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Unique dialect lives on as Gower book is published

A new book helps preserve an important characteristic of an historic corner of Wales.


The dialect local to the Gower peninsula evolved separately from its roots in England - and now has its own handy reference work.

The Gower Glossary highlights hundreds of words which were once the linguistic currency of south Gower.

Written by Rob Penhallurick and Benjamin A Jones, it is one of 50-plus projects delivered by the Gower Landscape Partnership, a £1.9m initiative inspiring people to look after the area's distinctive features.

Funding came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Welsh Government, National Trust and Natural Resources Wales, with Swansea Council the lead partner.

Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: "The Gower Glossary will be a fine addition to bookshelves around the world, wherever there's an interest in the heritage of Swansea, Gower and Wales.

"This and other work by the Gower Landscape Partnership will inspire people to help make the area thrive in future years."

Swansea University English language academic Dr Penhallurick said: "Language in Gower evolved differently from most of the rest of Wales and the UK because of the area's location, largely separated from the mainland of Wales but exposed to the shipping routes in the Bristol Channel.

"Some words are thought to derive from the Old English that started to be spoken in the peninsula from around the 12th century, following the Norman Conquest.

"English has been spoken in Gower for longer than most parts of Wales. The evidence is that the early pioneers sailed from Somerset and Devon and settled in the south of the peninsula after the fertile land there had been taken over by the invading Normans.

"North Gower as a rule remained Welsh-speaking — a situation reinforced centuries later when coal was discovered, attracting many Welsh-speaking workers.

"Our book brings together hundreds of words which were once the linguistic currency of south Gower. It was previewed at this summer's Gower Show and received a very warm welcome.

"The dialect has for the most part disappeared, but there is still an awareness that Gower people are rather different from other south Walians."

Dr Penhallurick published Gowerland and its Language 25 years ago. The glossary is an updated and condensed version of this work. It will be launched at an event in Cilibion, Gower, on October 19.

Dr Jones is an independent linguistics researcher.

The limited edition book is being distributed to Swansea's schools, libraries and a number of community organisations. It has English and Welsh editions.

More details: Email

Photo: Co-authors Rob Penhallurick, centre, and Benjamin Jones with Swansea Council's Jacqualyn Box with new book Gower Glossary.


South Gower dialect words include:

  • Boobach n - a scare crow, or noun.
  • Copped adj - Cheeky, audacious, or lofty.
  • Flummery n- porridge.
  • Fraith adj - talkative, or free-spoken.
  • Grouts n - leftover tea dregs or leaves.
  • Gulge v - To drink noisily and greedily.
  • Herring-gutted adj - lean.
  • Horvie adj - foul or dirty.
  • Jugglemire n - a quagmire, or swamp.
  • Lonk adj - hungry.
  • Mawbound adj - suffering from stomach ache.
  • Nesseltrip n - The smallest piglet of a litter.
  • Peert adj - Lively, or brisk
  • Plud n- a puddle
  • Purty adj - sulky, displeased.
  • Shonk adj- smart or nimble, used for active elderly people.
  • Sket n - To fly out, used of sparks, flecks of paint, specks of rain.
  • Sukker n - a sheltering place (from wind).
  • Vitty/vitty-handed adj - Handy, or skilful.
  • Zogged adj- boggy, or sogged.
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