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MS polishes UK dialect dictionaries

Last call for vocab, me old china plates

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Microsoft is calling for final contributions to its UK dialect dictionaries - due for free release in July.

The plan is to prevent its spellcheckers picking out non-Redmond terminology, the BBC reports, thereby eliminating the wtf? redlining of un-American vocab.

The idea was spawned in Oz, and later adopted in Blighty. MS UK has worked with The British Library on the project, and while Devon, Yorkshire, and Lancashire have come up with the goods, areas such as Cambridge have so far failed to deliver.

Nonetheless, MS is now in the process of "sifting through the thousands of responses with a view to compiling dictionaries specific to certain areas". Microsoft Office 2007 product manager Darren Strange said: "It's the diversity of Britain's dialects that has led us to develop the new dictionaries. So in future, your Microsoft Outlook will be able to recognise emails where you ask your "marra" to get you a "buttie" instead of inserting red lines beneath all the unfamiliar words.

"We wanted to give everyone the chance to adapt and personalise their software, and at the same time recognise the diversity of dialects we use here in the UK that makes us completely different to any other country in the world."

To underline this last point, Jonathan Robinson, curator of English accents and dialects at The British Library, chipped in with: "Britain has a rich heritage of different accents and dialects and, contrary to popular opinion, there is still a great deal of lexical diversity across the UK - where else would you find the words 'cob', 'batch', 'bun', 'barm cake', 'stotty cake', 'scuffler' and 'bread cake', all meaning bread roll?"

Readers wishing to contribute to the dissemination of proper English can get details here.

The 31 May deadline for submissions has been extended, the Beeb says, presumably to allow the good burghers of Cambridge to pull their linguistic fingers out. ®

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