Recording the voices ofvoices a nation for posterity; Mick Ord helps Mike Chapple expand his vocabulary with a few choice phrases.
DID you perchance spend last night getting malletted with your bezzie?
And mayhap en route did you take a short cut through a jigger in your trainies?
The richness and diversity of not only Scouse but all of the UK's language, accents and dialects will be reflected in a major new BBC series of
programmes that starts today.
And director of it all is a Liverpudlian, Mick Ord.
The Broadgreen-born Radio Merseyside manager has spent the past year directing the mammoth Voices project a season of radio and TV programmes which aims to become a so called "auditary snapshot" that reflects the way we speak now.
At the heart of it is a collection of 1,000 recorded voices from around the country which will be preserved for posterity by the National Sound Archive.
"The idea is that in 100 years from now you will be able hear how people spoke in 2005," says 48-year-old Mick, who somewhat reassuringly for somehow who works for the BBC, has retained his Liverpool accent. "The use of language in this country is just as diverse and exciting, perhaps even more so now that there are more accents than there ever have been before."
The biggest audio survey of its kind can be accessed through the internet and features a number of locally recorded conversations which typify our linguistic heritage. They include: p Former Liverpool dockers who now own and run the Casa bar in Hope Street discussing Liverpool's sense of community and the camaraderie that existed on the waterfront p The Williams family of Garston debating swearing, family and local accents p Retired miners from the former Bold colliery in St Helens discussing life down the pit.
The project also incorporates the Word Map, an online poll to build a dialect listing of the different expressions we use to describe the same things in various parts of the UK. So far there have been 32,000 contributions in which the words "jigger" for alleyway; "trainees" for gym shoes and "malletted", for becoming intoxicated, are almost exclusive to the Liverpool area. Strangely Bezzie, or best friend, is not just the property of Scousers and is used in London too. Similarly "kecks" for trousers is used in parts of Lancashire and in Yorkshire as "kegs".
Ord believes that his home town has one of the most diverse infrastructures of accent and dialects some of it due to generations of immigration.
"You can have all sorts of different types of Scouse spoken like Chinese Scouse and Jamaican Scouse for instance," says Mick, whose own particular favourite "picknee"comes from Liverpudlians with Caribbean roots. A variation on the politically incorrect description for a small black child, piccaninny has its roots in the mid 17th century slave trade.
"Originally the word came from Portugal and then because of the slave trade it went across the ocean to the West Indies and then to Liverpool where it became shortened and got the hard Irish K inflection. So you get the history of Liverpool andthe British Empire encapsulated into one word," explains Mick whose other favourites are "phat" which British Asian youth use for something that's cool - as in hip - while perversely "thin" means cold in certain parts of Lancashire.
The depth of variety and continuing growth has surprised everyone involved including Dr Clive Upton of Leeds University which compiled the first survey of accents and dialects in the 1950s and helped set up the current project.
"That initial survey came up with 84 words for left-handed so I was amazed that so far the current research has revealed 245 words.
"There are also new words emerging in place of old ones. There are fewer words for horse drawn ploughs now but we're all aware of the word chav and there are plenty of regional variations for that such as pikey and ned. Our language is more urban and this survey is creating a window on a new world."
Mick is similarly enthusiastic about the ever-expanding and changing world of British language which he and the others on the team label "local lingo".
"These words should not be taken for granted they are part of this country's heritage," says Mick who feels that the same respect should be accorded to accents.
"People from abroad don't have any problem acceptingaccents. It's only some people in this country who will make a judgement on a person as soon as they open their mouths People in Liverpool, like those in Birmingham and Glasgow, feel that their accents sometimes get a bad press. But our attitude isthat all accents are equal but just like musical tastes there are some that you like and there others that you don'tp EXTRACTS from the Voices recordings can be heard online by clicking on www.bbc.co.
uk/voices/recordings As part of Voices, Radio Merseyside will be broadcasting The Story of Scouse on its breakfast shows. It has also produced a special "docker-mentary" which explores Liverpool's waterfront, which was once the most important port of the British empire outside of London. For full details of Voices programmes click on www.bbc.co.uk/voices/tv and radio How others see us . . . regional variations for words in general use
FRIEND (in the North West top 10): Mate, friend, pal, buddy, chum, mucker, bud, bezzie, marra.
Drunk: Blootered(Scotland), kettled (Lancashire), rubbered (Northumbria).
Attractive: Stoater (Glasgow), buff (London), tidy (Wales) Cold: Nesh (South West and the North), taters (East Anglia), clemmed (Sheffield) Left handed: Molly-duckered (Scotland), gammy (Cumbria), keggy (East Midlands) Exhausted: Jiggered (Lancashire), puggled (Scotland), lampered (Cornwall
Mick Ord is buzzin, not to mention stoked, with the BBC Voices project Picture: MARTIN BIRCHALL