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You may recall in the Basic Level I told you this article came about as a reaction to the TV drama series Kingdom.

The fact that the series was set in Norfolk seemed to have passed many of the actors by; and in spite of our TV screens showing incontrovertible evidence that we were in modern Wells or Swaffham, many of the actors could be heard trying to persuade us that, actually, we were somewhere in Dorset about 100 years ago.

Some of the thespians, though, did appear to be trying to achieve a Norfolk accent, and these lessons are offered to them, entirely free of charge – out of
gratitude for the respect they have shown to our county.

The number of grateful responses we have received so far from actors and others working on the series is... ...0!

The Basic Level, it will be remembered, was to help you sound as if you didn’t come from somewhere else, whilst the Introductory Level should have helped you start sounding just a little bit like you do, in fact, come from Norfolk’.

We now move on to the Intermediate Level and how to sound even more like you actually.. do... come... from Norfolk!

So, go on, me ole bewties, an’ hev a go!


(A) It is better if you do not drop your h’s.

Rural East Anglia and Geordieland in the Northeast are
the only two areas of England to which ‘h-dropping’ has not yet penetrated.

Like many things that start life in London we have been rather resistant to this and you will therefore sound more authentic if you do not indulge in it.

It is not too serious, however, if you forget and drop a few h’s – then people will think you come from Norwich or Yarmouth, urban areas which are of course always in the vanguard in the acceptance of exciting new changes from the metropolis, provided of course that these innovations are at least 100 years old.

(B) Get the co-operation of the script writers in ensuring that the real local characters in the series omit the third-person singular present-tense ‘-s’.

This is not so scary as it sounds. All it means is that, according to the grammar of the Norfolk dialect, forms with verbs like ‘she works there’, ‘he likes it’ do not happen.

We say ‘she work there’, ‘he like it’.

If you think about it, this is actually very sensible, as that little -s doesn’t do anybody much good at all really, and leaving it out makes the verb system nice and regular:

I, you, he, she, it, we, they all like it.

And of course we also say ‘he do’ rather than ‘he does’, and ‘she have’ rather than ‘she has’.

So you will hear ‘he like it, do he’?

However, if your character is a local solicitor or banker, you might let him keep at least some of his -s’s, as that will make him sound just that little bit more-appropriately posh.

This is all really rather simple and should perhaps have been in the Basic or Introductory Levels.

“See how’ya go on wi’ this one then!”

Professor Peter Trudgill FBA  

Peter Trudgill FBA President of FOND
Honorary Professor of Sociolinguistics at the
University of East Anglia

Lost in Translation; read about the Norfolk Schools Dialect Project.
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