East Anglian English
East Anglian
RegionEast Anglia and Essex
EthnicityEast Anglians
Early forms
English alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Red areas are the commonly agreed upon areas in East Anglia of Norfolk and Suffolk. The pink areas are the areas that are not always agreed upon by scholars containing Essex and Cambridgeshire.

East Anglian English is a dialect of English spoken in East Anglia, primarily in or before the mid-20th century. East Anglian English has had a very considerable input into modern Estuary English. However, it has received little attention from the media and is not easily recognised by people from other parts of the United Kingdom. The dialect's boundaries are not uniformly agreed upon;[1] for instance, the Fens were traditionally an uninhabited area that was difficult to cross, so there was little dialect contact between the two sides of the Fens leading to certain internal distinctions within that region.[2]

Linguist Peter Trudgill has identified several sub-dialects, including Norfolk (Broad Norwich), Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, and various Fenland dialects.[1]


In Jacek Fisiak's and Peter Trudgill's book, East Anglian English, they describe the important influence East Anglian English has had on the development of the English language. In addition to its influence in the Standard English that is known today all around England, there is evidence according to Oxford Dictionary that East Anglian English grammar was heard in North Carolina.[3]

Very little is known about the Anglo-Saxon East Anglian dialect; a Suffolk charter (of Æthelflæd, before 991) is included in Sweet (1946:188–89). S. L. Bensusan set out to record elements of the East Anglian dialect and records a statement made by a local when she caught him making notes on the sleeve of his shirt: "Whatever you bin makin' them little owd squiggles on y'r cuff fower?" Bensusan replied that he was "writing history". He then recorded her retort: "You dedn't wanter done that. Telly f'r why. When you've got y'r shirt washed there won't be nawthen left. I've never wrote nawthen all me born days, ne yet me husban', an he got all his teeth an' I kin thread me needle without spectacles. Folk don't wanter write in this world, they wanter do a job o' work."[4]




East Anglian English shows some of the general accent features of South East England, including:

However, several features also make East Anglian accents unique:




In addition to the above phonological features, East Anglian English also has a distinct rhythm. This is due to the loss of unstressed syllables associated with East Anglian speakers.[45] There appears to be no agreed framework for describing the prosodic characteristics of different dialects (see Intonation). Writing in 1889, the phonetician Alexander John Ellis began his section on East Anglian speech with these comments:

Every one has heard of the [Norfolk] 'drant', or droning and drawling in speech, and the [Suffolk] 'whine,' but they are neither of them points which can be properly brought under consideration here, because intonation has been systematically neglected, as being impossible to symbolise satisfactorily, even in the rare cases where it could be studied.[46]

There does appear to be agreement that the Norfolk accent has a distinctive rhythm due to some stressed vowels being longer than their equivalents in RP and some unstressed vowels being much shorter.[43][47] Claims that Norfolk speech has intonation with a distinctive "lilt" lack robust empirical evidence.

Norwich accent

In addition to above features, one specific accent is associated with urban Norfolk and namely its largest city, Norwich.


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "East Anglian English" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (June 2022) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

The treatment of the Norfolk dialect in the television drama All the King's Men in 1999 in part prompted the foundation of the Friends of Norfolk Dialect (FOND), a group formed with the aim of preserving and promoting Broad Norfolk.[citation needed]

Arnold Wesker's 1958 play Roots used Norfolk dialect.[citation needed]

During the 1960s, Anglia Television produced a soap opera called "Weavers Green" which used local characters making extensive use of Norfolk dialect. The programme was filmed at the "cul-de-sac" village of Heydon north of Reepham in mid Norfolk.

An example of the Norfolk accent and vocabulary can be heard in the songs by Allan Smethurst, aka The Singing Postman. Smethurst's Norfolk accent is well known from his releases of the 1960s, such as "Hev Yew Gotta Loight Bor?". The Boy John Letters of Sidney Grapes, which were originally published in the Eastern Daily Press, are another valid example of the Norfolk dialect. Beyond simply portrayers of speech and idiom however, Smethurst, and more especially Grapes, record their authentic understanding of mid-20th century Norfolk village life. Grapes' characters, the Boy John, Aunt Agatha, Granfar, and Ole Missus W, perform a literary operetta celebrating down-to-earth ordinariness over bourgeois affectation and pretence.

Charles Dickens had some grasp of the Norfolk accent which he utilised in the speech of the Yarmouth fishermen, Ham and Daniel Peggoty in David Copperfield. Patricia Poussa analyses the speech of these characters in her article Dickens as Sociolinguist.[50] She makes connections between Scandinavian languages and the particular variant of Norfolk dialect spoken in the Flegg area around Great Yarmouth, a place of known Viking settlement. Significantly, the use of 'that' meaning 'it', is used as an example of this apparent connection.

The publication in 2006 by Ethel George (with Carole and Michael Blackwell) of The Seventeenth Child provides a written record of spoken dialect, though in this case of a person brought up inside the city of Norwich. Ethel George was born in 1914, and in 2006 provided the Blackwells with extensive tape-recorded recollections of her childhood as the seventeenth offspring of a relatively poor Norwich family. Carole Blackwell has reproduced a highly literal written rendering of this.[51]

An erudite and comprehensive study of the dialect, by Norfolk native and professor of sociolinguistics Peter Trudgill can be found in his book The Norfolk Dialect (2003), published as part of the 'Norfolk Origins' series by Poppyland Publishing, Cromer.

Notable speakers

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

See also


  1. ^ a b Trudgill (2001).
  2. ^ Trudgill, Peter; Fisiak, Jacek (2001). East Anglian English. Boydell & Brewer. p. 220. ISBN 9780859915717.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Trudgill, Peter (17 August 2012). "East Anglian English". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 10 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  4. ^ Bensusan (1949).
  5. ^ Trudgill (2001), p. 1.
  6. ^ a b Trudgill (2001), p. 2.
  7. ^ "Speaking the Norfolk dialect: Advanced Level". Archived from the original on 19 December 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  8. ^ see George 2006, p. 97.
  9. ^ George 2006, p. 155.
  10. ^ George 2006, p. 190.
  11. ^ see George 2006, p. 75.
  12. ^ a b George 2006, p. 102.
  13. ^ a b c d e 'Bootiful' dialect to be saved, BBC News, 3 July 2001
  14. ^ George 2006, p. 113.
  15. ^ "donkey". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  16. ^ see George 2006, p. 74.
  17. ^ George 2006, p. 76.
  18. ^ George 2006, p. 142.
  19. ^ Trudgill (2021), p. 87.
  20. ^ Wells 1982, pp. 335–6.
  21. ^ Lodge 2009, p. 168.
  22. ^ Wells 1982, p. 339.
  23. ^ Trudgill (2021), p. 81.
  24. ^ a b Trudgill (2001), p. 7.
  25. ^ Trudgill (2021), p. 91.
  26. ^ A site containing geographically located accents on an interactive map of East Anglia – the one in Thorington Street is particularly helpful in the pronunciation of "now" and similar words. Archived 2011-10-20 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Trudgill (2021), p. 76.
  28. ^ Wells 1982, p. 337.
  29. ^ Trudgill (2021), p. 77.
  30. ^ Wells 1982, p. 338.
  31. ^ Lodge 2009, pp. 167–8.
  32. ^ Trudgill (2021), p. 70-71.
  33. ^ Trudgill 2003, pp. 80–1.
  34. ^ Wells 1982, pp. 238–242.
  35. ^ Trudgill (2001), pp. 4–7.
  36. ^ Trudgill (2021), p. 69.
  37. ^ Trudgill (2021), p. 71-72.
  38. ^ Classic 1980s Bernard Matthews Norfolk Turkey Bootiful (Television production). missced. 1985.
  39. ^ Wells 1982, pp. 338–9.
  40. ^ Trudgill 2003, p. 78.
  41. ^ Trudgill (2001), p. 4.
  42. ^ a b Trudgill (2021), p. 86.
  43. ^ a b Wells 1982, p. 341.
  44. ^ Trudgill (2021), p. 84.
  45. ^ Trudgill (2001), p. 8.
  46. ^ page 260 of On Early English Pronunciation, Part V. The existing phonology of English dialects compared with that of West Saxon speech, A.J. Ellis, Truebner & Co, London, 1889 https://archive.org/stream/onearlyenglishpr00elliuoft#page/260/mode/2up/search/whine
  47. ^ Trudgill 2003, p. 82.
  48. ^ Wells 1982, p. 340.
  49. ^ Trudgill 2003, p. 86.
  50. ^ Writing in Non-Standard English, eds. Irma Taavitsainen, Gunnel Melchers and Paivi Pahta (Philadelphia 1999) pp. 27–44
  51. ^ George 2006.
  52. ^ Robert Southey The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson p205
  53. ^ Martin Robson A History of the Royal Navy: Napoleonic Wars p34
  54. ^ "The Boy John Letters".
  55. ^ "Modest war hero Ted Snelling who became the voice of 'old Norridge'". 10 September 2017.