"are you goin' up [to watch Pompey
"Nah, ah'm goin' in today [to
n'at" [and that]. "I'm goin'
"I've scrazed me knee, miss...."
"E's a right dinlo".
We'd like to make a collection of Portsmouth
turns of phrase, a part of the local identity.
Dockyard phrases such as matey - a contraction
of Ma'ties, an abbreviation of His/Her Majesties'
workers - and the 'golden rivet' - are celebrated
in a book published by the Royal Dockyard
Historical Society, but there are few discussions
on the local dialect and accent. Iona and
Peter Opie who lived in West Liss collected
The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1977).
They remark that "The curious lore passing
between children aged about 6-14, which today
holds in its spell some 7 million inhabitants
of this island, continues to be almost unnoticed
by the other six-sevenths of the population".
They recorded the local variant on the avoiding
"If you tread on a crack, or tread on
It's a sure thing your mother will turn you
'Creams' or 'screams' was the local
for calling a truce. Pea soup is 'London
fog' - an inversion of the usual saying;
while spotted dick pudding is 'Bugs
bolster'. Fatties were known as 'Fatty
which echoes the comedian Roscoe Arbuckle
in an early Mack Sennett film.
Lots of these sayings are both ancient
constantly updated. Is there a modern
of this child's eye view of local schools?:
"In and around Portsmouth, according
to a small feminine informant, Daley's
is known as Daley's Cow-Shed, the Grammar
School as the 'Glamour School' or 'School
for Scandal', Kingston Modern is 'Kingston
College for Clots', the High School
'Snob School' - those going there being
Snobs'... and those going to the Southsea
Modern are 'Southsea Scum'." Perhaps
'Banana splits' or 'Boomerangs' for
Lord Nelson School's curious shape?
children still believe they must keep
legs crossed in an exam, if they hope
Margaret Guy, reference librarian of
Central Library, whose parents and
were born and educated in Portsmouth
in an article in Tradewinds, Portsmouth
of Commerce journal in January 1969
she couldn't write an article on local
because she simply would not recognise
word that only locals use - because
one of them. She cited 'slock' - what
happen to shoes after a short period
The Oxford English Dictionary defined
as an obsolete word for slacken. "For
some odd reason this expressive word
lingered on in this town with the original
meaning but used only to apply to shoes".
People often remark that Pompey sounds
Cockney - for example in its flattened
quite unlike the Hampshire accent,
have not yet come across a convincing
as to why. Margaret Guy says Portsmouth
have imported other region's favourite
as our population has always been an
one owing to the presence of the army
So over to you! An incomer like me
a superficial knowledge, so please
your local lore.
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