Artist explores Sunderland’s wonderful words with Mackem dictionary

Paul Swinney with the 24 Hours in Sunderland exhibition in The Bridges featuring photographs by himself and Andy Martin.
Paul Swinney with the 24 Hours in Sunderland exhibition in The Bridges featuring photographs by himself and Andy Martin.
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The wonderland world of Wearside words is explored in a new Mackem dictionary.

Created by artist Paul Swinney, in collaboration with Sunderland-based publishers ALS, the Mackem 
Dictionary captures the rich range of words and phrases commonly used on Wearside, all set out in a 
tongue-in-cheek dictionary format. 

The Mackem dictionary

The Mackem dictionary

The book, which captures the unique nature of the Wearside accent, is being released next month in aid of SAFC’s charity, The Foundation of Light.

Author Paul Swinney said: “The aim of the dictionary is to celebrate the unique elements of the Mackem accent and its phrases. The whole thing started from posting a Mackem word of the day on Facebook and Twitter.

“The response I received was overwhelming, it was great to see how much pride people have in our city.

“So I went away, expanded the idea and made it into a book.”

Paul, who often celebrates Sunderland in his work, said: “At only £5, it’s the perfect stocking filler or secret Santa present, and should have pride of place in every discerning Mackem’s coffee table or book shelf or even in their toilet!

“And I’m really pleased to be able to give the proceeds to the Foundation of Light.

“They do a lot of great work in our community and I want this celebration of our culture to be able to support that.”

Martyn McFadden from The Foundation of Light’s Development Board and publishers, ALS, said: “We’re delighted that Paul asked us to be involved with this project and that all the proceeds from the book are going to the Foundation.

“I’ve followed Paul’s posts on social media and love the way the book captures the wit of Wearside and our city’s unique culture.”

•The book will be on sale at Waterstones and The ALS Shop from November 1, but can be pre ordered from www.alsshop.co.uk.

Some of the Mackem dictionary words

•acker/v

to lose one’s cool

example:‘e went proper acker like, took a reet dicky radge

•alarne/adj and adv

to be on one’s own

example: if yer dinnet leave ‘im alrane yer’ll ‘av me ter answer tee, areet?

•beauts/n

hard wearing footwear used for walking, sport of manual activity

example:yer as tough as ard beauts.