An American friend was amused when I was showing him around London and introduced him to the Gherkin. No, not the cucumber-like fruit, but the building also known as the Swiss Re Building, or 30 St Mary Axe in the City of London.

A new project is to document the nicknames Brits give to where we live and local landmarks. Location Lingo aims to capture these names and the stories behind them. It’s not all about fun though – the research will serve a serious purpose:

“With the huge variety of place nicknames that exist we could never hope to capture them all ourselves” says Glen Hart, our Head of Research. “Technically this research goes by the name of Vernacular Geography which is looking into which names should be recorded and how best to discover them.

“Projects like Location Lingo can provide us with useful research data to help answer these questions. Organisations like the emergency services rely on our information when responding to 999 calls, so by having the most complete set of ‘unofficial’ names we could help the emergency services quickly locate the right place, and maybe even save lives.” (Source: Ordnance Survey Blog)

You can contribute your own Location Lingo through the English Project’s website.