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
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
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 foot, goal does not.
Hurrah we-a [pronounced as where]
scored a ghoul!!
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
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.