1. ITV Report

Cheerio marvellous: The words disappearing from the English vocabulary

'Cheerio' is declining in popularity, according to the study. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Things are no longer marvellous and they are certainly not fetch - but they are awesome, according to a new study.

Researchers charting the rise and fall of English vocabulary have found Brits are saying "cheerio" to phrases such as fortnight, pussy cat and Walkman thanks to the rise of American influences on British culture.

Facebook, Google, iPhone and essentially have become characteristic of the early 2010s, initial findings from a Lancaster University and Cambridge University study suggest.

'Facebook' is on the rise but our love of the 'Walkman' is falling. Credit: Jessica Binsch/DPA/Press Association Images

The Spoken British National Corpus study hopes to shed light on how the English language changes over time - from the 1990s to now.

The 10 words that epitomised the 1990s were:

  • Fortnight
  • Marvellous
  • Fetch
  • Walkman
  • Poll
  • Catalogue
  • Pussy cat
  • Marmalade
  • Drawers
  • Cheerio

Whereas the 10 most characteristic of the early 2010s are:

  • Facebook
  • Internet
  • Website
  • Awesome
  • Email
  • Google
  • Smartphone
  • IPhone
  • Essentially
  • Treadmill

In 2014, the word "awesome" appeared 72 times per million words compared to "marvellous", which fell in use from 155 times per million 20 years ago to just twice per million today.

The word 'treadmill' is gaining popularity with the rise of the gym culture. Credit: Oliver Berg/DPA/Press Association Images

Professor Tony McEnery, from the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science at Lancaster University, said the initial findings "suggest the things that are most important to British society are indeed reflected in the amount we talk about them."

We need to gather hundreds, if not thousands, of conversations to create a spoken corpus so we can continue to analyse the way language has changed over the last 20 years.

We are calling for people to send us MP3 files of their everyday, informal conversations in exchange for a small payment to help me and my team to delve deeper into spoken language.

– Prof Tony McEnery

Find out how to join the study here.