “Gormless” is used, though infrequently, here in Toronto.

    Yup!

  15. Trond Engen says:

    If ‘gorm’ means “mud, dirt”, then I bet it’s completely unrelated to ‘gormless’ (except, maybe, by folk-etymology of the latter). ‘Gorm’ must be related to ‘gore’ in the same way as No. gjørme “mud” to gorr/gørr “innards, puss, dirty substance”. Or it could be borrowed too.

  16. surprised at OED results

    Not too surprising when you reflect that two-thirds of the native anglophones in the world have never used it and most of them have never even heard of it.

  17. So is angin the Mancunian version of mingin?

  18. J. W. Brewer says:

    Re “skive” as “slice,” apparently there’s a technical use of “skive” as a verb among tanners/leatherworkers (at least traditionally) that uncontroversially comes from the Norse verb — and then there’s the BrEng slang verb “skive” meaning “play hooky, avoid work, shirk” etc. which the Learned Scholars of Google are uncertain of the antecedents of — at a minimum they’re not all willing to say it’s clearly an extended sense of the Norse verb.

  19. Trond Engen says:

    Normally, the initial sk- of ‘skive’ would indicate a Norse loan, while the sh- of ‘shive’ is diagnostic of a native form. I don’t know enough English dialectology to tell if Mancunian is different, but one might imagine that the next-to-northern dialects were the last to change sk- and k- into sh- and ch-, allowing it to happen even in Norse loans.

  20. The OED’s first citation of skive in your second sense is in fact American, appearing first at the University of Notre Dame in the 1880s. There are two subsenses: ‘to leave the college campus without permission’ (now disused) and ‘to avoid work or a duty by leaving or being absent’ (now British colloquial, says the OED). The last U.S. appearance of the word is in 1922, and it first appears in a UK publication in 1919 as military slang, so my guess is that it was transmitted from Yanks to Brits in the Great War.

  21. AJP Crown says:

    JW, There’s some info about shive here, including the blade called a shiv that’s used in prison that comes, apparently, via Romani. I wonder if there’s any connection to sheaf or sheaves of paper. Norwegian ‘skive’ incidentally is pronounced ʃivə like the Hindu god Shiva. I don’t know whether that affects the likelihood of its being cognate with skiving-off-from-school skive.

  22. Wingnut has of course been around for a while now.

    Decades, it seems to me.

  23. the blade called a shiv

    Angloromani words for ‘knife, pointed tool’ include chiv, chivvi, chivvimengri, chivvomengro, all derived from European Romani čʰin- ‘cut’ (AR chin, chiv). This in turn comes from Old Indic chid- (with a nasal present, cinatti < *sḱʰined-/*sḱʰind-). The same root appears in Gk. σχίζω, Lat. scindo , scidī, scissum ‘split’, hence scissor ‘carver’, to which we owe the initial sc of Mod.E scissors and scythe (by orthographic contamination). These words do travel about a lot.

  24. I forgot to mention that the OED provides no etymology for the sense of skive I was discussing above.

  25. David Marjanović says:

    Normally, the initial sk- of ‘skive’ would indicate a Norse loan, while the sh- of ‘shive’ is diagnostic of a native form. I don’t know enough English dialectology to tell if Mancunian is different, but one might imagine that the next-to-northern dialects were the last to change sk- and k- into sh- and ch-, allowing it to happen even in Norse loans.

    Or it’s native, and cognate to German Scheibe “slice; disk/disc”.

    sheaf or sheaves of paper

    …Oh. That, too.

    *sḱʰined-/*sḱʰind-

    Wait. Voiceless aspirates in PIE now? Was there progressive devoicing in *s-ǵʰ-?

  26. *sǵʰ- is in fact what the LIV assumes in this root (progressive devoicing by so-called Sieb’s Law). Sanskrit doesn’t really require *ḱʰ here (ch can regularly reflect *sḱ); Greek does.

  27. David Marjanović says:

    Very interesting that there was regressive voicing in *sd but progressive devoicing in *sǵʰ.

    Greek does

    I know, but it would have devoiced *ǵʰ anyway, *s or no *s.

  28. Sieb’s Law is triggered only by s-mobile. Well-known examples include *dʰerbʰ- ~ *stʰerbʰ-, both preserved in Germanic (OE deorfan ‘labour, be in peril, perish’ vs. steorfan ‘die’), and *gʷʰal- ~ *skʷʰal- ‘stumble, err’ (Lat. fallō ‘fail’ vs. Arm. sxalem ‘make a mistake’, Gk. σφάλλω ’cause to fall, trip up in wrestling’, etc.).

    Otherwise it’s the *s that gets voiced, as in the imperative *h₁[z]-dʰí ‘be!’ (Av. zdī)

  29. Sieb’s law

    Yet another monosyllabic Indo-Europeanist to add to the list!

    deorfan

    Wiktionary has an entry for ModE derve, but no evidence, nor is there any in the OED; alas, the relevant EDD volume is broken at the Internet Archive. I posted to Wiktionary suggesting that it’s a ghost word, perhaps appearing there because the OED uses it as a headword for deorfan and ME derven.

  30. Well, at least we can starve, if we can’t derve.

  31. I tried searching for “derve” in Google Books but all the top hits were for the French dervé — I have no idea what it means, but perhaps it doesn’t matter, given this quote from Madness in Medieval French Literature: “Attempting to constitute himself through language, the dervé succeeds only in erasing linguistic difference as all words refer uniformly to him.”

  32. The related nouns derf ‘hardship, torture’ and dervinge ‘distress’ were still in use ca. 1300 but don’t seem to have lasted till EMod.E. (I would expect *darve rather than *derve in “standard” varieties anyway).

  33. It’s a curious lexical gap that English lacks a word for ‘die of thirst’ while having one for ‘die of hunger’. One dies of thirst much more rapidly, but perhaps it’s because English has only recently come to be spoken in desert or semi-desert countries.

  34. I agree with Hat and John Cowan. “Gormless” will get you blank stares in the US. But who knows, maybe it will catch on with the New York hipster set now that “wanker”, “gobsmacked” and “ginger” seem to have established themselves on our shores.

  35. It’s a curious lexical gap that English lacks a word for ‘die of thirst’ while having one for ‘die of hunger

    Do Semitic languages have a word for dying of thirst? Wouldn’t literally dying of thirst have been a fairly rare occurence until the age of sail? People probably died quite often of the effects of dehydration in desert climates in ancient times but their peers might not have thought of that as “dying of thirst”.

  36. David Marjanović says:

    Sieb’s Law is triggered only by s-mobile.

    For a few minutes I hoped this would offer a way of distinguishing s-mobile from original root-initial *s-, assuming such a distinction ever existed. The Pffft! of All Knowledge, however, words it differently: “Siebs’ law appears to demand that the sibilant and aspirated stop are both adjacent and tautosyllabic, something which is known to only occur in word-initial position in Proto-Indo-European anyway.”

    Sieb, BTW, means “sieve”, and I’m not aware of anyone bearing it as a name.

    OE deorfan ‘labour, be in peril, perish’ vs. steorfan ‘die’

    German darben “to suffer miserably from a lack of… usually food, I guess, but the word is too poetic to really tell”, sterben “die”.

    Wait. d- and d- shouldn’t correspond. What kind of Not Too High German turns /ɛr/ into /ar/?

    Do Semitic languages have a word for dying of thirst?

    German does. But then, the usual derivational morphology makes that difficult to avoid: it’s verdursten. Compare verhungern “starve to death”.

    “Gormless” will get you blank stares in the US. But who knows, maybe it will catch on with the New York hipster set now that “wanker”, “gobsmacked” and “ginger” seem to have established themselves on our shores.

    I know a US-based blogger (no UK background in at least a century, likely more) who uses it. His readership is a somewhat different and perhaps even broader demographic.

  37. His name was Siebs, not Sieb.

    […] a German linguist most remembered today as the author of Deutsche Bühnenaussprache published in 1898. The work was largely responsible for setting the standard pronunciation of the modern German language and is referred to popularly by German speakers as der Siebs.

    A dirty job, no doubt, but someone had to do it.

  38. Do Semitic languages have a word for dying of thirst?

    Hebrew doesn’t, but then it doesn’t have a specific word for dying of hunger, either.

  39. I haven’t heard “gobsmacked” aloud from an American yet, but I’ve seen it in American writing. What I find amusing about its growing presence here (still much less than “wanker” or “ginger,” the latter of which seems to have been present in America a low levels for a long time) is that the British meaning of “gob” has not accompanied it.

  40. A dirty job, no doubt, but someone had to do it.

    Of course. I often get the apostrophe wrong. Another frequent victim of the same tendency is Siever’s… pardon me, Sievers’ Law.

  41. It’s a curious lexical gap that English lacks a word for ‘die of thirst’ while having one for ‘die of hunger’

    Yep, and in besieging a city, you can “starve them out” but you can’t “thirst them out”.

  42. Maybe you could… parch them out?

  43. With a giant griddle, no doubt.

  44. David Marjanović says:

    The work was largely responsible for setting the standard pronunciation of the modern German language

    Take that with a huge grain of salt.

    is referred to popularly by German speakers

    Those few that know of its existence, that is!

  45. [Wikipedia:] “Siebs’ law appears to demand that the sibilant and aspirated stop are both adjacent and tautosyllabic, something which is known to only occur in word-initial position in Proto-Indo-European anyway.”

    Things were probably more complicated than that, as there is no particular reason to believe that *h₁s-dʰí was disyllabic in PIE. It looks as if Siebs’ Law had operated in pre-PIE before quantitative ablaut (and who knows if the imperative of *h₁es- was extended witn the particle *dʰí already at that stage). So yes, it seems that it was strictly limited to roots with an s-mobile. I also think (based mainly on the absence of *zD- type onsets and the well-formedness of roots like *steigʰ- ‘go forth/up, ascend’) that *s+D- became PIE *sT-.

  46. German darben “to suffer miserably from a lack of… usually food, I guess, but the word is too poetic to really tell”

    It’s a different root (*terp-)! The verb is devominative, related to Goth. þarba ‘need, lack’; cf. OE þearfian ‘be in need of’.

    MHG had vertërben ~ verdërben ‘get killed, perish’, and the corresponding causative verterben ~ verderben < *dʰorbʰ-ejé/ó- ‘ruin, cause to die’. They have merged in modern verderben (with strong inflections, except occasionally in the past participle). The MHG forms with d- are more common, but since the verbs also occur in MLG and Middle Dutch, the d-variants seem to be interdialectal loans.

  47. devominative > denominative

  48. Aw, I like devominative!

  49. I suppose ‘chip’, in the sense of ‘split’ (to be really antique), has nothing to do with getting your golfball out of the rough with a high-angled iron.

    ‘Demic’ put me in mind of ‘US’, which was an abbreviation used in the RCAF in the Fifties meaning ‘unservicable’. At the time it made me think ‘United States’, which I didn’t dare mention because they were allies.

  50. David Marjanović says:

    there is no particular reason to believe that *h₁s-dʰí was disyllabic in PIE

    …Good point.

    It’s a different root (*terp-)! The verb is devominative, related to Goth. þarba ‘need, lack’; cf. OE þearfian ‘be in need of’.

    Oh, Bedarf “need”, bedürfen “require”.

    They have merged in modern verderben (with strong inflections, except occasionally in the past participle).

    I only know verderbt as an obsolete word for an obsolete concept: “irredeemably sunk into moral turpitude”. But, anyway, that’s obviously from the causative, which is expected to be weak.

  51. Aw, I like devominative!

    It’s a cross between denominative and devomitative. A noun that becomes a verb as you you throw it up.

  52. an abbreviation used in the RCAF in the Fifties meaning ‘unserviceable’

    The RAF used it too, but generally dropped it in contexts where Americans were common: as Arthur C. Clarke said in Glide Path (his only non-sf novel), “it took too much explaining, and even when explained was likely to hurt sensitive American feelings”.

  53. Thanks fo that, JC! Never heard of Glide Path. Do you think it worth reading? or did you come across it in your behind-the-scenes sleight-of-hand research?

  54. I enjoyed it very much some years ago. It’s about the development of ground-controlled approach precision radar during WWII. It’s based on Clarke’s own work on GCA, and includes a bottom-up portrait of Luis Alvarez (fictionalized and under another name).

  55. Sounds like it might have had potential to be like one of those Brit Fifties movies like Dam Busters.

  56. Indeed, though rather more comic, perhaps (I haven’t seen the film). The matchbox-crunched-behind-the-ear incident (only mentioned, not shown), the problem with FIDO (Fog, Intensive, Dispersal Of) technology, the hapless attempt of the British Army to attack (in a preparedness drill) a radar installation in the middle of the night while carrying all sorts of highly reflective metal objects, the time the regular-RAF big cheese was nearly GCAed into the ocean due to a human-factors fault, Jackson’s Ride (down the middle of the runway on a bicycle, just slightly ahead of a plane about to land on it), and even the unscheduled GCA jet landing (with less than 90 seconds of fuel to spare) are all pretty funny in hindsight, although some of them are quite thrilling while they are happening. But there is no climax comparable to dropping bombs: it is a “man learns better about himself” story which begins when the protagonist joins the team and ends when he leaves it, both fairly quiet moments.

  57. Though I’ve never seen “gormed” in an American book, “gaumed” with the same meaning (covered all over in something sticky) was used by Mark Twain — https://www.google.com/search?sclient=tablet-gws&newwindow=1&safe=off&site=&source=hp&q=mark+twain+gaumed&oq=mark+twain+gaumed&gs_l=tablet-gws.12…4602.4602.0.5559.2.2.0.0.0.0.134.265.0j2.2.0….0…1c.2.64.tablet-gws..2.0.0.0.TvKiHezVA-0

  58. Two links to instances of “gaumed” in Mark Twain meaning what “gormed” means in the UK

    ” … but they’ve tuck ‘n’ gaumed the inside of theirn all over with some kind of nasty disgustin’ truck ” …
    https://books.google.com/books?id=0tQjH8yzrdcC&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=mark+twain+gaumed&source=bl&ots=AHCtiZAA7C&sig=PHUoSzng77qjlKeoyZiVpz2ko7c&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjrpc2RveLJAhUKMyYKHXoNA4IQ6AEIHzAA

    and

    ” … Bill Israeel, who drew a butcher knife gaumed with red ink on me once in a lonely place …
    https://books.google.com/books?id=NfZHzBHUX7cC&pg=PA489&lpg=PA489&dq=mark+twain+gaumed&source=bl&ots=V6pS5B5pe1&sig=MgjpwniUS3Lul2L-H6DXqmpJ0wY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjrpc2RveLJAhUKMyYKHXoNA4IQ6AEIIjAB

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