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Norfolk Talk

Chapter I : At A Stretch

(Paras. 1 to 10)

2. Niceties :  3. Child Cares :  4. Behaviour
5. Terror
  7. What's Cooking? :  8. In The Swim
9. Keeping Up Appearances :  10. Down At Heel

1 : More Squit

The cherished word  squit  also describes a
complicated and/or long-running public dispute
(e.g. in Parliament or the columns of the local Press):-
    There-a bin a lo(t)-a squi(t) in the
    pairpers abou(t) . . . .
This is a bit hard on the proponents of the
correct  side of the argument : the rest may be
talking nonsense, but surely not everyone?!

Various  matters  may be discussed, but in
Norfolk the plural is - remarkably - used to
denote indifference to a particular thing :-
Tha(t) dorn(t) ma(tt)ers to me, any 'ow.

An argument on a smaller scale, between
"friends" and neighbours (a flare-up) is
described as a  barney.

    Ar(t)er the barney, tha(t) wooz
    a soigh(t) quie(t)er!.
The word  sight  is shorthand for a  whool lo(t) -
a broad, encompassing scope of vision; in this
case sound, rather than vision, is the medium!.
An alternative - for an argument or dispute
(cf.  wrangle)  is  brangle.

Inversion of meaning has been seen in the
case of  deen  (near-silence) - an extreme
example of Norfolk understatement.
Another example is  'here and there',  which
normally means (e.g. showers) dotted about
randomly, all over the place.

But a Norfolk housewife, expecting  company
(guests) will assuredly -

    Gi(t) the plairce lookin' a bi(t)
    (h)air an there afore they come.
Skipper  points out that the word  tidy  has a
wider meaning (satisfactory, reasonable),
esp. if linked with  good : to give
good tidy / tidy good.

This is a use similar to  'tidy sum'  for an
adequate amount, or a  'tidy distance' (lengthy!).

2 : Niceties

Nice  retains its  original  meaning* :
re minute or close detail. Other words
can have their meanings severely mauled.

For example,  matriculate  (to achieve high
status);  assuming  this to be the basis of the
Norfolk word 'tricolate' = tricalair(t),  which
means to smarten-up and enhance the
appearance of  (decorate?).

[ Another possibility is "putting out the flags"
  - tricolour  ones ].

There is nothing unusual in a Norfolk  push
being a  shove,  and so forth  (see  H.7) :
except that  push  is  also  used
to describe a "boil" or very large
pimple - from the Dutch  puist.
(Not to be confused with  bunny - see 3. below).
By comparison an  abcess  is an  abser.

The process of boil development is known as
The throbbing of a  push  may be described as
tha(t) galver, bulk or gruckle.
The similarity between 'galver' and 'gather'
may be significant.

A boil or abcess giving a discharge is said to be
suein(g)  (issueing). See  Story N.2

A particularly large  push  (or  anything  else)
is described as a  soler -

    You ough(t)a see this 'air fish woo(t)
    Our caugh(t) - thass a sooler!

      ( Is the "sole" fish really the origin?
      They're quite big ).
Still on medical matters,  bronchial  is always
mispronounced as  bronickle  (in other
parts of the country too, I suspect).

A sick person's drawn appearance may be
(oddly) described as being  lan(t)ern-jawed.
Hopefully he will not get  the pumony!   (pneumonia).

On a smaller scale, a pimple is a  te(tt)er   or
twiddle  or  widdle. See  Section 6   below.

[ *as well as its new one, of course ]

3 : Child Cares

Midwives are called  midnight women  and their
practice is  gorn-a nijjer(t)in(g).  A woman is
bestowed,  when she is put to bed for childbirth.

Minor mishaps and medical conditions dominate
the lives of small children  (the to(tt)y   ones).
Much of the distinctive vocabulary actually
applies to child-rearing - a period when future
citizens are absorbing nearly all of it anyway.
A fortiori,  as the Romans had it.

Tinies often have a  bunny* which is simply a
bump/bruise caused by a fall; although I am
told that 'bunnies' are confined to the head.

[Tinies are unlikely to get an  abser;
  probably  not a  push   until puberty? ]

Little fingers incur many wooden splinters :
in Norfolk  shivers  (as in Me Timbers).
A finger may also get a  pritch (prick)  or cut
which requires a  hudkin  (fingerstall) for
protection, lest it should become inflamed -
which we call  fierce  or  angry.
See H.6 for the more usual  angry  meaning.

    Be you careful-a your dannies   (hands)
    do they'll gi' you gip  (jip)!.
Mild fever (any age), or just the cold weather,
will lead to  dudderin'  [ shuddering ] : the
Norfolk equivalent of  shivering.
Being a little out-of-sorts (teething etc.) causes
an infant to be  titchy  (bad-tempered) or 
grizzly  (whining) or  winnickin'  (whimpering)
or  pensy (fretful).

Letting a toddler crawl around nappy-less is
good for his skin-rash, but may result in a
swidge   on the floor.

Even bubbling good health can be a pain to
parents & teachers - e.g. the  jifflin' about.

    E jiffle a lo(t) 'n 'oon(t) keep still.
    To  fidget  is also to  fligger  or  pample.
Children who  pingle  or  mank  with their food
(eat very little and mess around) cause much
frustration too.Those who talk/moan
too much during the process are advised :
Av'ry toime yuh yow yuh lose a chow.
(i.e. the word  chew  rhymes with  how).

[ *Baby-talk for a bunion? If so, babies were
    spoken to thus in Sir Thomas More's time! ]

4 : Behaviour

We now know (C.11) that naughty children can
cop  it, by way of a  clip, ding   or  thack;  the
latter being a smack, such as in hammering
down the bundles of reeds in thatching.

They may even be described as warmin(t)s
(vermin) or  minifers  (small hairy rodent pests)
if they  worri(t)  (annoy or worry - as in dogs
and sheep) their long-suffering parent(s).

On the other hand, being suspiciously good
can lead to an accusation of  carneying
(currying favour), perhaps aimed at getting  cushies  (sweets).

If a carney doesn't work, a display of temper?

    Thass noo good-a you a-pu(tt)in' on
    your par(t)s - you 'oon(t) git-a!
Babies are easier to handle in a pram - Norfolk
has a  coach,  pronounced  cooch [ as per A.4  ].

Younger kids love to spin on the spot
i.e.  twizzle  (harmless enough).
Too much high-spirits, involving madly racing
around, is described as  shanny  behaviour.

This term applies just as well to an adolescent
on a bicycle or motor-bike, who is speeding, or
lacking in 'due care and attention'.
Now - dorn(t) you goo shanny!!  or
Now - goo you stedda, booy!!

Stingy  (pronounced  stinjy ) means  mean(!),
and may also mean miserly  or  physically
spiteful -

    Tha(t) there stingy boy, E 'it me E did!!
    (see what I  mean?)
When the word  did  crops up, you can bet
the situation is  whoolly sarious!

He may have deliberately trodden on a toe
or two :  E jammed on moi tooe!

Anything forcefully squeezed, even accidentally,
takes the word used for the comestible product
derived from crushed fruit. See Story N.3

5 : Terror

Adults most fear high-spirited children
when they are in large groups :
    There wooz a scalder on 'em,
    kickin' up Hal's Deloigh(t).
Scalder  has the same sound as  scald,
but there is no connection. This word can also
describe a gaggle of birds and other animals.
[ Skipper  gives  chalder  too ]

MOB in Norfolk is a verb; deriving from
the way flocks of smaller birds will  mob  a
larger creature (or fans and pop stars etc.)
Back, then, to the individual child -

    My Mum she din(t) 'alf mob me
    abou(t) moi da(tt)y cloo(th)es!
Complaining to oneself (or just to thin air)
is the same : E (w)hoolly mobbed about-a.
To mutter, in complaint, is to  pu(tt)er.

Adult  barneys  (Para. 1) might 'come to blows'.
Such a blow might be classed as a  custard
(rather more than a  clip,  perhaps less than a  sidewinder).

Muir-hearted   persons don't normally get into
such scrapes. Muir  is Scottish for big,
not  necessarily  implying generosity.
Neither are they bound to be cowards; it is just
a matter of being sensitive and easily upset -
whilst being kind and considerate to others.

Muddle, confusion and stress are all words
to explain the state of being in a  puckaterry
(see  Skipper).
I am happy with the idea that  purgatory  is
the root, but have never heard the expression
used in the City area.

Confusion is also  harriage,  although
"gone to harriage"  means gone to rack and ruin.
Skipper suggests  harry,  as in harrassment or
attack, as the root; but nothing to do with
going to the Port of Harwich.


6 : Cure The Sickening

Adults can get ill, or merely "browned-off"
without the help of  them blasted kids.

Put  betsy  on (kettle) to make a  cup-a drink
alleviates minor discomforts. [ Cup of drink is
typical Norfolk fussiness : from when cups of
sugar, flour etc. were also in common use ]

These days the water comes out of a tap,
not a  wal,  a  beck  (stream) or  cockey
(ditto, or drain).

Hopefully the kettle will not  run   (leak)
i.e. except out of the hole where it should!.
If it, or the teapot, has to be emptied then
it is  whelmed   (as in  overwhelmed).

Fits of the "blues" (not Ipswich Town) can often
be lifted by having a cheery  mardle  with
neighbours or shoppers (apparently since
Beowulf's time!).
Other words for gossiping include
gaddy-wentin'  and  howin' an' mowin'
[ pronounced more like  harn an' marn ].
Lengthy storytelling and reminiscing
is  yarmanderin' .

Perhaps it is just a rumour or tall-story
= roment - note the final  t ) is also used
as a verb, for spreading falsehoods.

The routine solicitous enquiry :
Owya gi(tt)in' on?  (See Not Too Good)
may provoke yet another understatement :
Noon too sharp  or, more plainly,
Oi'm a bi(t) sadly .
The latter (not  poorly - and used as an
adjective!!) is for general non-specific malaise.

To do  badly  means to be in ill-health; as, to a
lesser extent, does doing  moderate  (not -ly).

Mazy  is another word for  sickly,
possibly applied to people as well as crops.

The vivid descriptive term  screws   (for
certain sharp pains e.g. rheumatics) is usually
backed-up by detailed commentary, involving -

    Tha(t) dorn(t) 'alf gi' me gip [ jip ], bor!.
The  bor  in question may offer, by way of
sympathy :- Thass all a job  [ count 3 ]  inta? -
which is a stock (and non-commital) response
to  any  problem, medical or otherwise.

In principle, we have :  job  = task
= difficulty = unpleasantness = most things.
See  Tidying-Up  for the other meaning of  job.

If nasty medicine (still sometimes called
physic )  is needed, so may be the instruction -

    Gi(t) you tha(t) down yar strupe
    - do you 'oont gi(t) noo ba(tt)er . . .
Severe pain, such as toothache, is  clorth
(not used in Norwich). The word  cloth
is, of course, pronounced identically (!).
Misery  means pain too, see  Story N.2

To  chip-up  is to improve in health,
or general fortunes.

7 : What's Cooking?

Few new names for meat, I'm afraid -
they all come from France, anyway.
Well, perhaps my Gran's favourite -
chi(tt)erlin(g)s - (pigs' entrails, fried).
Also Norfolk has a word for  gristle - paxwax.
Rancid food (dairy products etc.) is  reasty,
so one had better  spawle   it (spit-out)!

Norfolk  weg'tables   are another matter :
not their names, but their quality.
The proverbial "housewife" would always avoid
buying or cooking items which seemed  foisty,
i.e. stale to the point of being actually mildewed
or rotten. (From  ficety = fusty).

She would also watch for old produce, rather
stale and shrivelled i.e.  foosey [  foozey ].

In the case of leaved objects (lettuces, cabbages
etc.), being past-their-best is described as  clung
(leaves clinging close together).
Crisp and fresh veg. is described as  spolt
(not spoilt !).

Similarly, ancient fruit might appear  dwinged   (shrivelled).
County folk described crunchy (under-cooked?)
vegetables as  churkey.

The past-tense has crept-in again . . . .
I fear my mother's generation may be the last
to use the old terminology, particularly in
view of supermarket quality-controls and
storage methods.

Cooking (e.g. for children) can involve pandering
to particular tastes and fussy preferences :
known as being  finnicky  (in Norwich, anyway), and  fin(t)ums   in the County.

Possibly something  clar(t)y  would appeal
i.e. daubed with syrup or juice!

A poor appetite is (reasonably?) considered an
insult to the cook -
Yure 'ooly e(t) a (h)en's nooseful!
N. B.  eaten = ett,  so has only one syllable
         and ONE (soft) letter.

A small quantity,  a  dollop,  enough for one
tongue-stroke, is a  lickup;  small scraps of food
being  cha(t)es.

To slice or cut into small pieces (each one
chife)  is to  chimble;  presumably not just
in relation to food.

8 : In The Swim

Dumplings  (swimmers  or  floa(t)ers) are much
less boiled in Norfolk these days : they were a
sure sign of poverty, especially in the 19th C.
Those were days when my grandma survived
on  bread and pull-it [1] or  water-gruel
(mostly water!).
[1] I think a pun on  poulet - of which there was,
     of course, none!.

Dumpling  remains, however, the honorary title
for a Norfolk Person. I am fairly confident that
Swede  is the counterpart in Suffolk.

If you were famished  (clammed)  you would be
glad of dumplings, or  plump  (bread soaked in
hot water, with butter, sugar or dripping added).
Dripping or lard is  seam,  which could also
be spread on bread in the normal way.

A snack or morsel of food, just to
keep the hunger at bay, is a  sunke(t).
The yolk of an egg is a  yelk   in Norfolk
(N.B. the letter  l  is preserved).

The term  chops  does not always apply to meat,
and may mean a  person's  cheeks. In Norfolk
these are called  chaps.
Oi'll slap you accrorst the chaps,
do you dorn(t) . . .

Whimsical footnote: a turnip  (tannup)  became
the term for an ostentatious pocket-watch.

9 : Keeping Up Appearances

Whether through hunger, or just bad manners,
food and drink might be consumed very greedily.
There are several words dedicated to this
(hence, common?) habit.

Making a grab for the food, too quickly,
with the  plawks  (hands, "mitts") may invite :
Gi(t) you them plawks orff on-a !
[ Note how  off  &  on  are side-by-side
in that command ]

    Food : Monge  (from the French);
               Yarm  = Bolt (in general use?);
               Wire-in  (ravenously).

    Drink : BezzleStewpe
               (? stoup,  a drinking vessel)

    Either : Gulping is rendered as  golpin'  or,
                more likely,  gollerpin'  (cf. galloping )

dumpling-hunter  refers to an olden-times
hungry peripatetic clergyman.

With a  wesku(t)  and a  tannup,
a blook  might look very fine.
If the clothes were his "Sunday Best", they
would be his  goo-(t)er-mee(t)in'  clothes or,
more simply, his  becomes.

If he indeed became proud and "stuck-up"
as a result, he would be called  coddy.

A loose-fitting jacket, with large pockets
(more utilitarian) is a  sloppin'  jacket.
This is not quite the same  slop   as in  apron;
or the coarse drill material, of that same name
[ and purpose ].

It is not necessarily a female who would
"put on airs", but - if so - she would  frame.
Or she would be  primmicky
(fanciful or over-fussy).
She would, however, expect her clothes to be
well-fitting, which is  matchly  (i.e. anything
corresponding properly to its target entity :
a (reverse) case of adverb equals adjective?).

Garments might be irrelevant to a girl
looking  kyish  (smug or shy . . . but which?).

My grandfather was accustomed to wearing a
detachable (starched) shirt-front, commonly
known as a "dickey"; but in Norfolk (a dickey
being a  donkey) called a  chea(t). (Quite).

In his day, it was common to see a woman
wearing a veil or  fall   (not just at a funeral);
and a man wearing a neckerchief, or  neck'un 
for short.

chummy  is a soft felt hat with a narrow brim.

10 : Down At Heel

In warm weather, it can be permissible to
remove a jacket. "He  shod  his jacket"
reports this in the past tense (= shed ).
Clearly this is  not  the reason why a
garden-shed becomes a  shud.

Again, it would probably be a lady who would be
concerned with creases in a garment. To crease,
in Norfolk, is to  ruck;  but  creased  becomes
rucked-up  (a ratchet or rack effect).

To rumple becomes, in the dialect, to  frumple.
(Definition of a  frump?)

A rough or untidy appearance might
simply be  rude.
(Because  rudeness  i.e. cheek or insolence
is  chelp   and cheeky is  silly-bold).
A dirty and/or unhappy appearance
is said to be  gallus-droply.

Worse still, untidy and slovenly is
shucky   or  shuckety.
This may be because the clothes are  ren(t)
(torn) or  frazzled  (frayed or worn).
Perhaps the garments are quite worn-out
or decayed : that is  begone   (not dull care!).

To  frazzle   is to unravel (as in wool).

Similar to (but not the same as) our choice
slummockin' mawther,  a slovenly girl
is a  shammock.
[ not to be confused with  Shannock ].

Anyone with a noticeably protruding belly
has a  pod.

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