1 : Alive, Alive-O
The soft one, that is . . .
Usually it is at least doubled -
I prefer to say tripled (trebled?)
BUT (as per the so-called drant ) only
in length :
Oi'm a-gorn' sho-o-opin'
Good examples occur in the discussion (D.4)
of (double) negatives:-
Nothing has a (very long) soft-o sound in the
rural areas; where none is pronounced (per rule)
like bone i.e. with the "mid-u" sound.
The former can be written as no-o-othin;
more conveniently (but less accurately) as naarthin.
As is so depressingly often the case, Norwich
pronunciation has very nearly standardised on
a soft-u (in both words).
We may note that, in Norfolk, the nursery rhyme
re Old Mother Hubbard actually does rhyme.
A difficulty for mono-syllabic words (e.g. shop),
is where the lengthening of sound is inhibited;
particularly so with the truncated words
spo(t), co(t) etc.; which end-up sounding rather
like spar / car. (Also see what in 5. below).
A 3-syllable word, shortened in the dialect -
as so many are - to two, is holiday.
Oi'm a-gorn on moi (h)o-o-oldies.
As the 'oldies' portion suggests entirely the
wrong sound, we are "forced" to write it as
(h)aarldies (sing. aarldy).
Either way, the point is that the first vowel
-sound takes up 75% of the word-length!.
2 : Oh Gard!
Again the parallel with the USA is very striking.
In that country the deity becomes Gard; with
lengthening and some modification of the
standard English sound.
Americans would also be happy with the
Norfolk dog = dorg
(or dawg, but NOT darg);
although this seems another "one-off" case,
at variance with fog, nog etc. - but probably
repeated for frog - IF that word is ever used . . .
"One-off" should not be taken literally : different
spelling patterns have their own exception(s).
We have already seen the Royal treatment
given to often and off (which extends to scoff).
Other words with a hardened soft-o include :
morth (small butterfly), frorst, sorft, corffee.
A similar thing sometimes happens to the soft-a,
where the standard pronunciation uses a soft-o;
a case in point being warspe rather than wasp.
All these vowel-hardenings save time and effort
i.e. by no lengthening of the sound.
3 : Hard Gorn
The coffee example just mentioned is a clear
case of "working backwards" : coffee being
(comparatively) new in this County & country.
It is taken from cough (coff); which is corf
in Norfolk. Likewise corffin, for the action
OR the container.
"Foreigners" studying Norfolk speech cannot
meet higher hurdles than those confronting
actual foreigners (non-English speaking) who
feel compelled to join the English/USA gang.
I allude, of course, to words such as :
cough, tough, though, bough etc.
It may be silly, but it isn't crazy, to follow the
"tough" line where toffee is concerned (= tuffy);
albeit that it is almost the same word as corfy!.
Naturally, toffs are different (if we meet any)
Norfolk follows the "though" line for such words
as enough (enow - but not as in now).
Few words beginning with the soft-o survive
unscathed by the Norfolk tongue (odd and on
manage to escape).
[What] are you a-durn on?
N.B. Use a "mid-u" for Post, not as in roost.
Reply : Oi'm a-gorn-a the Poost Orffus.
First we have a magnificent example of a
Norfolk dis-conjunction : where on replaces of.
4 : Oh, Really?
We just noted that doing is not pronounced
like going, even in Norfolk.
So, how do we relate the local dialect
to standard English in these matters?.
If we are all supposed to say nun for none,
why shouldn't Norfolk opt to line-up with the
foreigners (e.g. in Yorkshire) : in putting  the
letter u into the next category of hardness?.
Given that, why not - boon for bone;
spook for spoke; aloon for alone etc. ?
Of course, the usual inconsistencies undermine
the argument : some and done are inviolate,
with no concession made to "Northern" speech;
gone is gon is gone. . . albeit drawn-out.
Hev he jist go-o-on?
But, then, who was ever daft enough to insist
(I slipped a modified soft-a AND soft-u
in there, didn't I ?!).
that bone, done and gone are all pronounced
A few words which already have a double-o,
e.g. spoon; roof - along with the ones listed
in red above - do, of course, use the
 yes, putting . . . not a putting-green !
5 : The Soft "A"
Given the standard conversion of many a
soft-a to a soft-o, the same end-result can be
expected and usually found.
The vital word what, used as an expletive, OR
at the end of a phrase = war (but rhymes with
tar) - so be sure to give it the full triple length !.
But see below* (Wo-o-o??)
Intriguingly, but mainly in rural areas,
have is pronounced hev;
have not becoming hen(t).
It seems a rare departure; with bad, glad etc.
unaffected; and still sounding a little like sheep.
Also see Chapter E, paras. 7 & 8
regarding have and the past tense.
Another rarity - not in usage terms - is the word
was. This is pronounced with the "mid-u" and
so becomes wooz, as in wood.
So, therefore, woon'(t) for wasn't.
Blarst, E say, tha(t) woon(t) arf a
sharp frorst lars(t) noigh(t)!
Note the retention of the t in frost;
and the dire similarity with won't.
E woon(t) there, bu(t) E 'oon(t) say whoi.
Can has a surprising vowel-change (almost
- Won't is dealt with in Chapter G, : 6 & 7
- The whole muddle is (attempted to be)
sorted out in the final Chapter
an abbreviation; with an alternative available !) :-
Woo(t) * kin [ken] yow mairk-a tha(t)?!.
More rurally : mairk-a the(t) [as in hev].
* N.B. When not accented, what follows the
sound of was (fair enough?) i.e. woo(t).
6 : Parthways
English recognises varieties of vowel-sounds
more complex than simply "hard" and "soft".
[We have made much of the Northern
"mid-u" sound, for one.]
Where standard English does not convert the
soft-a to an o, the Norfolk drant can come
into play once more:-
Our go(tt)a gi(t) some newN.B. the sound remains soft : hence is impossible
ba-a-a(tt)eries fer moi lamp
to lengthen, properly, in print; the long sound
(count 3) precisely parallels that in :
nothin(g), bo(tt)le etc.
Also for the first alphabetical letter, we have said
that many words (e.g. plate ) do not have the
same (see B.5) hard sound as in Standard speech.
There are, of course, large-scale exceptions!.
Aside from the sound-length (greater again),
words like play, say, way do not change;
and retain the genuine hard-a sound.
Words like last, past, path also retain the harder
sound of Southern England. This latter sound is,
again, reinforced by lengthening; so is even
less like Northern speech:
Blarrst, he say! - gi(t) orff tha(t) parrth!.
7 : The Soft "E"
We have already noted in A.7 that
get becomes gi(t), similarly for yet.
The e (now i ) effectively ends the word,
so it is tempting to think that is the reason.
But . . . nothing vowel-wise happens to bet
(or let, met, net etc.) or to mess, dress
(not so sure there. Ah, well . . . .)
To compensate(?), and underlining the use of
yis and noo, the word yesterday becomes
yisty. Oo yis tha' do.
We will meet tomorrow later (as we always do)
- in Section E.5 for the impatient . . .
Meadow becomes midder, and the notable
word head conforms with the shift, as in the
customary warning : Moind yer hid, bor!.
The h is voiced, (except perhaps in Norwich,
thus - Mummy, E 'it me on the 'id!!)
An oddity beloved of gardeners is shud,
for shed (but not for bed, red, dead etc.).
Likewise a shelf becomes a
Ready and already, however, become
riddy and a'riddy; and instead is instid.
8 : Well, Well . . .
More pervasive is the e-to-a shift, notably in
words ending in -ell. Of which, of course,
there are plenty.
Even that modern phenomenon of TV conforms,
as we watch the tally.
Bells are less common than they were
(even in phuns ), whilst dell and gell
are probably unknown in these parts.
On the other hand; fell, Hell, sell, tell, well, yell
are all extremely common words.
They are all pronounced with a soft-a.
An easy rule at last? . . . wall, wall !
As ever, there is a horrible snag;
and there you had it : the conflict
with the "standard" rule (wall = "worl" ).
The best we can do to overcome same is
to use fal, bal, sal etc.
Mum, Oi fal oover!.
Words like never, whether, weather, tether,
Wal Oi navver! - now gi(t) you tha(t) there
knee wo-o-oshed, do tha(t)ll tan narsty.
else, elbow all follow suit.
Gi(v) you tha(t) [object to be scrubbed]
"Well I never" is a very popular expression of
some alba-grease . . .
alarm or amazement; being an abbreviation of
"Well, I never did, in all my born days"
- itself an incomplete statement!
9 : Keep You A-Troshin'
This is the reverse of get = gi(t); where
the soft-e is definitely upgraded instead.
The original (agricultural) word is threshing.
This (apparently "one-off") example is of interest
(as well as fame), in respect of the Irish-style
unwillingness to handle the th-combination.
I have also heard the word adjricultural
(soft-g), but am not sure of its scale of adoption.
Admirably consistent, the Norfolk threshold
becomes troshel, although a threshold has
another optional name : span(t)ry.
Norfolk accepts that the outside world
(i.e. London) can't pronounce the words
again and against proper.
The dialect, having adopted their soft-e sound,
naturally feels free to impose its own "slant"
- hence agin.
Aginst, however, will only occur (if at all)
at the end of a sentence. Compare -
Oi len(t) moi boik agin the wall. [leaned]
When a Norfolk person is against a proposition
they - dorn(t) owld [hold] with-a.
10 : A Burning Issue
In the example in 8. above, tan does duty for
turn. This is not nearly good enough;
maybe we could try taan?
The sound is, once more, Scottish in origin.
Imagine a Scot speaking of his favourite stream
(or poet) without perceptibly "rolling" the r,
but rejecting the alternative of bern.
As for other examples, yearn probably
conforms, instead of becoming yarn
(compare learn in D.3 ).
This may be an important example, resulting
from a kind of intuitive or automatic avoidance-
strategy; because yarn is such a popular
Norfolk word. (We don't have stories).
By far the most important case, after turn,
is heard = haad, NOT 'had' or 'hard'.
Standard English has obliterated the e-sound
in most -ur-, -ir- and even -or- portions of
words ("werds"). Soo (h)alp us!.
This means that the harder "Scottish A"
- which we seem to have stumbled across -
affects very many words e.g. : burn, bird,
birth, girth, thirteen, word (the word) etc. etc.
Bin-a the chaach sarvice, bor?
Yis, Sar, moi waad the(t) Oi hev!
11 : Throwaway Lines
The (usually) fairly neglected word hurl
follows suit and becomes haal or
[as near as dammit] hull.
This is important because, in Norfolk, it
completely replaces throw (as you might
Completely, that is, apart from Norwich slang
chuck and the Norfolk alternatives : cail
- a poor throw, wide of the mark;
and doss (toss, via the d-to-t shift).
Mardle recalls a blook telling the Chemist :
Oi waan(t) some pills woo(t)'ll hull
moi missus in(t)er a swea(t)!.
The same word suffixed by -up is a
coarse alternative to vomit.
Another soft-a conversion appears in can,
the result depending a bit on emphasis:-
Cin you git-a? : Yis, Oi cen.
The latter shift goes for catch; but is not likely
to matter to the person on the receiving-end,
as he (hopefully) cops (h)owld of the missile -
and only has a cetch on his cupboard door.
Mardle says that cop also is a gentle throw :
transitive and intransitive usage, so to speak!.
To fang-howld of something is to grab
or seize it (as a wolf?).
The errant schoolboy (already implicated) may
cop merely angry words; but (where corporal
punishment persists) he may get a
clip or ding i.e. have his ears "boxed".
The only ears he would know about are found
on corn, as his own are invariably lugs.
Come you (h)air, do you'll gi(t)
a clip-a the lug!
[clip of : ONE lug]
12 : Punch Lines
More serious fisticuffs might include a custard,
a "sidewinder" (punch to the temple?), or a
resulting black-eye : a Swarston Winder.
Although winder is pronounced
(in both cases) with a hard-i, the latter
is most probably a different type of winder
(in fact a window ).
I concur with Skipper that the village of
Swardeston can hardly claim the monopoly,
as the German word schwarz (black) is
favourite : hence, 'blackened window'.
A blow of somewhat greater force than a ding
is a clou(t) (as in hammering broad-headed
nails) or a cut :-
Oi give 'im a cu(t)-a the skull!
Other words used to describe
a thorough beating are :
Most intriguingly, a sisserera. Any guesses?!
- troshin(g) (obvious workaday reference);
- thackin(g) (see Behaviour);
- solin(g) (as in hammering repaired shoes?);
- lardin(g); and
Bombastic behaviour is usually verbal only,
but in Norfolk : a bumbaste is another word
used for fisticuffs.
A verb (which would sound too much like
lambing, if used as a noun) is lam [slam?] :
Oi din'(t) arf lam in(t)a 'im! -
Punishment of a different kind, a whiplash,
[in Norwich : in(t)erim !]
is a lanner; whilst a butt is a bun(t).
To kick somebody, or to trip him/her up,
is to hock them.
If all this violence makes the Norfolk person
scared to go abroad (out and about),
he may say - Oi dussn'(t) goo.
The ancient word durst nearly always
replaces dare, certainly in negative form.
Positively, it is pronounced less like
dust - say daast.
[as with burst, first etc. in 10. above]