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Norfolk Talk

Chapter B : Hold You Hard

  (Paras. 1 to 8)

2. Here & There :  3. Do You? :  4. The Hard U   6. The Rood Ahead :  7. Slippery Sloop :  8. Oh Boy

1 : Is It Clare?

So important has it been to establish the
pre-eminent place of the word  that  (see A.8)
- in the overall scheme of things -
we have left many vowel-sounds unexplored.

Examples already given make it clear that
Norfolk does not recognise the  e-plus-a
pseudo-diphthong, ignoring the leading  e.

Here is another : Gi(t) tha(t) moo-er in(t)a gare
(as in  rare,  not a French rail-station).

Notice the subtle difference, in practice, between
into  and  isn't it  [ they each lose ONE  t  ].

Many a conversation, involving both sexes,
will - at some point - include :
Thass all roigh(t), moi dare!
Other important words are : hare   (aural);
fare   (afraid); nare   (close to); rare   (backside).

Not that  tha(t) appare  such a silly practice,
when considering the fruit of the pear-tree . . .
Can you bear to think about it?!

A Norfolk person's occasional treat - a visit to
the  theatre - presents a problem, given that
this is essentially a French word.
In practice, the 'e' is strengthened, but the 'a'
is replaced by a  soft-e,  giving  thee-e(tt)er :
rendered in two distinct syllables.

Harking back to the  Norfolk O,  an excellent
example is the Norfolk hero (e.g. Nelson)
who is described as a   rairl hairoo.

2 : Here & There

Words like  here, mere; beer, queer  are given
exactly the same treatment. My favourite
is the local barber, whose advertising
board says : Hair today and Gone tomorrow.

Of course, we already have  hare   (or  hair)
= the result of listening.
So what?? - the  originals  are  hear  and  here.
At least, in our dialect,the sister-words [here,
there, where] are consistently pronounced.
Only little old Norfolk is in step (again !).

There is a down side : e.g.  bear, bare
and  beer  all sound the same!.
To make confusion worse confounded,  Mardle
contends that the sound is sometimes turned
through 180 degrees, thus :-
while  here = hair,  chair may = cheer.

Luckily I am largely  unaweer  of this [very Scots]
phenomenon . . . It does, however, resonate
with the general perversity of Norfolk  talk.

Words  fare  and  rare  hold  great  sway
in the dialect. I believe that they sound
very much "as normal", subject only to a
(fair !)  lengthening  of sound.
See  Swaffham  (J.6)

This (vowel) drawing-out process, of which
more later, is the Norfolk drawl or  drant.

3 : Do You?

What is not  all roigh(t)  is to indulge in
gratuitous re-spellings.
Some "ethnic" writers use  orl  for  all;  when
they must know that the pronunciation
follows the U. K. standard.

You might just as well write  sum  for  some,
or  dun  for  done  etc.

Our County motto (per UEA) is  Do Different,
but the pronunciation is hardly clarified by
Du -  surely how we all do (i.e. say) it ?!?.
Mardle and Skipper  both claim to have identified
a particularly Norfolk way of saying the word;
making it more like  dew  (or the French  u).

    Maybe tha(t) do, an' maybe tha(t) dorn(t).
As a City boy, this goes
parst moi lugs  (ears).
The tendency to "milk" other vowels (the
drant ), as in  larst  and,  in particular,
the soft-o (dealt with in the next Chapter)
is of far greater significance and importance.

My belief is that the "hard-u" applies in the
case of DO [well, nowadays . . . ] as follows.

4 : Boo(TI)ful - The Hard "U"

This has been made famous by national
advertising (for Turkeys); but USA forces
personnel (still to be found hereabouts)
would wonder at the resulting laughter.
Beautiful, duty, etc. are words consistently
rendered with a  kind of  double-o, on the
other side of "the pond".

Try "fruit-juice". Are you shuur?.

The  t  in the middle of  beautiful  is not
pronounced; which makes it virtually impossible
to retain the following letter.
The resulting word has only 2 spoken syllables
boo'ful ),  the first of which (according to
Skipper)   rhymes with  new.

Again, with much trepidation, I offer a slight
correction (clarification?) : it rhymes with how
most  Norfolk  people say  new - which certainly
isn't with an  e !!

 

5 : The Hard "A"

The Geordie connection is again evident in the
sound of e.g.  gate, plate  (even  wait ) which,
especially outside the City, are invariably
modified with an  ir  : giving  gair(t)  and  plair(t).

The most common/useful example may be
mairk  (sometimes written as 'mearke').

Many words with no final  e  are given the  sairm
treatment. E.g.  lazy, daisy, famous, basin,
train, danger
  - you  nairm   it!

As ever, some lengthening of the sound occurs,
as noted by  Forby :
'like the bleating of a very young lamb'.

See  C.6  Parthways  for  Hard-A Revisited.

6 : The Rood Ahead

Before leaving the hard vowels, there is
another twist to the "Norfolk O".

The Geordie connection (or the Scottish,
if you wish) - Viking anyway - relates.

Remember  "When the Boat Comes In" ?.
Here Geordies respect the combination of
o  and  a;  rather than assuming
(like a Londoner) that  boat  rhymes with  tote.

In Norfolk a little less respect is accorded
(as with e-plus-a).

The result is a very clipped version which,
unsurprisingly, ends-up only a hair's-breadth
from the ubiquitous "mid-u" sound of  book.
This gives us  boat  =  boo(t) -
but pronounced like foot.

So a Norfolk road is a  rood,
to rhyme with  wood.

7 : The Slippery Sloop

In theory, then, there is no true Norfolk  boot
(BBC-style), as this would imply a word  bote
- which does not exist (and, if it did, would be
treated like  spoke! ).

Sadly, I have to report an ever-dwindling
number of (older) citizens who use the  book
sound, when referring to a floating vessel.
New generations have taken on board that  boat
really "must" rhyme with  tote; so they render it
as a large item of footwear.

At a  strook , a dialect rule has
thus been  brook.
  [ mid-u's  A.4  remember ! ]

Boot  has thus arrived, waterborne; so let's make
sure ("shewer",  as Mr. Blair would say) that our
butes  are waterproof (waterprufe?).
Football fans will know that, although  goat
rhymes with  footgoal  does not.

    Hurrah we-a  [pronounced as  where]
    scored a ghoul!!
    ^Top^

8 : Oh Boy!

Drat, there is yet another kind of  o -
as in  boy, toy  etc.
The Norfolk tongue somehow manages to
double the vowel, while retaining the  y : and it is
hard to suggest the actual  nooise   that results.
It may help to think of the  y  in its vowel-form,
hence  boo-i.  Ah wal, Oi troid Boo-i!

Bad boys are rascals, for which the
Norfolk is (sing.) a  noin(t)er.
If they kick-up a "racket", in Norfolk the noise
is a  ra(tt)ick  or  ra(tt)ock;  or a  lumberin'.
If a rascal tells a lie  (loi)  it can also be termed
hummer.

It is not only naughty boys who get
into trouble and may be  told-orff.
Oi go-o-o(t) wro-o-o-ng  means I was reprimanded.
(As distinct from  Oi done wro-o-o-ng)
Likewise the warning :
You'll gi(t) wro-o-o-ng, do you....  [if you....]
which may save you getting into trouble.

A nice tale concerns the now defunct
Royal Norfolk Regiment.
The enemy in the Peninsular War took the
figure of  Brittania  (on the regimental badge)
to be the Virgin Mary. As a result, the
Regiment got the nickname the  Holy Boys.

Conversely, on another occasion, the soldiers
of the  9th Regiment of Foot  had to sell
their Bibles, as they were desperate for food.
They then became known as the  Hungry Ninth.

The standard Norfolk term for a soldier
is  swoddy   (squaddy).

Roaring Boys  is a term for the men
who salted the herring catch.


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