Norwich accent: Pam recalls how she met her husband



This recording is an example of a Norwich accent.

The Norwich accent

A traditional Norwich accent is extremely distinctive and there are a number of features of Pam’s speech that are instantly recognisable. Listen particularly to the way she pronounces the vowel sounds in words in the following two sets:

  1. nights, like, time, quite, liked, might, fine, write, nylons, by, writing, type, realised, while and childhood
  2. know, only, no, don’t, spoke, opened, photos, wrote, those, cold, go, oh, most and suppose

Notice, however, the way she uses a much shorter vowel for the words both, home and throne in the second set. Many speakers with a broad East Anglian accent use this short vowel for words such as road and stone and in the phrase post office. Also typical of speech in Norfolk is the striking use of a weak vowel in the final syllable of words that end with such as morning, something, writing and drinking, here.

An interesting feature of East Anglian dialect grammar is the widespread use of that as the neuter subject pronoun where most dialects simply use it. Listen to the statements that’s only in later years you think about crippling your feet and I opened the letter and that was from Ray. The object pronoun, it, is used as in Standard English, as illustrated here by the statements she was fine about it and I’d seen too much of it in my childhood.

About the speaker

Pamela Alden (b.1932/09/01; female; shoe worker)



Pam: They were just good nights out, you know, with a, with a group.

Wendy: What were you wearing?

Pam: Oh I used to like, uhm, real dressy dresses – maybe some strapless – and, uhm, long skirts; platform shoes, which crippled my feet at the time. But you used to forget all about that when you were dancing. That's only in later years you think about crippling your feet. But, uhm, yeah, they were good times.

Wendy: Was mum happy about you, you going out and socialising? And, and had she ever talked to you about handling the opposite sex?

Pam: No, never. I don't think my mother ever spoke about that. What we learnt, we learnt ourselves sort of thing, you know. But yeah, she was quite happy. She liked, she liked my friend Sally and Sally's mum used to let me stay there, uhm, Saturday night, so we both went home together, you know. And, uh, then I used to come home, like the Sunday morning, get the bus home Sunday morning. And no, she was fine about it.

Wendy: Tell me about meeting your, your future husband.

Pam: Well I, suddenly out of the blue one day I got a letter. And it said on, that was when the old King was, uh, on the throne then, “His Majesty's Ships in Korean Waters”. And I opened the letter and that was from Ray, who is now my husband. He'd been talking to, uh, a fellow on his ship who was a friend of Sally. And his name was Bob; he was a Geordie. And he had a couple of photos: one of me and one of Sally. And he said to Ray, he said, “Oh, these girls live in Norwich," he said, “Pam'll write to you." And that was how we, you know, we wrote to each other and I wrote to Ray for, must've been about two years. And then, uhm, I got a letter to say he was coming home and he'd bring me some nylons home. And in those days to get a pair of nylons was something good, you know. Anyway, uhm, he got home and, uh, I, the first thing I heard from him, he, I think he wrote me a letter to say that, uh, he'd like to meet me. And, uhm, by that time I was getting a bit cold feet, you know, I didn't know whether I really wanted to meet him or whether I didn't. So I wouldn't make any definite date. But Sally and I went to The Samson[1] the Saturday night and we were dancing with boys what we'd known for a long time. I think I'd even promised one they could, he could take me home. And then I suddenly looked and I see Ray sitting there. So I said to Sally, I said, “That's that Ray I've been writing to for two years." Anyhow, we got together. I think he bought me a drink and I had to then tell this other boy that he couldn't take me home, because Ray was. And, uhm, when I first met Ray I, I didn't think we'd ever make a go of it. He really weren't my type. I loved dancing and he couldn't dance very well. And I didn't think I'd ever settle down with somebody who was not a dancer. But I think he must've grew on me really, because, uhm, we saw each other, you know, while he was home on leave. And, uh, that was just after the Christmas and by Easter we got engaged and we got married the August, August the first. And it will be forty-six years this August that we've been married.

Wendy: What do you think it was about him? I mean, you must be, have thought about it since, but there must've been something that was just, that particularly, that little bit more attractive.

Pam: Well I think I realised that he thought a lot of me and, uhm, you know, probably that was, that was the thing. But definitely in the first instance I didn't, you know, I didn't think we'd ever get to be married.

Wendy: And this was your first serious relationship, then?

Pam: Yes it was. I had gone with, uhm, a fellow in the army for a little while before, but Ray was the first serious one.

Wendy: And was he a worldly-wise lad, or was he more?

Pam: Oh yes, yes he was a worldly, wild [sic] lad, yeah. He'd, uh, he'd been to most places abroad with the navy, you know. He was, uhm, actually he, uh, when he asked me to marry him it was in Lakenham Cock pub.[2] And, uhm, through my years as a youngster I 'd seen a lot of drinking with my brothers and I vowed I was not going to have anybody who drank too much. I'd seen too much of it in my childhood. Anyhow, we were in Lakenham Cock pub and he said to me, uhm, “Will you marry me?" So I said, “Yes, I'll marry you if you give up drinking." And, uh, he have a drink, but, uh, he don't drink, you know, excessive. And, uh, I suppose that's how it's worked out really.


[1] The Samson refers to The Samson and Hercules Ballroom, a former dancehall situated in the Tomblands area of Norwich.

[2] Lakenham is an area of Norwich to the south of the city centre.

Norwich accent: Pam recalls how she met her husband
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