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Happy 90th birthday to the Oxford English Dictionary


BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans Show has launched the Oxford English Dictionary’s (OED) 90th birthday celebrations along with our regional word appeal—Words Where You Are—the first of four word appeals to take place across the year.
Over the next twelve months, we will be marking the OED’s 90th year with a host of initiatives, including a reduced price annual subscription, and launch of the OED90 website which hosts a wealth of information celebrating the past, present, and future of one of the largest dictionaries in the world. 

The Words Where You Are appeal

If you’ve ever had a ride on the back or the handlebars of someone else’s bike, is it a ’backie’ or a ’croggie’?  Do you describe a good time as ’barry’, ’splann’, ’champion’, ’gas’, or ’gurt lush’?  Would you call your loved one your ’doy’, ’hen’, ’pet’, or your ’babber’? And if a picture is hanging askew, would you say that it is ’agley’ or ’ahoo’?

It’s likely all of us can recall a moment when a word we’ve known and been using for years at home turns out to be baffling to people from other parts of our own country or English-speaking region. While many such words are common in speech, some are rarely written down and so can easily escape the attention of dictionary editors. The OED is trying to create the most comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date picture of how and where these words are used, and we need your help.

Wherever you are, we want to hear about words and expressions that are distinctive to where you live or where you are from. Send them to our website or join the conversation on Twitter using #wordswhereyouare

Michael Proffitt, Chief Editor of the OED, commented: ‘Regional words are among the most distinctive, inventive, and evocative in the language. They can create a sense of belonging—of childhood, family, or home—or a sense of difference. Because many regional words occur in speech more than in writing, they don’t always get the recognition they deserve in dictionaries. Tell us about the words you think are specific to your part of the world, and help us improve the dictionary’s description of English where you are.’

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