Norfolk dialect
The Norfolk dialect, also known as Broad Norfolk, is a dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

 that was once, and to a great extent, still is spoken by those living in the county
A county is a jurisdiction of local government in certain modern nations. Historically in mainland Europe, the original French term, comté, and its equivalents in other languages denoted a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of a count A county is a jurisdiction of local government in certain...

 of Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

 in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. It employs distinctively unique pronunciations, especially of vowels; and consistent grammatical forms that differ markedly from standard English.


Portrayal of the Norfolk dialect and accent in films and TV is often regarded as poor (it is notoriously difficult for 'foreigners' to imitate) and the treatment of it in the television drama All the King's Men in 1999, in part prompted the foundation of the Friends of Norfolk Dialect (FOND), a group formed with the aim of preserving and promoting Broad Norfolk. The group campaigns for the recognition of Norfolk as a dialect, and for the teaching of "Norfolk" in schools. FOND aims to produce a digital archive of recordings of people speaking the dialect's traditional words. In July 2001 the group was awarded £4000 from the National Lottery
National Lottery (United Kingdom)
The National Lottery is the state-franchised national lottery in the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man.It is operated by Camelot Group, to whom the licence was granted in 1994, 2001 and again in 2007. The lottery is regulated by the National Lottery Commission, and was established by the then...

 in aid of recording equipment for this purpose.

Arnold Wesker
Arnold Wesker
Sir Arnold Wesker is a prolific British dramatist known for his contributions to kitchen sink drama. He is the author of 42 plays, 4 volumes of short stories, 2 volumes of essays, a book on journalism, a children's book, extensive journalism, poetry and other assorted writings...

's 1959 play Roots
Roots (play)
Roots is the second play by Arnold Wesker in The Wesker Trilogy. The first part is Chicken Soup with Barley and the final play I'm Talking about Jerusalem. Roots focuses on Beatie Bryant as she makes the transition from being an uneducated working-class woman obsessed with Ronnie, her unseen...

 made good use of authentic Norfolk dialect.

During the 1960s, Anglia Television
Anglia Television
Anglia Television is the ITV franchise holder for the East Anglia franchise region. Although Anglia Television takes its name from East Anglia, its transmission coverage extends beyond the generally accepted boundaries of that region. The station is based at Anglia House in Norwich, with regional...

 produced a soap opera called "Weavers Green
Weavers Green
Weavers Green was a British television soap opera, made in 1966 for ITV by Anglia Television. It was notable for being one of the first television programmes to be shot on location using videotape and outside broadcast equipment, rather than film, as had usually been the case for non-studio...

" which used local characters making extensive use of Norfolk dialect. The programme was filmed at the "cul-de-sac" village of Heydon
Heydon, Norfolk
Heydon, Norfolk, is an English village in the county of Norfolk and district of Broadland.Heydon is about five miles north of Reepham, and has no through road, making it isolated except from the south...

 north of Reepham in mid Norfolk.

An example of the Norfolk accent and vocabulary can be heard in the songs by Allan Smethurst
Allan Smethurst
Allan Francis Smethurst , aka The Singing Postman was an English postman and singer.Born in Walshaw, Lancashire, the son of Allan and Gladys Mabel , Smethurst was raised in Sheringham, Norfolk. His mother came from the nearby village of Stiffkey...

, aka The Singing Postman. Smethurst's undisputed Norfolk accent is well known from his releases of the 1960s, such as "Hev Yew Gotta Loight Bor?". The Boy John Letters of Sidney Grapes
Sidney Grapes
Sidney Grapes was a British comedian, the owner of a bicycle shop and later a garage in Potter Heigham, a village in northeast Norfolk.In the years before the Second World War, he acquired a reputation as an amateur Norfolk dialect comedian, performing at social functions in many parts of the...

, which were originally published in the Eastern Daily Press
Eastern Daily Press
The Eastern Daily Press, commonly referred to as the EDP, is a regional newspaper covering Norfolk, and northern parts of Suffolk and eastern Cambridgeshire, and is published daily in Norwich, UK....

, are another valid example of the Norfolk dialect. Beyond simply portrayers of speech and idiom however, Smethurst, and more especially Grapes, record their authentic understanding of mid-twentieth-century Norfolk village life. Grapes' characters, the Boy John, Aunt Agatha, Granfar, and Ole Missus W, perform a literary operetta celebrating down-to-earth ordinariness over bourgeois affectation and pretence; their values and enduring habits instantly familiar to Norfolk people.

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 undoubtedly had some grasp of the Norfolk accent which he utilised in the speech of the Yarmouth fishermen, Ham and Daniel Peggoty in David Copperfield
David Copperfield (novel)
The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery , commonly referred to as David Copperfield, is the eighth novel by Charles Dickens, first published as a novel in 1850. Like most of his works, it originally appeared in serial...

. An extensive treatment of 'Dickens as Sociolinguist', in the course of which she analyses the speech of these Norfolk characters was made by Patricia Poussa in Writing in Non-Standard English In the same article Poussa makes connections between the particular variant of Norfolk dialect spoken in the Flegg area around Great Yarmouth
Great Yarmouth
Great Yarmouth, often known to locals as Yarmouth, is a coastal town in Norfolk, England. It is at the mouth of the River Yare, east of Norwich.It has been a seaside resort since 1760, and is the gateway from the Norfolk Broads to the sea...

, a place of known Viking settlement, with Scandinavian languages. Significantly the use of 'that' meaning 'it', dealt with under grammar below, is used as an example of this apparent connection.

The publication in 2006 by Ethel George (with Carole and Michael Blackwell) of The Seventeenth Child provides a written record of spoken dialect, though in this case of a person brought up inside the city of Norwich. Ethel George was born in 1914, and in 2006 provided the Blackwells with extensive tape-recorded recollections of her childhood as the seventeenth offspring of a relatively poor Norwich family. Carole Blackwell has reproduced a highly literal written rendering of this, such that anyone familiar with the dialect can recognise an authentic Norfolk/ Norwich voice speaking to them from the page.

An erudite and comprehensive study of the dialect, by Norfolk speaker and Professor of Sociolinguistics, Peter Trudgill can be found in the latter's book 'The Norfolk Dialect' (2003), published as part of the 'Norfolk Origins' series by Poppyland Publishing, Cromer.


The Norfolk dialect is a subset of the Southern English dialect group. Geographically it covers most of the County of Norfolk extending to the south into the northern parts of the county of Suffolk
Suffolk is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in East Anglia, England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east...

 in particular the town of Lowestoft
Lowestoft is a town in the English county of Suffolk. The town is on the North Sea coast and is the most easterly point of the United Kingdom. It is north-east of London, north-east of Ipswich and south-east of Norwich...

 and its surrounding area. The accent of Norwich is (not surprisingly) similar but the vowels tend to be different.

The Norfolk dialect should not be confused with Pitcairn-Norfolk, a second language of the Pitcairn Islands
Pitcairn Islands
The Pitcairn Islands , officially named the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, form a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. The islands are a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union in the Pacific...

, or with Norfuk
Norfuk language
Norfuk is the language spoken on Norfolk Island by the local residents. It is a blend of English of the 18th century and Tahitian originally introduced by settlers from the Pitcairn Islands who spoke Pitkern. It is the co-official language of Norfolk Island.As travel to and from Norfolk Island...

, the language used on Norfolk Island
Norfolk Island
Norfolk Island is a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. The island is part of the Commonwealth of Australia, but it enjoys a large degree of self-governance...



  • A slower, drawling manner of speech in rural areas of Norfolk with a broader, thicker tone and a quicker manner of speaking in Norwich with a higher, thinner tone.
  • Broad Norfolk has a 'lilt' to its speech where intonation fluctuations occur especially when asking questions where the voice raises or drops in pitch so that for example the intonation might drop when asking "how do you go?" and raise when asking "do you know that?"
  • Lengthening of vowel sounds
  • Merging of syllables in words. For example the syllables in doing (do-ing) merge to become like "durn", going (go-ing) becomes like "gorn", holiday (ho-li-day) becomes like "hol-day".
  • Smoothing of sentences for example "betta-r-an-what-a-was" is better than what I was, however this could be more from a result of assimilation
    Assimilation (linguistics)
    Assimilation is a common phonological process by which the sound of the ending of one word blends into the sound of the beginning of the following word. This occurs when the parts of the mouth and vocal cords start to form the beginning sounds of the next word before the last sound has been...

     and coalescence
    Coalescence may refer to:* Coalescence , the merging of genetic lineages backwards time to a most recent common ancestor* Coalescence , the merging of two or more phonological segments into one...

    , connected speech processes, rather than being a specific dialectal feature.

  • The foot–strut split is maintained but not as pronounced as it would be in Southern English. This means that the "u" in "strut" often sounds halfway between Southern English and Northern English pronunciation, some occasions sounding closer to Northern English and some occasions sounding closer to Southern English. It could be considered a silent "u" or imagining there's no "u" in a word. The best way to possibly describe this is "cup" written like "c'p", "one" written like "w'n" but on the whole this is difficult to write.
  • The diphthong of [aɪ] in words such as right, buy, pie and sky sound more like [ʊi], giving "ruyght", "buiye", "puy" and "skuy". (This is distinct from West Country English - to which this feature is often compared - which uses the darker sound [oi] to give "roight", "boiy", "poy" and "skoy".)
  • The /oː/ and /oʊ/ distinction is retained so words with the vowels spelt oa, oe and oCe such as toe, boat, road and whole can be represented as [ʊu] giving what to outsiders would seem like "too", "boot", "rood" and "whoole" respectively.
  • Single syllable words with the vowel spelt oC or oCe such as boat or home can be pronounced like the vowel [ʊ] as in the vowel of foot, giving [bʊt] and [hʊm] (to sound like the Northern England and the English Midlands pronunciation of but and hum respectively).
  • Single syllable words with the vowel spelt oo such as roof and hoof have the vowel often pronounced [ʊ] to give [rʊf] and [hʊf] ( to sound like the Northern England and the English Midlands pronunciation of rough and huff respectively).
  • The [eː] and [eɪ] distinction is retained so words with the vowel spelt aCe such as cake, make and face would be represented as "air" giving "cairke", "mairke" and "fairce" but it can be written as "ear" giving "cearke", "mearke" and "fearce" - similar to some Northern England accents, whilst words with the vowel spelt ai, ay, ei and ey such as train, day, rein and they would be pronounced [æɪ] giving "traein", "daei", "raein" and "thaei".
  • The Cheer–chair merger is prevalent so that cheer sounds like chair, beer sounds like bear, here sounds like hair and ear sounds like air.
  • The vowel [ɒ] (as in lot) realised as an unrounded vowel [ɑ], as in many forms of American English
    American English
    American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

  • Yod dropping happens after all consonants so that [juː] becomes [uː] so for example beautiful, due, few, huge, new and tune instead of becoming "byeautiful", "dyue", "fyue", "hyuge", "nyew" and "tyune" become "bootiful", "doo", "foo", "hooge", "noo" and "toon" respectively.
  • A variation on yod dropping also happens when the spelling ur occurs after all consonants so that for example pure sounds like purr and during would be pronounced like "durring" rather than "dyuring".
  • Even in educated speakers who would pronounce the y sound in these words, the syllable is 'urr' or 'ouer' rather than 'aw' as in many other accents of England: 'pyuer' not 'pyaw' and 'tour' is 'touer' not 'taw'.
  • The [ɪŋ] suffix at the end of a doing word is shortened to an [n] sound so becoming and coming would sound like "becom'n" and "com'n" respectively
  • The vowel /ɜː/ is pronounced [a] such as the word bath in Northern and Midland accents, but with the vowel sound lengthened so church, work, heard, her and girl can be written as "chaach", "waak", "haad", "haa" and "gaal", though this pronunciation can also be written like "fust" (for first), "wust" (for worst), "bust" (for burst) and so on.
  • Norfolk has one vowel sound in common with Upper Received Pronunciation
    Received Pronunciation
    Received Pronunciation , also called the Queen's English, Oxford English or BBC English, is the accent of Standard English in England, with a relationship to regional accents similar to the relationship in other European languages between their standard varieties and their regional forms...

    . The rounded vowel [ɒ] when followed by spellings 'f', ff, gh or th such as in often, off, cough, trough and cloth can become [ɔː] as in the vowel of caught and is represented as "orf", giving "orften", "orf", "corf", "trorf" and "clorth" respectively. Ironically, much of the British media associate these pronunciations with the Queen and with old-fashioned BBC presenters.
  • Norfolk is non-rhotic
    Rhotic and non-rhotic accents
    English pronunciation can be divided into two main accent groups: a rhotic speaker pronounces a rhotic consonant in words like hard; a non-rhotic speaker does not...

    , just as Received Pronunciation
    Received Pronunciation
    Received Pronunciation , also called the Queen's English, Oxford English or BBC English, is the accent of Standard English in England, with a relationship to regional accents similar to the relationship in other European languages between their standard varieties and their regional forms...

     is but unlike General American
    General American
    General American , also known as Standard American English , is a major accent of American English. The accent is not restricted to the United States...

    , Scottish English
    Scottish English
    Scottish English refers to the varieties of English spoken in Scotland. It may or may not be considered distinct from the Scots language. It is always considered distinct from Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic language....

     or West Country English.

  • Glottalization of the [t] at the end of words, before consonants and before vowels but usually not when the stress follows the t such as in determine.
  • Closed syllables are preferred - consonants in the middle of words are pronounced as though they were at the end. e.g. 'Waiter' is pronounced as though it were wait-er rather than the RP wai-ter.
  • The final [d] in a word is replaced with a [t] sound so wanted and hundred would be represented as "wantet" and "hundret".
  • The dark el ([ɫ]) is pronounced clearly so the [ɫ] sound in hill and milk sounds the same as clear el ([l]) at the beginning of words such as lap and lack. This is in contrast to L vocalisation.
  • The spelling thr becomes like "tr" so three sounds the same as tree
  • In some places, many words beginning with [v] are pronounced with a [w] so it is "wicar" instead of vicar, "winegar" instead of vinegar, "willage" instead of village and so on.
  • The letter h is normally pronounced in Norfolk dialect, unlike most English dialects, which are h dropping.


  • In the third person present tense, the s at the end of verbs disappears so that 'he goes' becomes 'he go', she likes,she like; she reckons, she reckon etc.Doesn't and wasn't become don't and weren't.
  • The word that usually denotes it when it is the subject of the clause, so that "it is" becomes "that is" and "it smells funny" becomes "that smell funny". This does not imply emphatic usage as it would in Standard English and indeed sentences such as "When that rain, we get wet", are entirely feasible in the dialect. (Incidentally, it is almost never heard as the first word of a sentence in the speech of a true Norfolk dialect speaker, e.g. "It's a nice day today" is virtually always rendered by "Thass a nice day today".) It however, is used for the direct and indirect object, exactly as in Standard English, cf. "When that (subject) rain, I don't like it (object)"/"I don't like it (object), when that (subject) rain".
  • The word one when preceded by a descriptive word such as good or bad can become an "un" so that you have "good'un" and "bad'un". Some local sports papers in the Norfolk region have embraced this part of the dialect with the Pink'Un and the Yellow & Green'Un (a Norwich City FC
    Norwich City F.C.
    Norwich City Football Club is an English professional football club based in Norwich, Norfolk. As of the 2011–12 season, Norwich City are again playing in the Premier League after a six-year absence, having finished as runner up in the Championship in 2010–11 and winning automatic promotion.The...

     supplement that comes with the Eastern Daily Press
    Eastern Daily Press
    The Eastern Daily Press, commonly referred to as the EDP, is a regional newspaper covering Norfolk, and northern parts of Suffolk and eastern Cambridgeshire, and is published daily in Norwich, UK....

    ) being such examples.
  • The word 'do' has a wider range of uses and meanings than it does in standard English. The sentence 'Do he do as he do do, do you let me know', meaning 'If he does as he usually does, then be sure to let me know', is perfectly possible and indeed correct grammar in Norfolk. The first 'do' replaces 'if' as in 'Do that rain, git you under a tree'(If it rains, get under a tree). The second and third instances are examples of the normal third-person Norfolk conjugation of 'does' (see above). The fourth 'do' is exactly the same as it would be in standard English. But the fifth 'do' is an example of the Norfolk use of 'do' in the imperative. Rather than saying simply 'sit down', in Norfolk they might say 'sit you down', but to achieve emphasis 'do you sit down'. Equally 'keep you a dewun' might be rendered 'do you keep a-dewun'. This form is used particularly when urging someone, such as 'Do you hurry up'.
  • The same word 'do' has yet further uses in Norfolk. One of them renders the standard English form 'if that be the case'. The expression 'Do he dint know n'different' means the subject's actions could only be explained by his ignorance (e.g. of the circumstances). A near-translation into standard English would be 'If that was the case he did not know differently'. 'Do' in Norfolk, can also often mean 'otherwise', as in: to someone doing something dangerous 'Be you careful, do you'll have an accident'.
  • The word 'yet', pronounced 'yit'in Norfolk, often has a meaning more like 'nor'. For example if I say to a Norfolk speaker 'I've never known such weather in January', he/she might reply 'Yit hent I!', meaning 'Nor have I'.Or at a greengrocers he/she could say 'There are no cabbages, yit n'carrots', meaning 'There are no cabbages, nor any carrots'.
  • The word 'any' is frequently abbreviated to n'. e.g. To a butcher, 'H'yer got n'sausages?' meaning 'Have you got any sausages?' 'He dornt know n'different', meaning 'He doesn't know differently'.
  • In Norfolk the word 'on'sometimes means 'of' such as 'One on yer'll hetter lead the hoss' meaning 'One of you will have to lead the horse'. In strict Norfolk 'of' is always 'on'. It gets a lot of use in the Norfolk dialect due to the tendency to include of (or in dialect 'on'), as in old English, as part of the verb form. e.g. 'He's a-sortun on em out', meaning he is sorting (of) them out; or 'She's a-mearken on 'em bigger', meaning 'she is making (of) them bigger'.
  • Some verbs conjugate differently in Norfolk. The past tense of 'show', for example is 'shew', and of the verb to snow, 'snew'. The past of drive is 'driv'. e.g. 'I driv all the way to Yarmouth, and on the way back that snew.' 'Sang' is always 'sung' ('She sung out of tune'), and 'stank' is always 'stunk' ('After they had mucked out the pigs their clothes stunk'). Many verbs simply have no past tense, and use the present form. e.g. 'Come','say' and 'give'. 'When my husband come home, he say he give tuppence for a loaf of bread' meaning 'When he came home, he said, he gave tuppence...'.This even applies to a verb like 'go'. 'Every time they go to get the needle out, it moved'. Verbs whose past participles differ from their active past tenses e.g.'spoken', are mostly ignored in Norfolk. e.g. 'If you were clever you were spoke to more often by the teacher', or 'If I hadn't went up to Mousehold that night'.
  • The verb 'to be' conjugates variously in the negative. 'I'm not' can be 'I en't' or 'I in't', or often 'I aren't'. 'He/she isn't' is usually 'he en't'. 'We/you/they are not' is as elsewhere 'we/you/they aren't'. Ethel George says 'I in't going out no more'. It could be that 'I in't' is the Norwich form of the Norfolk 'I en't'.
  • The relative pronouns, 'who', 'which' and 'that' are mostly replaced with 'what' in Norfolk. e.g. 'That was the one what I was talking about' or 'He was shaking Pimper Wiley...what lived a few doors from us'. Adjectival use of 'those'usually becomes 'them'. e.g. 'I was as bad as them what done it'
  • Adverbs are little used in the Norfolk dialect. 'She sung bewtiful' means 'she sang beautifully'. This even applies to ones derived from nouns. 'The gravy was too salt', simply means 'too salty'.
  • The word 'above' is much used in the Norfolk dialect when indicating 'more than'. e.g. when talking of a persons age, 'She could not have been above eight'; or 'I was not doing above fifty' meaning 'more than fifty mph'.
  • The word 'never' has wider use in Norfolk dialect than in standard English where it only means 'not ever'. Norfolk people will frequently use never simply as a way of saying 'did not' as in 'he never went'meaning 'he did not go'. It is also used in Norfolk as an interjection. Someone who is suddenly shocked by some remarkable fact they have just heard may say abruptly 'Never!'. e.g. Person A says:'They are expecting their fourteenth child'; Person B says 'Never!'
  • The word 'together', pronounced 'tergether' is widely used as a form of address in Norfolk dialect. When speaking to two or more people it is usual to say something like 'Come here, tergether'. This does not mean, 'come here at the same time', but 'both of you, come here'. Someone might say 'What do you think of this, tergether?' The term 'tergether' simply indicates that you are addressing everyone and not just one person. A contributor under Phrases, below, indicates that this is also the case in German, which is indeed interesting, as it seems entirely foreign to standard English. Anyone brought up speaking the Norfolk dialect can easily be aware of the unavailability of this essential idiom outside of East Anglia.
  • The present participle, or, form of the verb, such as running, writing etc. is mostly rendered in the Middle English form of 'a-running', 'a-jumping' etc. 'She's a robbin me'.
  • The word 'time' is often used to replace 'while', for example 'I go shopping in the city, time my husband's at the football' or 'Time you were fooling about, you could have been doing your homework'.

Some of these grammatical features are often present also in neighbouring dialects, in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire etc. Some of them are merely the retention of older speech forms, once more extensively used throughout the country. Expressions such as 'abed' meaning 'in bed' (see below), still used in Norfolk in 2009, was undoubtedly used by Shakespeare. At parting, Norfolk people often say 'fare yer well', a local version of the old English expression 'fare thee well'.


  • ar ya reet boi? (are you okay good fellow)
  • at that time of day (in those days, only cost tuppence a pint at that time of day)
  • bred and born (used instead of "born and bred")
  • co ter heck (an exclamation of amazement)
  • come on ter rain (starts to rain, as in 'if that come on ter rain we shall get wet')
  • cor blarst me (when expressing, shock, surprise or exasperation)
  • dew yar fa' ki' a dickir, bor? (Does your old man keep a donkey, mate?)(See Dickir/Dickie in vocabulary, below)
  • dew yew keep a troshin (means "carry on with the threshing" on its own but also means goodbye or "take care of yourself")
  • directly ('as soon as'or 'immediately'), as in 'Directly they got their money on Friday nights, the women would get the suits out of the pawn shop'
  • fare y'well (goodbye)
  • finish, at the/in the (eventually, as in 'he gave it to her at the finish'; or 'You might as well have went in the beginning, 'cause you had to go in the finish'.)
  • get on to someone (to tell someone off, as in 'They all went quiet, but they never got onto father no more')
  • get wrong (told off)
  • good on'yer (good for you)
  • he'll square yew up (he will chastise you)
  • The Fenians are coming (Phrase, typically referring to a commotion nearby. An old phrase originally referring to Irish travellers, who normally caused a commotion in towns they passed through)
  • he dint ortera dun it. (he ought not to have done it).
  • high learned (well-educated, clever)
  • hoddy-doddy (very small)
  • hold yew hard ('hang on', or 'wait a moment', from the practice of holding a horse's rein hard to stop it moving forward)
  • how much did you give for it? (How much did you pay for it?)
  • I/we/you will hetter keep a dewun (no alternative but to keep going)
  • ill a bed an wus up (very sick)
  • lend us a lug (when asking someone else to listen in to a conversation for you)
  • lolloping along (strolling along)
  • mind how you go (good-bye)
  • mobbed a rum'un (made a lot of fuss)
  • my heart alive! (expression of surprise, similar to 'good gracious me!', sometimes shortened to 'my heart' as in 'my heart thas dear' meaning 'good heavens, that's expensive'. When Norfolk people use the term 'good gracious', they will sometimes say 'good gracious on to me'.)
  • Old Year's Night (New Year's Eve)
  • on the huh, ?on the moo (awry, slanted, not level)
  • putting on his/her parts (having a tantrum, or acting up - usually of a child)
  • put you in the mind of (to remind you of, as in 'she put me in the mind of Irene', meaning 'she reminds me of Irene')
  • slummocking great mawther (fat girl)
  • suffun savidge (very angry)
  • that crazes me! (that really annoys me)
  • that'll larn yer (that'll teach you)
  • tergether One particular expression is the greeting of a couple with the phrase Mornin'/Evenin' together a form that is also used in German speaking countries. (This is extensively used in Norfolk; see under grammar, above)
  • titty-totty (very small)
  • two penneth, six penneth etc (two penny worth)
  • wus up?' (what's wrong?)
  • yellow belly (person from the Fens; a Fenman)

The following exchange is a shibboleth
A shibboleth is a custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people, especially a long-standing one regarded as outmoded or no longer important...

 for Broad Norfolk speakers.

He yer fa got a dickey, bor? (Has your father got a donkey, boy?)

Yis, an' he want a fule ter roid 'im, will yew cum? (Yes, and he wants a fool to ride him, will you do it?)


Dialect words and phrases
  • abed (in bed)
  • afore (before)
  • afront (in front)
  • agin (against, often when meaning 'next to'as in 'he live agin the Kings Arms')
  • ahind (behind)
  • ameant (meant, ought, supposed, or should)
  • arst (ask/asked)
  • atop (on top)
  • a'smornun (this morning, as in 'I saw her a'smornun' also 'a'sarternun',and'a'sevenun'.)
  • atwin (between, as in 'He dornt know the difference atwin the two', or 'a rose atwin two thorns')
  • a-Friday, a-Wednesday etc. (on Friday, as in 'I see him a-Friday', meaning I saw him on Friday, or 'I shall go to Carrer Rud a-Saturday).
  • backards (backwards, 'I hetter keep goin' backards and forrards up to Norwich)
  • bishy barney bee (ladybird (from Bishop Bonner
    Edmund Bonner
    Edmund Bonner , Bishop of London, was an English bishop. Initially an instrumental figure in the schism of Henry VIII from Rome, he was antagonized by the Protestant reforms introduced by Somerset and reconciled himself to Roman Catholicism...

    's bee))
  • blar (cry)
  • bor (a term of address, boy or neighbour often used as 'ah bor', an exclamatory confirmation, such as in the following exchange Jimmur -'Thas suffun hot today ent it', Arnie - 'Ah bor'.)
  • charleypig/barneypig (wood louse/pillbug)
  • chimbley (chimney)
  • craze (nag. e.g.he kept crazing me to buy him sweets, or 'I'd craze her and craze her her')
  • crockin (crying)
  • deen (a 'sound', usually to emphasise that someone who was in pain did not cry out, as in 'when she bumped her head, she never made a deen'.)
  • dickey (donkey; however note that the word 'donkey' appears only to have been in use in English since the late 18th century. The Oxford English Dictionary quotes 'dicky' as one of the alternative slang terms for an ass.)
  • dodman/dundmun (snail)
  • drant (drawl)
  • drift (lane)
  • dudder (shiver or tremble. It is not unique to Norfolk. Appears in the OED as 'dodder'.)
  • dussent (dare not, as in 'he dussent do it')
  • dwile (floor cloth, sometimes dishcloth)
  • forrards (forwards)
  • fillum (film/movie)
  • gorp (look or stare (what you gorpin at?)
  • guzunder (goes-under - another word for chamber-pot)
  • hap'orth (halfpenny worth)
  • harnser (heron
    The herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae. There are 64 recognised species in this family. Some are called "egrets" or "bitterns" instead of "heron"....

  • hant, hent, hint (haven't)
  • hintut (Isn't it, as either statement or question)
  • hopp'n toad (frog)
  • hull(throw - from 'hurl'e.g. 'Hull us that spanner' meaning 'Throw me that spanner')
  • jasper (wasp)
  • jiffle (fidget)
  • jip (feeling, sense of pain, as in 'that give me jip')
  • jollificeartions (to have fun)
  • kewter (money)
  • loke (alley; another word for lane)
  • lollop (progress slowly)
  • lug (ear)
  • lummox (clumsy or ungainly person)
  • mardle (to chat; village pond)
  • mawkin (scarecrow
    A scarecrow is, essentially, a decoy, though traditionally, a human figure dressed in old clothes and placed in fields by farmers to discourage birds such as crows or sparrows from disturbing and feeding on recently cast seed and growing crops.-History:In Kojiki, the oldest surviving book in Japan...

  • mawther (a young woman - usually derogatory and always politically incorrect)
  • mob (to tell off. e.g. 'his missus mobbed him for going to the pub', also to complain e.g. 'he was always mobbun about suffun'. In Allan Smethurst's song 'Hae the bottum dropped out' there are two lines that run 'A fisherman's life's a rum ole job; the winter winds blow, and the women, they mob.))
  • pingle (to mess about with food, especially when talking to children - 'stop pingling')
  • pishamire (ant)
  • puckaterry (stress, panic)
  • pootrud (putrid, meaning awful, terrible, useless, particularly when applied to the performance of a sports player such as a footballer; 'the centre-forward was pootrud' means he had an awful game. This particular meaning of 'putrid' is, according to the OED, available in standard English, but it is rarely heard, the term almost always being associated with decomposition of organic material.)
  • queer (ill, but not unique to Norfolk)
  • rubub, (rhubarb)
  • rum (odd or unusual)
  • shink (I should think so)
  • slummockun (this is difficult to translate into standard English and exceedingly incorrect politically! It suggests someone who is overweight, and perhaps inclined to idleness e.g. 'a slummockun gret mawther'.)
  • slar (spread - usually meaning spread thickly or crudely)
  • squit (nonsense)
  • stingy (mean)
  • skew wiff (unlevel, not straight; not unique to Norfolk)
  • skerrick (a morsel of food)
  • suffun (something)
  • terl (towel)
  • ticker (heart as in "you got a dodgy ticker there bor?". But the term ticker in this context is by no means unique to Norfolk)
  • thack (push hard or hit - as in "you betta thack it koz i'is a bit stiff" - written on door of Fakenham post sorting office
    Sorting office
    Sorting office or Processing and Distribution Center is any location where postal operators bring mail after collection for sorting into batches for delivery to the addressee, which may be a direct delivery or sent onwards to another regional or local sorting office, or to another postal...


Accented pronunciation
  • diffus (difference)
  • gret (great, big, or significant)
  • loight (light)
  • ollust (always)
  • occard (awkward)
  • shud (shed)
  • troshin (originally 'threshing,' now working in general)
  • warmint (varmint or vermin, troublesome person)
  • zackly (exactly)

Famous speakers

  • Sidney Grapes
    Sidney Grapes
    Sidney Grapes was a British comedian, the owner of a bicycle shop and later a garage in Potter Heigham, a village in northeast Norfolk.In the years before the Second World War, he acquired a reputation as an amateur Norfolk dialect comedian, performing at social functions in many parts of the...

     - author of The Boy John Letters
  • Bernard Matthews
    Bernard Trevor Matthews
    Bernard Trevor Matthews CVO, CBE was the founder of Bernard Matthews Farms Limited, a company that is best-known for farming turkeys and producing turkey products.-Early life:...

     - turkey tycoon
  • The Nimmo Twins
    The Nimmo Twins
    The Nimmo Twins are a sketch comedy duo from Norfolk, UK comprising Owen Evans and Karl Minns. Formed in 1996 in Norwich, they first came to national attention after their show Posh Spice Nude was a sell-out success at the 1997 Edinburgh Festival...

     - comedy duo
  • Horatio Nelson - "I am a Norfolk man, and glory in being so"; also said to Captain Hardy "Do you anchor" (an order, not a question, in the Dialect)
  • Singing Postman - aka Allan Smethurst
  • Keith Skipper
    Keith Skipper
    Keith Skipper is a journalist who writes for the Eastern Daily Press. He is also an author and formerly a broadcaster with BBC Radio Norfolk. His most recent books include: The Bumper Book of Norfolk Squit and Confessions of a Norfolk Newshound....

     - former Norfolk broadcaster and dialect expert
  • Peter Trudgill
    Peter Trudgill
    Professor Peter Trudgill FBA is a sociolinguist, academic and author.He was born in 1943 in Norwich, England, where he attended the City of Norwich School from 1955....

     - professor of sociolinguistics, author of several books on the Norfolk dialect and currently honorary professor of sociolinguistics at the University of East Anglia
    University of East Anglia
    The University of East Anglia is a public research university based in Norwich, United Kingdom. It was established in 1963, and is a founder-member of the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities.-History:...

  • Maurice Wood
    Maurice Wood
    Maurice Arthur Ponsonby Wood DSC was an Anglican bishop in the Evangelical tradition. He was a Royal Navy commando chaplain in World War II and later the Bishop of Norwich.-Early life and education:...

     - Bishop of Norwich, recorded the gospel in Norfolk dialect
  • The Kipper Family
    The Kipper Family
    The Kipper Family was a two-man parody folk group played by Chris Sugden and Dick Nudds .-History:The group performed as the Kipper Family throughout the 1980s and released several cult albums...

    , exponents of comedy folk, whose traditions are being kept barely alive by Sid Kipper
    Sid Kipper
    Chris Sugden is a Norfolk humorist, best known for his portrayal of fictional folk singer Sid Kipper, the younger half of The Kipper Family.-Personal life:...

  • Ida Fenn - author of "Tales of a Countryman", a collection of over 20 years Broad Norfolk writing of "Boy Jimma and His Family" published in the Yarmouth Mercury.

External links and references

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