A Times (London) story by Jack Malvern, “Linguists all a-muckwash and fratching over lost words,” begins:
Sceptics from Norfolk may blar at the idea, while Devon folk may dismiss it as zamzoden, but linguists have begun an investigation into whether regional dialect words are dead or, as they used to say in Lancashire, merely wambly.
Seven local dialect societies have each provided dictionary compilers at Collins with a list of three words that they believe to be endangered or out of use except by language enthusiasts. None has appeared in the database of written and broadcast media that compilers use to monitor the English language, but linguists are prepared to consider a word for publication in future dictionaries if there is evidence that it is in common use.
I always enjoy these lists of obscure words, even if I doubt any of them will wind up in Collins. Thanks for the link, Paul!
Addendum. BBC News has a different take on the same survey, concluding: “However the word ‘boyo’, meaning friend, is out of fashion. It was submitted by one single person in all of Wales.”
Oh, and there’s a related editorial with an impressively sensible conclusion:
Language evolves regardless of the prescriptions of lexicographers and even The Times. The dialect for cowshed (byre, shippen…) may be fading away with mechanised mass dairies. But we are creating new occupational jargons, for curry, for computers, for games. For language is the (only) exact democracy. It is formed by all its users. Words are lost only when they cease to be used. To try to revive dead men’s words is work for resurrection men.