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Norfolk dialect… and how to pronounce Wymondham and Happisburgh

The Norfolk dialect is quite different from the other dialects of the south of England, such as the West Country and the Home Counties. And if some people think our accent sounds ‘rural’, well of course in the country areas it is.

Norwich skyline

But we like to point out that the urban area of Norwich has a quarter of a million inhabitants. And that, like Norwich, our accent is modern and innovating too.

One innovation that most other people in the English-speaking world haven’t got round to yet is that we are very happy to pronounce fear as fair, really as rarely, here as hair. If a friendly Norfolk person calls you dare, you’ll know what they mean. And you might like a nice pint of bair in a traditional Norwich pub, or sitting by a Broadland river – where it will help if you remember that boat may well sound like boot to you.

We are proud of our innovative grammar too. We no longer bother with that pointless verbal -s that encumbers other less streamlined dialects. We say, ‘He drive very fast’, ‘She write books’, ‘My friend like you’. And we say that rather than it: ‘That wus cold las’night’. On one of our hot summer days, we might ask, ‘Is that hot enough for you?’ And if we really, really like the fish and chips in Cromer, we are quite capable of saying, ‘That in’t too bad’. We are a polite people and our verbal style prefers under- to overstatement.

Another innovation is that we have re-introduced the distinction between singular and plural you, which was so carelessly lost elsewhere. You is singular, and you…together is plural. ‘How are you getting on, together?’ does not mean the same thing as ‘How are you getting on together?’

Welcome to Norfolk. Do you have a good time, together.

Spelt                                                Pronounced
Acle                                                      Aycle
Ashmanhaugh                                   ASHm’no
Aslacton                                              AzLACt’n
Aylsham                                              Ells’m/Ellsh’m
Belaugh                                               Beeluh
Bergh Apton                                       BerAPT’n

Cley Marshes and Windmill
Cley                                                       Clay
Colney                                                  Coaney
Coltishall                                             Colts’ll (with Colt- rhyming with bolt)
Corpusty                                              CORpuhsty
Costessey                                             Cossey
Crostwick                                             Crossick
Deopham                                             Deep’m
Elsing                                                    Elz’n
Foulsham                                             Fowlss’m/Fowlsh’m (with Fowl- rhyming with soul)
Fulmodestone                                     FULLmuhst’n
Garboldisham                                     Garb’lss’m/Garb’lsh’m
Gimingham                                         Gim’n’m (with a ‘hard g’)

Happisburgh                                       Haysbru
Haveringland                                      Havverl’nd
Hautbois                                              HUBBuhss
Heigham                                              Hay-um
Hellesdon                                            Helzd’n
Hoveton                                               Hofft’n

Hunstanton cliffs and lighthouse aerial Mike Page
Hunstanton                                         Hunst’n
Keswick                                                Kezzick
Letheringsett                                      Larnsuhtt
Martham                                              Mart’m
Matlaske                                              Matluhsk
Northrepps                                          Nurrepps
Norwich                                               Narch
Postwick                                              Pozzick
Rushall                                                 Rue-sh’ll

Salhouse Broad
Salhouse                                              Sallus/Selluss
Salle                                                      Saul
Shotesham                                          Shots’m
Southery                                              Suddery
Southrepps                                         Surrepps

Stiffkey Stores
Stiffkey                                                Stewkey
Stody                                                    Studdy
Swardeston                                         Swaw(d)st’n
Tacolneston                                        Tackle-st’n
Tivetshall                                            Tivvets’ll
Walsham (N. and S.)                        Walss’m

Little Walsingham. North Norfolk.
Walsingham                                       Wolz’n’m
Weybourne                                         Webb’n
Wickmere                                           Wickmuh
Wortwell                                             Wuttle
Wymondham                                     Wind’m

So, there you go, not Why-mond-ham at all!