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Norfolk Talk

Chapter E : Knowing What Counts

(Paras. 1 to 9)

2. Calling Time :  3. Consonants
4. No Tea, Wicar?:  5. Putting it All Agatha
  6. Come All Ye :  7. Say, Mate, Let's Concatenate
8. Raising The Ire :  9. Painting Pictures

1 : Numbers

Well, numbers as they are spook -
a not unimportant aspect of speech!
  • 2 - begins with an unhappy letter, so a
         Norfolk person (in any practical situation)
         will always ask for a  couple.
  • With  3 - tough !
         But you may just - IF (on the day),
         the "avoidance-mechanism" isn't working,
         hear it as  tree.
         N.B. The Cockney practice, of replacing
         th  with  f,  is definitely NOT accepted.
  • As for  4 - no contest! : it  must,  for a son
         of the soil, rhyme with  sour  and   flour.
  • 7 - In rural areas you may well hear  seeven
         (as in  even).
Common (urban and rural) forms are :
    noin - as in German neun;
    levven (just ignore the first letter) ;
    twalve* - as for  bell  etc. (see  C.8) ;
    tha(tt)een - as for  turn  etc. (see  C.10) ;
    twe(tt)y*; tha(tt)y;
    hundre(t)
      (as German hundert).
*Dozen  and  score,  respectively, are used
in preference - to avoid more  t s !
Now for an important fraction : 1/4 = kor(t)er.

Imperial measurements include (predictably)
poin(t)  [liquid, not decimal] & stoon  [ "mid-u"];
(less predictably)  airca, for  acre.
[Similarly, Acle village is  Aircl,  not Ackley]

Plurals exist (?), but Norfolk measurements
are always singular, as in present-day Dutch :-

    two foo(t), twalve yard, eigh(t) moil,
    six airca
      (and, I bet,  fower litre!).
A large number is a  mort
(Icelandic fishermen derivation?)

Historical footnote :
a farthing was  farden  (as in  garden).

2 : Time, Gentle-Persons

    Wooss the clock?.
    Maybe . . . a kor(t)er parst;  or . . .
    Thass 'alf ar(t)er fower.
Lastly, replacing (as ever) the word  needs :
    Tha(t) wan(t) a kor(t)er ter foive.
    Accordin'lie-a the clo-o-ock, tha(t)
    ha' gone foive a'riddy, he say
    .
The clock's owner replies :
Dorn' you pay noo regard-a tha(t) there
clo-o-ock, tha(t) gi(t) !

The alternative, of course, is : tha(t) lose !

The word  time  itself, as we see  elsewhere,
means  while  OR  when;  in a similar fashion
to Northerners' use of  while  meaning  until.

Time is money, both in short supply in the
Norfolk backwoods. The worst poverty
(the old Norwich  yards  or Yarmouth  rows)
may have gone; but local people can be
every bit as "careful" as the Scots.

Words for money (not general slang, like
spondulicks ) include  cu(t)er  (or kew(t)er).

Having ready money
(not being  skun(t))  is to  hold :

    Do  [= if]  you (h)owld  [1] , Bor,
    then we'll goo-a the pub.
The amount "held" may be minimal : a
latch-lifter  i.e. just enough to get them
through the door.
Then they would probably have to "Go Dutch" :
in Norfolk an  Elsham Trea(t). (Aylsham).

[1] - NOT as in Oi dorn' (h)owld wi' drinkin'.

3 : Consonants

So far, all the emphasis has been on
changing vowel-sounds.
Students of other European languages
will know that consonants can shift, too.
For example, the famous  d -to- t  shift,
as between English and German; and
the latter's difficulty with the  v-sound.

Norrigers nowadays have no problem with
wicked  or  very  (or very wicked?), but
it has been traditional in Norfolk to render
these words as  wicke(t)  and  werry
(actually more like  werra).

Firstly, and bizarrely, the  t  is (of course) silent;
so the change from  d  is largely to be inferred !
Secondly, a  wherry  has (for centuries) been
a very important trading vessel.

To avoid confusion (and a bit of Teutonic
tongue-twisting?), and to lend even greater
emphasis (at times), the word  wholly  is
much prized and heavily utilised.

Of course, it is quite removed from  holy
(a true double-o used here), so our
old friend the  "mid-u"  triumphs again.
Usually written as  whully  or maybe  hully,
it is best as  (w)hoolly  - reminding one of
cosy winter jumpers.

Another example is  wittals   for  food.
The word (wittles/wittals) is found in Dickens,
who knew more than a little about Yarmouth.
Those unaware of what a Licensed Victualler is
(most?) will not know the actual word - victuals.
The orthodox pronunciation for LV is  vittler.

A weather-vane is a wane.

    Heyya bin upta the wicarage?
    ^Top^

4 : No Tea, Wicar?

    (E say, less goo 'oom agatha . . .)
Norfolk fully aligns itself with the, apparently,
worldwide aversion to the letter T;  including
leading-t's and those in the middle of words.
This is bound to affect the important words
to  and  too,  which lack the softening effect of
th,  as in - this, there, that, then . . .

A drastic  "it-type"  solution (compare  A.8 )
is employed for  toochange the word !.
Actually the word-count doubles, which would
be very inefficient - but for the joining-up.

Thus :  and-all  = anall
(best written as  anorl,  for anatomical reasons).
Sure, the syllable-count still doubles;
but you can't have everything . . .

    E give [gave] me a cup-a drink an'
    a free straw anorl.
Note : and  therefore occurs twice; in fact
he had a filled cup, a straw and
nothing  else  (no ALL).

For the word  to,  full advantage is taken of its
status as a conjunction i.e. it is seldom found
at the  beginning  of a sentence.
(To be or not to be?)
It can thus be reduced to a suffix, as in
our standard phrase : a-gorn-a goo.

The suffix is little more than a grunt.
Only contextual help is available for
those unable to decipher grunts . . .

See 7. below Concatenation : the conjunction
of  is just as easily relegated :
E talk a lood-a squi(t)!

The useful words  something  and  nothing
are always difficult  second-half-wise.
The former is abused in much the same way
as in London  (suthin' /suffin').
Oddly [because of fewer letters?] the latter
does  not  become  nuffin  (or  nuttern ).
(See some  earlier  references to the soft-O)

5 : Putting It All Agatha

Two important words (at least; one of them
highly  favoured in these parts) begin with  to.

The prized case can be relied upon to be
buried inside a sentence (apart from political
perorations); so the first syllable can be treated
casually, as for the said conjunction.

Hence  agatha - who may be a lady but
must have her SECOND syllable accented.
She is also a victim of the (soft) e-to-a shift.

There is no good reason not to write  agather :
most English folk pronounce  -er  words minus
the  r  : down-grading the  e  accordingly.
Gratuitous re-spellings (e.g.  orl )  revisited!
(See  B.3)

  5 : Putting It All Agatha (contd.)

Even bogus languages have been invented
e.g. Australian Strine, of which the only example
I can recall is :- 'Tiger peera spargly guys'
(Take a pair of sparkling eyes).
See  ASSWAHREESAY.

If the  occasional  invented word does no harm,
here is our other important "to-word":-

    Amara  (stressed second syllable),
    as in  Chair-ioo, seeya amara.
    cf.  armada  pronunciation.
Norfolk (and the rest of England) indulges in
plenty of "skating-over" in the French manner.
We have mentioned  -er  endings; and the
-ow  ending in the last example is also
"swallowed" or grunted.
In most UK dialects, even the vital word  you
gets the skating-over treatment.

Another example :-
Hi-ya! Cen Oi bara a couple-a quid?

6 : Come All Ye

The Norfolk  together  is prized, as I have said,
because its social use is quite distinct.

It means -
"All you members of my current audience".
Members may number as little as two,
as in  Yarn Q;  or even just the one!!

A group of lads, on a pub-crawl, may be
urged-on by their leader thus -

    Come you on agatha, thass nairly cloosen-toime!
    (Accordin'lie they ha(tt)er gi(t) a-gorn)
A Norfolk toast to the assembled company is
"an' hair uz moi opinion on yer, agatha".

Two other words which acquire a special gloss
in the County are  rare  and  treat.

Rare  may be used in all its normal contexts,
        but has the (more frequent) use as
        extreme  - extreme  anything;  or  extremely -
Thass a rare good hoss!

Treat (but not as in treating something seriously,
        or in a legalistic sense) is the Norfolk word
        for anything  good, impressive or enjoyable.

    Yure done tha(t) a trea(t) ; tha(t) look a
    trea(t) ; thass comin-on a trea(t)
      [i.e. well]
The mind boggles at the state of excitement
built-up when the words are used in conjunction:-
    Thass a rare trea(t), tha(t) tha(t) is !!
An actual treat, involving food and drink,
is termed a  lush-up.

7 : Say, Mate, Let's Concatenate

Although the word is unknown hereabouts,
the natives have  mastered  the methodology.

They have raised it to the art-form found
in French (see 5. above - not Dutch, for once).

We have noted how conjunctions, like
to  and  of  disappear into mere grunts.
The same fate often befalls  you.
Even the ultra-important word  have
can be affected.

This is when it is used, subordinately, as part
of the  past/conditional-tense;  hence is
"buried" within a sentence. For example:-

    E would-a go-o-on [have gone]
    but (h)is moo-er conked-ou(t).
    E tal me they a-(h)ad a brairk-in   or
    E a-(h)ad a operairtion.
[ N.B. no use of  an  permitted ]   
Oral Exercise for students :
Say  "a-ad"  for "have had".

Hev  is, in truth, only its Sunday face.
"Tops and Tails" count, otherwise grunts only.

    Heyya go(t) any [enna]? - Yis, we 'ev
    (or, for emphasis)  Yis, tha(t) we hev!
The  modus operandi  seems to be -
"shove everything agatha, and let the
context take the interpretive strain !"

8 : Raising The Ire

We highlight a special case, where  have  lies
"too near the front" for contextual comfort,
as in  "I have done it"
In practice, this short sentence starts with
I-a,   which comes across phonetically as  Ire.

Given that  Oi   is a bit nearer than "I",
the effect is very similar to  Our  -
a potential cause of confusion.
A difficult question might be met with :
Our go-o-o(t) noo oidare!   ( = I, not we).

Similarly,  he has  =  he have  =  Here, 
phonetically; similarly, also  Sheer.

So the examples in 7. are better written as :
E tal me there  [they have]  'ad a brairk-in . . . .
Ear
  [He has ]  'ad a operairtion.
(not necessarily on his ear !)
Also e.g. : Where go-o-o(t)  some atoom 
(We have some at home).

Yure  (for You-a) is virtually a  mono-syllabic
word, indistinguishable from  you're  (you are).
It is  not  yewer,  nor  yore  (your).
[1]  Are yure gorn' ?
[2]  Yure go-o-o(t) one, incha??

A bus-driver told a travelling colleague that -
Our jist 'ad a couple-a weeks orff.
Aya?!,  replied the colleague, by way of
envious acknowledgement.

In Coronation Street  happen  means  perhaps.
In Norfolk, it has the more usual meaning;
but still in relation to a chance occurrence -
like meeting somebody in the street.

To come upon somebody (by chance) is to
happen-on  them, the past tense normally
being used : Oi hapt-on 'em.
Alternatively rendered as :
(h)appened acrorst 'em.

9 : Painting Pictures

If you can't count, and can't even read
(the case for most Norfolk inhabitants until
"modern times"), you may get some information -
as well as enjoyment - from pictures.

Illustrations in books were known as  gays :
a term completely overtaken by the technology
of publishing, and other (social) factors.

If a  gay  consists of a mixture of colours,
badly faded or in uncommon pale shades -
so as to be beyond  simple  description -
it is  dumduckerdumer.

More perplexingly, a picture can
also be known as a  cut.
It is a little doubtful if this would have been
accomplished just with a  cedar  (pencil) !.

A mental picture, of some colourful nature,
is painted by the word  arsle,  which means
to move or wriggle  backwards.

A less appealing picture is given by the word
clag : which means to clean or comb-out matted
hair  (claggy   meaning  sticky  or  lumpy).

Very enticing, on the other hand, is a  hotpot
(pronounced without any t's, of course); either
as the stew we all know and love, or as the
Norfolk variety : warmed ale with spirits
(commonly "old ale" and gin).


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