This book will help you understand the unique and ancient Norfolk dialect and have you talking like a native in no time. The book includes a dictionary to help you develop an altogether new vocabulary, plus a wonderful collection of tales and anecdotes, all chosen to illustrate different aspects of the delightful local dialect.


Although dialects are still evident in everyday speech from different parts of the country, they are nowhere near as common or as diverse as they used to be. This gradual extinction has been noted and mourned by writers and antiquarians over many years, and huge efforts have been made to capture the colloquial speech of men and women from various parts of the country.

I grew up in Norfolk, moving with my family from the north of England to a village just outside Norwich when I was four. I therefore spent most of my early life, including the entirety of my schooling, surrounded by the rich Norfolk dialect as spoken by folk who had lived there all their lives. I remember particularly the splendid Mr Grapes, an old boy who lived at the end of our road and who would keep my mother mardling (talking) for what seemed like hours while we children jiffled (fidgeted). It was he who first introduced us to bishy barney bees, dickeys and many other Norfolk terms, as well as feeding us Polo mints and apples from his garden. The first part of this book is an A to Z of old dialect words and phrases arranged with their meanings and a few examples of usage, while the second part contains a collection of Norfolk anecdotes, stories, rhymes and curiosities, all arranged by theme. Some of the words in the A to Z are now in common use in everyday English, but the aim here is to indicate their provenance in the old Norfolk dialect. The anecdotes may be long or short, complicated or simple, but all contain genuine examples of Norfolk words or dialect as gathered by myself or recorded by historians and collectors over the years.

I have had enormous fun researching and collating this book. Along the way I have learned a great deal about my adopted home county, and smiled, laughed, winced and (in one or two cases) blushed at the down-to-earth terminology used by the East Anglian natives. I hope this book might contribute in some small way to preserving a few of the words which were once in common use but which now face extinction.

Louise Maskill