The linguist log: Nottingham slang

Words. Wonderful glorious expressions of thought, ideas and actions. And people! Strange and confusing yet mostly lovely creatures who use these mystical items. Depending on where you come from, these can vary greatly. I’m not even talking about the British vs American, though I have adopted “pants” among others, much to the distress of many, I just mean British regional variation.

I’m from North Wales, with a mix of Norfolk and Cockney in the family, and I’ve recently discovered that Nottingham has some pretty odd slang. Slang like “wappy”. When I first discovered “wappy” all I could do was laugh. I had never heard it or any of the other Nottingham slang before and thus had no idea what it could possibly mean. Also, it sounds rather odd doesn’t it? As it turns out “wappy” means something thin, bendy and insubstantial. The example I was given was “the papers got wet and have gone all wappy”.

What do think “whittling” means? To me “whittling” means carving wood with only a knife. In Nottingham this means to worry unnecessarily over something. I originally thought I was hearing it wrong and that it was “wittering”, like a bird, which is something I use but nope. “Whittling”.

The next one is the source of debate: how do you make a cup of tea? In my home town and everywhere else, you odd-speaking, green-tighted thief you “brew” tea. In Nottingham, you “mash” it. I feel if you have to mash your teabag then you may want to invest in better tea.

And last but not least: “tazzing about”. Now I thought this one was a longer more interesting way of saying to wander about slowly. As usual, I was completely wrong. It is the total opposite, in fact, meaning “to run around like a headless chicken”. Strange but true.

And so I say thank you to Nottingham for the entertainment. May your oddness be enjoyed by many more in the future.


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