Suffolk phrase ‘on the huh’ celebrated for National Poetry Day

Suffolk countryside. Picture: MIKE PAGE

Suffolk countryside. Picture: MIKE PAGE - Credit: Archant

On the huh, a Suffolk phrase meaning something is lopsided/wonky, is getting a taste of the limelight in 12 poems commissioned for National Poetry Day.

Thousands of local words, many of which were unrecorded in the Oxford English Dictionary, were nominated by people across the UK.

They include Suffolk phrase On the huh.

Translation: Crooked, not level

This phrase is used to describe something that is askew. For example if you were to put a new picture up in your house and it wasn’t level, you would say it was “on tha huh”.


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Others around the country include ginnel (alleyway), didlum, (community savings scheme), bobowler (large moth), and twitten (alleyway).

Poets will perform new works incorporating the words on BBC radio on National Poetry Day on September 28.

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Broadcaster and lexicographer Susie Dent said the poems “will shine a light into a lexicon that’s too often overlooked.

“Our local words and expressions are very much part of an oral tradition, and printed records are often hard to find,” she said.

“The words reflect some of the verve and vibrancy of our local tongues. I’m probably not allowed to be biased, but Devon’s ‘dimpsy’ has long been a favourite of mine.”

A poem featuring all 12 words will be performed by 19-year-old poet and spoken word artist Isaiah Hull.

Some of the words will go into the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Its associate editor Eleanor Maier said: “Not only were we reminded of the breadth and vitality of the country’s dialects, but we were also able to identify and research a large number of new words for future inclusion in the OED, as well as gain valuable information about the currency of local words included in the first edition of the dictionary.”

Poets taking part include Vidyan Ravinthiran, Dean Wilson, Liz Berry and Hollie McNish.

List of words:

Ginnel (an alleyway), Leeds

Didlum (a community savings scheme), Humberside

Bobowler (a large moth), Birmingham

Twitten (an alleyway), Sussex

Cheeselog (a woodlouse), Berkshire

To twine (to complain), Cumbria

To geg in (to butt in), Merseyside

On the huh (lopsided, wonky), Suffolk

Dimpsy (twilight), Devon

Mardy (moody), Leicester

Gurt (great or very), Bristol

Fam (a familiar form of address for a friend), London

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