Thass not a dodman, thass a hodmedod!’

Suffolk County Council has just won £35,000 of Heritage Lottery funding for a project which will see a collection of nearly 900 oral history recordings computerised and put onto CD, where they will be preserved and can be borrowed from libraries.

There are tales of scuffly weather, of mashes and of beatsters.

Most of all they are tales of everyday life, which will soon be accessible to all.

Suffolk County Council has just won £35,000 of Heritage Lottery funding for a project which will see a collection of nearly 900 oral history recordings computerised and put onto CD, where they will be preserved and can be borrowed from libraries.

The tapes, made between the 1960s and earlier this decade, feature ordinary people talking about Suffolk life in days past.

They are also an insight into Suffolk dialect - so much so that one of the collections, compiled by David Butcher and recording life in Lowestoft fishing industry, is also held by the University of Freiburg in Germany as part of its study of English dialects.

The David Butcher collection includes phrases like: "A little bit of scuffly weather wuz the best weather f'gittin' herrin' in. Scuffly. You'd want a breeze, I spose, about force 4 or 5. When thass calm, like, there's no movement, is there?"

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One tale of learning to mend nets recalls: "We did what they call a sprink. That was one mash, (broken strand of mesh) you see. And then we were taught how to do a crow's foot. That's two mashes. From that we went to a hole and then we were put on a net with a person that was a full-time beatster (mender of fishing nets) and she would teach us."

Robert Malster, vice-chairman of the Suffolk Local History Council, said: "David Butcher's tapes are lovely. You can read the transcripts and hear certain old friends speaking."

He said Lowestoft had its own dialect; the Waveney valley, including Beccles, Bungay and Diss, had another.

The audio collections

range across Suffolk and

cover topics such as women

in wartime, agriculture, everyday life, and the arrival of West Indians in Ipswich in the 1950s. Transcripts will be made of them all and snippets of sound will be added to an online catalogue so that people can listen before they decide which to borrow.

Mr Malster said the main difference between the Suffolk and Norfolk dialects is "that Suffolk is Norfolk set to music".

There is much shared vocabulary between the two counties, though also some striking differences. Suffolk's goudenbug or rainybug is Norfolk's bisheebarneybee. In Norfolk, a snail is a dodman, while in Suffolk it is more likely to be a hodmedod - a word often used in Norfolk to mean hedgehog.

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