Friday, March 27, 2009

Blaefummery anywhen

Today's Guardian has a good feature on regional dialects and how they're being recorded. The focus is mostly on lexical variation - dialect words - and gives a good run through of some weird and wonderful local phrases, but Stuart Jeffries also provides a bigger picture with a few interesting snippets from Susie Dent and Jonnie Robinson. The etymology of some of these dialect terms is explained too:

"Some words just seem born for their task," says Dent, "and the echoic blaefummery is one of them. It is an extension of blaflum (or bleflum/blaeflum), meaning a deception, a hoax, nonsense, or illusion; as a verb it means to cajole or impose upon. There seems to be no indisputable origin: blae means blue or livid - in colour, that is - but perhaps one can see some relation to flummery, flattery, empty talk or humbug, and which word has the charm of having started off its life meaning food, whether made of oatmeal or flour, milk and eggs."

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