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How to speak Norridge

PUBLISHED: 09:07 17 April 2015 | UPDATED: 10:59 18 April 2015

City Hall Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

City Hall Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

A Swiss university has launched a research project looking into the Norwich accent. Martin George listens out for what makes it such a distinctive and wonderful sound.

Norfolk dialect

Norfolk is well known for its distinctive dialect, but there are also real differences between dialects in the county’s urban and rural areas.

Peter Trudgill, a professor of sociolinguistics and president of the Friends of the Norfolk Dialect, has written extensively about the subject for the EDP.

He has noted some of the differences between Norfolk and Norwich.

Historically, one difference has been the dropping of the ‘h’ sound at the start of some words. This was common in Norwich, but not in the countryside.

He wrote that languages change all the time, and H-dropping started in London “some centuries ago”, and gradually spread from there, arriving in the more important cities first. He said it has not yet reached Tyneside or Scotland.

Other examples he has given include words like ‘Hewett’ being pronounced ‘Urt’ in the city, and ‘Sewell’ being pronounced ‘Searle’.

He also picked out how ‘here’ is pronounced ‘hair’, and ‘beer’ as ‘bare’.

He said: “Rural dialects in the east of the county are a generation or so behind Norwich in losing linguistic features and in innovations. And it might be interesting to point out that the dialect of Yarmouth is more like that of Norwich than the intervening rural areas – and to an extent that’s true of Lowestoft as well – with respect to h-dropping, for example.”

Do you like beer, football and speak with a distinctive Norwich twang? If so, you could be the answer to a Swiss linguistic student’s dreams.

Mario Kieliger, of the University of Berne, has promised “a nice Swiss gift” for anyone aged 18 to 30 who agrees to meet him over a drink and “cool chat” about football – or anything else. The student is to visit the region as part of a research project into the distinct Norwich accent.

He will come to Norwich as one of a party of students led by Dave Britain, originally from Emneth, and now professor of English Linguistics at Berne University.

During their visit, they will meet Peter Trudgill, EDP columnist and honorary professor of sociolinguistics at the UEA, and some have been asked to record a conversation with a Norwich person.

Mr Kieliger is interested in analysing how the dialect of Norwich, as distinct from Norfolk, has changed over the past 40 years.

He said: “We chose Norwich because we are interested to see how a dialect changes, or not, around other predominant dialects like Norfolk or Suffolk. What role does the surrounding environment play in this particular case?”

He has no previous connections with the city, which he said had made it more difficult to find local Norwich speakers to speak to, but was looking forward to his visit and hearing the local dialect.

Asked what he thought his research might find, he said: “With people moving to Norwich, mostly for work, or out of Norwich, it is likely to find some new features in the local dialect compared to earlier.

“Features from another region could spread through East Anglia. Such features could be a slight change in vowel distribution, stress of the vowels (rhythm) or/and maybe h-dropping, but these are just speculations and need to be analysed in greater detail.”

He plans to record his interview, but promised it would be very informal and relaxed, and he would talk about any topic his interview partner likes.

How to speak Norridge

-Norridge Ci-ey: Team pushing for promotion

-Hesay (sometimes Shesay): Used before or after a quotation to emphasise the veracity of the statement, and in so doing disclaim any personal responsibility: for instance: (1) “Hesay youghter givhim aclout.” (2) “kickut ’arder, hesay.”

-Hessien? Question meaning “Have you seen?” as in “Hessien boy Billie?”

-Hewsaiso? A question saved for the receipt of unpopular instructions and when used indicates a state of near mutiny.

-Jassee: Frequently crops up in conversation when explaining a point: “Turnnit annit cumsoff, jassee?”

-Jimma Riddel: A moment of relief for men.

-Jusnow: “A moment ago; as in; “Oi jusnow see Billie.”

-Jusuperud: A short distance.

-C. Teeall: The seat of the city council.

-Lor Mare: A significant ceremonial post for Norwich.

-Ma Kett’s Place: Consists of a number of open-air booths and stalls.

-Mew Zeam: Visited by an increasing number of people. The “Car Salle Mew Zeam” is among the very best of its kind.

-Moi: My; as in: Moi toi; Moi shat; Mei shues.”

-Nurn: Often applied to the latest jokes before doubling over in mirth; for instance: “Blarst. Thetsa nurn, Billie. Hei. Hei. Hei.”

-Gorn: Going at once; as in: “Cummon yukids oim now gorn.”

-Owya Durn: A greeting meaning are you in good health or a question regarding the nearing completion of a job of work.

-Rummun: A puzzle.

-Terl: Towel: as in: “Passa terl, Winny. Oigot soopin mois.”

-Tews: Half and half, bitter and mild beer.

-Thassup Chew: Your choice, or decision.

-Timbrill: Can be found at the junction of Car Salle Meda and Our Ford Plaice.

-Shuwi: Should we; as in: “Lesgo pic churs, shuwi?”

-Sinnim: Seen him: as in; “Oir sinnim” or “We sinnim.” Sinnit is a similar word.

-Stare Shun: Norwich Thorpe railway terminus. Surrey Street bus depot is called the Bus Stare Shun.

-Susteevens: The main thoroughfare into the city centre from the south

-Ulltallim: I will inform him.

-Umgornoom: I am going home (generally said in a disillusioned manner).

-Umonoldy: I am going on holiday: similarly: Eesonoldy: Weronoldy.

-Yewl Ot: All of you: as in; “Shuddup yewlot.”

•Can you help Mr Kieliger during his visit, from May 5-8? 
Contact him at m_kieliger@hotmail.com

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