Why are we ashamed to use our Norfolk accents?

County border sign at Beccles.; Norfolk - Nelson's County; Picture: James Bass

County border sign at Beccles.; Norfolk - Nelson's County; Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

The Norfolk accent is a wonderful thing. So why do we seem ashamed to use it, asks Rachel Moore.

'Oh', said a disappointed voice at the end of the phone. 'You're not speaking in a Norfolk accent.'

A partner at a swanky London company dialled into our scheduled call hoping to be answered in broad Norfolk.

'I can do one if you'd like,' I answered, a little too spikily, offering a mardle in dialect.

He hastily explained he was from Suffolk and missed the accent, the accent of our childhood so many of us work so hard to banish to the marshes.

It's bothered me since. Why are we ashamed to be from Norfolk when we speak? We're proud to regale the benefits of our beautiful county, our city, our market towns, our coastline and countryside.

We just don't want to sound like we come from here. It is shameful.

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Listening to Labour's Shadow Health Secretary Angela Rayner on BBC Radio 4 this week, she's proud of her Manchester accent. No one expected Gordon Brown to lose his Scottish accent and the BBC's Steph McGovern has never disguised her Middleborough accent, despite a snooty viewer describing it as a 'terrible affliction' and offering her £20 to correct it.

Those from the North East, North West, Scotland and Wales preserve their accents while us East Anglians, our south western cousins and Brummies try to kill ours because we fear they count against us. And they do.

Young people are being locked out of top jobs because of the wrong accent.

Research by the Sutton Trust, which tackles social mobility, found four-fifths of those polled said young people from poorer backgrounds were ruled out of banking jobs, stating accent as a reason.

But I bet only certain accents.

We're Norfolk and proud in many ways but not in what immediately identifies us as natives of one of the finest counties in the land.

We've allowed the rest of the country to judge it out of us with prejudice that we sound slow. I, for one, feel uncomfortable about that.