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Onion - and other Bermudian words - go to Oxford!

Rosemary Hall (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A batch of Bermudian words has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary for the first time – along with a guide on how to pronounce them.

Aceboy, Gombey, greeze, mice, and mug are among the new entries, included because of Bermudian linguist Rosemary Hall’s work as a consultant with the OED.

Dr Hall, of the University of Leeds, wrote in a blog entry on the OED website: “While the addition of this batch of words is particularly exciting for me as a Bermudian, it is also a landmark moment for the OED and for World English enthusiasts.

“With an estimated 65,000 speakers, Bermudian English is the smallest national variety yet to be represented in the OED. It’s also one of the oldest.

“Settled in 1612, Bermuda was one of the very first places – after Jamestown, Virginia – where English was spoken outside the British Isles.”

Dr Hall, who grew up in Bermuda, said the island’s location was probably one of the reasons why its dialect was little studied for many years, even among scholars of lesser-known varieties of English.

She wrote her MPhil thesis at Oxford University in 2018 on the origins of the Bermudian dialect. The abstract can be found here.

She added: “Linguists classify World Englishes into groups including the British Isles and the Americas and the Caribbean, and while Bermuda has links with both of these areas, it does not neatly fit into either category.

“Equally, as a dependent territory that was uninhabited when it was discovered, Bermuda does not meet the criteria for either of the World Englishes types of ‘settler colonial’ and ‘postcolonial’, but sits somewhere in between.

“A bit like the Bermuda triangle, it’s ambiguous, but that’s what makes it so interesting!”

Dr Hall said the OED decided that a Bermudian English model was needed to go with the new words to give readers a general guide to pronunciation.

The full list of Bermudian words added to the updated March 2021 OED is: aceboy, acegirl, Bermudian English, chingas, chopse, chopsing, go long, Gombey, greeze, gribble, mice, mug, Onion, well, and wrinch.

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Published March 17, 2021 at 6:39 pm (Updated March 17, 2021 at 6:39 pm)

Onion - and other Bermudian words - go to Oxford!

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