The Disappearing Dictionary

A Treasury of Lost English Dialect Words

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Wherever you go in the English-speaking world, there are linguistic riches from times past awaiting rediscovery. All you have to do is choose a location, find some old documents, and dig a little.

In The Disappearing Dictionary, linguistics expert Professor David Crystal collects together delightful dialect words that either provide an insight into an older way of life, or simply have an irresistible phonetic appeal. Like a mirror image of The Meaning of Liff that just happens to be true, The Disappearing Dictionary unearths some lovely old gems of the English language, dusts them down and makes them live again for a new generation.

dabberlick [noun, Scotland]

A mildly insulting way of talking about someone who is tall and skinny. 'Where's that dabberlick of a child?'

fubsy [adjective, Lancashire]

Plump, in a nice sort of way.

squinch [noun, Devon]

A narrow crack in a wall or a space between floorboards. 'I lost sixpence through a squinch in the floor'.

About David Crystal

David Crystal works from his home in Holyhead, North Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer and broadcaster. He has published extensively on the history and development of English, including The Stories of English, Evolving English and Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling. He and his son Ben joined forces to co-write You Say Potato and The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary of Shakespeare. He held a chair at the University of Reading for ten years, and is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Bangor. He was 'Master of Original Pronunciation' at Shakespeare's Globe in London for its productions of Romeo and Juliet and Troilus and Cressida in 2004-5, and has since acted as an accent consultant for other such productions worldwide.

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Quiz: Roald Dahl or real?

Quiz: Roald Dahl or real?

27 June 2016

By Pan Macmillan

Beloved children's author Roald Dahl invented over 500 words and character names. We've mixed them up with some of the weird and wonderful English dialect words from David Crystal's The Disappearing Dictionary to see if you can tell the difference.