It may well be a myth that Eskimos have 40 words for snow, but I can vouch for the fact that the old Sussex dialect in the U.K. had at least 31 words for the local meteorological effect that most directly affects the people there. The one you might be familiar with is MUD. Of course nowadays most people only have a passing relationship with the glorious stuff, while walking across the village green, say, or driving their 4x4 across a farmers wheat field. The resulting conversation is likely to be limited to something like "just look at all that mud".

Ah! but our wise forebears lived with the stuff, spent their days up to their knees in it, perhaps even fed on it a bit more than we. They really knew their mud. Even the beauty of local girls was ascribed to the amazing qualities of Sussex mud. Everyone knew that Sussex girls had the longest legs because they had to pull them out of the mud at each step. Tarmac has a lot to answer for.

The proud owner of a state of the art 4x4 returning home from a carve up of the local farmers land would have immense riches at his disposal when it came to describe his adventure. No "look at the mud" for him, you could expect something more like:

"I slubbered a bit, crossing the pug to get to my vehicle, and once inside I couldn't help but get the carpet all spanneled and grabby with slob. Anyways I drove up the smeery track looking for some good clodgy going, a few miles up the track I spun on some slab right into the field, you know where the stoached stodge is all paunched and the beasts have poached it. What a great time I had getting the car all slommocky with slabby gubber. The ike got really slobby down towards the slough at the bottom. Stoachy! It was more like slubby gawm, everything gromed and slubbed-up till the thing was gormed up completely. I had to get out and dig, but me shovel got cledgy in the stoach. So here I am, I had to walk back through the sleech and slurry down by the stuggy swank. And to prove it I've stabbled the whole house with stug slub".

The nimble witted amongst you will of course have noticed that 'stug slub' is a contradiction in terms, but what do you expect from someone driving a 4x4 50 years before they were invented?

Glossary


cledgy - earth sticking to the spade when digging is cledgy. clodgy - muddy and wet like a field path after heavy rain. gawm (gorm garm) - especially sticky foul smelling mud. gormed up - stuck seized with mud. gubber - black anaerobic mud of rotting organic matter. grabby - grimy, filthy with mud. grom - to make dirty or muddy. ike (hike) - a mess or area of mud. paunch - to break up fairly coherent mud "those cows they do paunch about the mud so". poach - to tread the muddy ground into holes as do cattle. pug - a kind of loam - particularly the sticky yellow Wealden clay. slab - thickest mud. slabby - sticky, slippery, greasy, dirty mud. sleech - mud or river sediment used for manure - especially from the River Rother. slob - thick mud. slobby - a sate of muddiness where it is difficult to extricate the boot at each step "the way here was very wearisome through dirt and slobbiness". slough (slogh) - a muddy hole. slub - thick mud - used as slush is elsewhere. slubby - dirty with stiff and extremely tenacious mud. slub-up - to make stiff with mud, he come ome all of a slub. slubber - to slip in mud. slurry - diluted mud distinct from slub, saturated with so much water that it cannot drain, churned up into a cream or paste with water. slommocky - made dirty with mud. smeery - wet and sticky surface mud, not clodgy or slobby. spannel - to make dirty with mud as would a spaniel on a floor. stabble - to walk thick mud into the house. stoach - to trample ground, like cattle, also the silty mud at Rye Harbour. stoachy - dirty, mildly muddy. stoached -an entry to a field in bad weather is stoached (and poached). stodge - thick puddingy mud. stug - watery mud. stuggy - filled with watery mud. swank - a bog.

Source: A dictionary of the Sussex dialect. The Rev. W. D. Parish. 1875

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