Watton man teaches Norfolk dialect to students in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The sound of Norfolk dialect has been troshing around the tearbles of a school room.

But the 'larnin' about mawkins, dickeys and squit has not been among the fields and flint buildings of the language's homeland.

It has been amid palm trees and skyscrapers 3000 miles away in Saudi Arabia.

For a former Watton man has introduced his mother tongue to international students who are studying the differences between English dialects.

Peter Thompson has been teaching at the British International School at Riyadh in Saudi Arabia for three years.

The former Royal Marine switched to teaching in 2003 after training at the University of East Anglia and taught at Watlington near Downham Market for two years before taking a post in Kuwait where he met his wife Lorraine, who is also a teacher.

At Riyadh the youngsters are from Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, India as well as Ireland, Scotland and England.

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He explained: 'At a recent English lesson we were all enjoying discussing different aspects of non-standard English dialects and being a Norfolk boy it seemed sensible to throw my home dialect into the mix as well.'

He used the Friends of Norfolk Dialect website and founds 'some great examples of this wonderful dialect that many other misunderstand or take to be Cornish.

They included a John Kett poem called Lazy Wind about the icy winter blasts on Cromer Pier - which is a contrast to the 50 degree heat of a Saudi summer.

Mr Thompson, who also has a house in Norwich for the holidays, said the students found the website a good way of learning about 'a rum ol Norfolk darlec'.

Local dialect champion and FOND founder Keith Skipper said: 'It is always so heartening to hear about the precious Norfolk dialect reaching unexpected parts – and when a frisky day on Cromer Pier takes top billing. well, that makes it even more special.'

He praised Mr Thompson for doing 'important missionary work' with the FOND website (www.norfolkdialect.com) proving 'an excellent ally.'

*For the uninitiated, mawkins, dickeys and squit are scarecrows, donkeys and Norfolk nonsense.

? The annual celebration of the Norfolk dialect takes place at the Cromer Parish Hall on Tuesday April 24 (7.30pm) as part of the Cromer and North Norfolk Festival of Music, Drama and Dance (admission �2 at the door).

? FOND president Peter Trudgill, a highly-acclaimed professor of linguistics, will give a talk on the Changing Norfolk Dialect at Hethersett Methodist Church on Sunday May 13 (2pm). Admission �4 (�3 for FOND members).