1 : Fluctuations
Our present purpose cannot stretch to giving a
full chronological account of Norfolk invasions.
See Potted History for a bit more . . .
After the Romans came Saxons (? plus Jutes),
Vikings i.e. Danes, the sequels (SaxonsII and
VikingsII), then Normans - in roughly that order.
Most of these hoards found it easier to tackle
the Norfolk or Suffolk coastline (except the
Croomer Ridge) than the Dover Cliffs, or
even the Thames Estuary - and (for most)
nearer home too!
More friendly influxes of (genuine) foreigners
have been equally influential, over more
Often mentioned are the Huguenot Protestant
refugees. There were also invited settlers from
the Low Countries ( Walloons? ) i.e. weavers; whom Norwich people called "Strangers"
( Strairngers ), as it was easier than trying to
remember whether they were Dutch or French
There was once a large
Jewish quarter in Norwich.
As with most refugees etc., the drift was
always to the urban areas (e.g. Van Couver
in King's Lynn).
2 : Over Here
The same was not true of the last great
invasion, sorry, two invasions - if you
include POWs working on the land -
namely the USAF.
They were frequently in Norwich, for
"relaxation", but were, of course, stationed
at airfields all over the Region.
Over-paid, Over-sexed, and over Here.
So ran the less-than-enthusiastic litany
of their alleged faults.
We had to take our share of evacuees, during
that War, although not in Norwich - which was
Placed rurally, they were known as vacajees.
Other "internal" migrations, already mentioned,
include academics (to UEA) and pensioners.
If anything rankles about most of those
groups it is the over-payment : Norfolk
being chronically a low-wage area.
Except, that is, for the "bosses" -
hence the 20th Century expression :
Did you ever see a farmer on a bike?.
3 : Repercussions
There has been plenty of time for
things to shake down since William I.
The military threat from the Continent
remained, however, up until Hitler's time.
This may well account for seafaring warriors
like Nelson, aside from
the general run of fishermen.
Certainly there has always been a deep-seated
mistrust of foreigners (and, as we now know,
this includes the vast majority of Britons :
i.e. to the N. S. and W. !). I don't believe
it amounts to hostility - just wariness.
Outright hostility would never have permitted
the refugees (as distinct from invaders) to
settle, thrive and integrate.
Luckily for them there had been earlier
invasions and attacks; so they profited from
We may tenuously conclude that Norfolk people
are still fairly tolerant, if not greatly welcoming
or effusively hospitable. Not too bad, then? . . .
but there is another side to the coin.
We have used the term 'integrate', but without
specifying [ not really knowing ] how long
the process took.
4 : Citizenship
Yorkshire could be a million miles away. That
they probably think the same about Norfolk,
creates a surreal bond, and a set of similarities.
Yorkshire was one of the very last * cricketing
counties to waive the place-of-birth rule for
new players. There is no such complete bar on
on incomers to Norfolk; and we will accord
full Civil Rights. As to when . . . .
Wal, thass suffin als [ else ] -
A good rule-of-thumb is 20 to 25 years of
tha(t) all depend . . .
continuous residence. Even that lengthy period
only gains Associate status. Holiday-homes,
as in Wales, are highly problematical.
Few who arrive fully-grown adults survive
long enough (given our harsh winters) to
become fully accepted as Dumplings
(or Norrigers ).
This is all beside the point for the large and
growing numbers of [ younger ] people,
who were actually born in the County, but
are not descended from Norfolk "stock".
Their "first language" (i.e. as spoken at home)
is different, perhaps markedly.
Yet it is quite amazing how readily children will
pick-up a "new" language at school : in an effort
to please everyone, they will usually become
bi-lingual, and be able to switch on and off,
as the environment demands . . .
[ * perhaps the last; perhaps they haven't
done it yet. Don't ask me about cricket!. ]
5 : A Friend Indeed
One final twist to the foreign tale (?tail) :
Be assured that it does not take a quarter of
a century to be accepted as a fit and proper
person (a bor) even a staunch, bosom friend.
It is not a Life Sentence of rejection/exclusion
(which would indeed amount to hostility) :
the exclusion is merely technical and a
matter of holding (or not) a Norfolk Passport.
Story L provides the relevant "test".
There is, however, a stricter short-term rule :
it consists of a one-year probationary period.
Its more colourful definition is to -
summer an(d) win(t)er [ a person ].
Nobody is to be taken at face value;
first impressions are just that. Appearances,
accents, wealth all count for nothing.
Legitimate claims re education, business
or other achievements will be met with a
routine, totally insincere :-
Yis, noo dou(bt) you hev
Our concluding Story X will provide a good
or Oi reckon tha(t) do
(or some such, in very flat & muted tones).
illustration; there could be many, many others.
There is no requirement to start speaking like
a native; conversely, it is no sin to retain your
original Liverpudlian or Glaswegian accent.
(Many people would take more than 25 years,
even when trying hard - to nullify same).
Of course, if you are hard to understand . . .
Of course, if your accent gives the game away . . .
6 : Metropolis
Fine City membership has properly been
regarded (if only by members) as a privilege
enjoyed in addition to being a resident of
God's Own County.
As such, it is reckoned to provide wider horizons -
paradoxically within narrower physical confines.
Our present concern is not with the architecture,
high-quality shopping, or InterCity rail service to
the Great Metropolis; but the lingo.
The City enjoys much inflow of tourists (many of
them from Japan, USA etc.); as well as numerous
workers/students imported from all over Britain.
. . . a lo(t) onnem come fr'm away, dorn the?.
The net result is that it gets harder and harder
to hear Norwich accents inside the Walls, any
day of the week. Then, just as you think you
have, a further hearing may confirm -
There [They have] come in fr'm theHardly . . . Market Days used to be Saturday &
coun(t)ry : tha(t) mus(t) be Maarke(t) Day!
Wednesday; now any day except Sunday??
(and that's going the same way!).
The genuine Norwich accent is indeed difficult
to track-down. The best bet is a LOCAL bus :-
Si(t) you down, moi dare -
tha(t) 'oon(t) be long afore we gi(t) there!
7 : ASSWAHREESAY
This, like Strine, is an invented "language" :
actually just an embryonic list, created by a
Norwich schoolmaster who was appalled by
what he heard from his pupils.
We claim to have made every effort, throughout,
to give a Norwich "slant" or variation wherever
it has been valid and appropriate.
Resting on these laurels, the following list
is presented; with translation only.
Asswahreesay : That is what he says
Wossuponya? : What is the matter with you?
Wossairdurn? : What is he doing?
In'agora'dur(t) : [ I'm ] not going to do it
Corrumahr! : Goodness, I'm hot!
Ayyadunna? : Have you done it?
Inchagar(t)? : Haven't you got it?
Eewahravalillarna : He wants to have a
little of it [on it]
Gurza! : Give it to me!
Owdsi'eegirron? : How did the City get on?
Woyyawahn? : What do you want?
Recanting swiftly on my not commenting,
I must draw attention to a few points:-
(a) No leading H's or T's whatever;
Also please see YARN R
(b) What and What's : now (sometimes)
contain a single rather than a double-o;
(c) All the above have been personally
checked and verified;
(d) The longest example is also probably
the 24-carat best!;
(e) The third example has lost its final '- on',
but retains the a-doin(g).
A recent amusing website -
has added further urban examples, including :
Cabbit? : Can I have a piece of that, please?
Assajook : I'm just kidding
Butharnhum : Both of them
Jargon : Running slowly
Do come in, it's beginning to rain
8 : Silly Suffolk
We must try to make amends on this one!.
Consensus is that the pejorative description is a
corruption of seely : an Old English term for holy
(Mardle) or steadfast and reliable (in the faith?).
There is also no dispute that the Suffolk version
of the E. Anglian dialect, with so very much in
common with its northern neighbours, is more
"sing-song"; and has often been compared with Welsh.
A fair modicum of this variation of pitch exists,
however, in Norfolk speech too.
Like everything else -
tha(t) depend where you goo, or rather
how far; because towns like Diss and Thetford
get more "musical", being on the
southern flank of the County.
On the western edges, the vowel sounds begin
to merge into the Fenmens' distinct dialect.
Mardle says true Norfolk inhabitants accuse
those in the Fens of having webbed feet; and
call them "yellow-bellies" (i.e. frogs)
N.B. this must be pronounced yaller ballies.
9 : Elsewhere
See the Section on The Region, which
concludes that only Suffolk fully qualifies to
join God's Own County. All the evidence,
incl. vocabulary ( e.g. muckwash, in J.3 )
Parts of Essex & The Fens are
"associate members", as it were . . .
but anything else is dismissed under
the general term of The Sheers (Shires).
Conversely, before rural transport progressed
(just?) beyond the horse-and-cart, marked
variations in the dialect could readily occur
within the County; particularly as
Norfolk covers such a very wide area.
It is easier these days (if not really better)
to claim an homogenous Norfolk tongue.
Even so, fundamental differences remain
(Breckland is an exception, taken
between lifestyles and occupations in the
County (aside from the City), deriving from
the Holy Trinity of sub-regions :-
grim advantage of - by the MoD -
in the Stamford Battle Area).
The three types of habitat have clearly (and of
necessity) produced, quite apart from variations
based on distance and remoteness, specific
vocabularies of their own.
These are dealt-with separately; particularly
because the nature of agriculture has changed
so much - since the advent of the tractor - that
much of its vocabulary is (at best) obsolescent.
Of course, there is also little reference
to sail outside of the Broads.
10 : Gone Where?
We can't leave "Elsewhere" without, for the
first time, mentioning emigration from Norfolk.
This is where 'elsewhere' = USA or Canada.
The emigres were part of the Pilgrim Fathers
and other groups. E.g. VanCouver of King's Lynn
and the (almost) appropriately named
Such population movements (and the era in
which they occurred) do much to explain the
many "unexpected" parallels with
current American speech.