Ten things you need to know about the Norfolk dialect


Thass roight nice t'hev a mardle with the rest on yer, says Stella Ware

• There are few true Norfolk folk who wouldn’t be able to tell you that a bishybarneybee is a ladybird, but can you tell your pishamires from your barneypigs? The latter infest log piles (woodlice) while the former infest picnics (ants). Bishybarneybees, of course, infested the North Norfolk coast last summer but that’s an entirely different story.

• On the subject of insects, a mingin is the Norfolk word for a gnat. Be warned however, if someone under the age of 25 calls you minging it’s unlikely they are comparing you to a gnat.

• Titty-tottys generally enjoy a twizzle on a tittermartorter, although tend to get titchy if they fall and get thacked (children enjoy spinning on a roundabout, but tend to get annoyed if they fall off and thump to the ground). • Norfolk vowels dictate that a pair, a pear and Cromer pier all sound exactly the same. Eating a pair of pears on the pier may be taking your dedication to talking local a step too far. • If something is described as being on the huh in Norfolk, it means that the object in question isn’t level, or is on a slant. Norwich Market is, for instance, on the huh so will you be if you have one too many gin and tonics. • The technical definition of jargon is a hybrid language or dialect. The Norfolk definition of jargon is something you’d do in a tracksuit: Here gorn jargon (he’s gone jogging). • In Norfolk, a scarecrow is a mawkin, while a woman is a mawther it would stand you in good stead not to confuse the two during a mardle with your mum. • The age-old childhood practice of playing with ones food is, in Norfolk, referred to as pingling. Children often jiffle or fidget as they pingle, at which point, in less politically correct households, they might get a clip around the lug (ear) causing them to blar (cry). • Venerable Norfolk dialect expert and exponent Keith Skipper once claimed that most TV dramas confused the Norfolk accent with the West Country accent: The best Norfolk accent I’ve heard on television was on Lark Rise to Candleford, and that’s meant to be set in Oxfordshire, he said. • Hold yew hard isn’t a call to grasp a coniferous shrub, it means hold on a moment in a certain corner of Britain, at least.