British dialects "on brink of extinction"

Britons are struggling to get to grips with the country's rich vocabulary of regional dialects to such an extent that they are "teetering on the brink of extinction", according to a linguistics professor.

A survey of 3,000 people revealed 90 percent of Britons could identify foreign words such as "hasta la vista -- the Spanish for "see you later" -- but only 34 percent knew "scran" was the Merseyside expression for food.

And while 85 percent of Britons knew "weiner" was German for sausage, almost half did not know the Cornish word "oggy" was a pie, thinking it was a cream tea or a soccer chant.

A quarter of Britons thought the Cornish word for tourists -- "emmets" -- came from Spain or Greece, with a fifth of respondents thinking the Yorkshire term for a silly person - "a daft ha-porth" -- was a Danish or Polish phrase.

"The diversity of regional dialects in the UK should be celebrated but this research shows that they're teetering on the brink of extinction," said professor Paul Kerswill of Lancaster University.

"Britons should be encouraged to experience the rich diversity of accents and language in their own country to help keep the idiosyncrasies of the English language alive."

Commissioned by hotel chain Travelodge, the One Poll survey was carried out in September.


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