east anglia

Day 36 – Dinge

Books

The Vocabulary of East Anglia; An Attempt to Record The Vulgar Tongue of the Twin Sister Counties, Norfolk and Suffolk, as it Existed In the Last Twenty Years of the Eighteenth Century, and Still Exists; With Proof of its Antiquity from Etymology and Authority Vol I and II

On rainy days like today there is no finer way to pass the hours than to browse through the pages of The Vocabulary of East Anglia; An Attempt to Record The Vulgar Tongue of the Twin Sister Counties, Norfolk and Suffolk, as it Existed In the Last Twenty Years of the Eighteenth Century, and Still Exists; With Proof of its Antiquity from Etymology and Authority (1830), by the late Rev. Robert Forby.

Seriously, the title of the book really is 44 words long.

It is a marvellous two volume collection (volume one contains mostly the title of the book and 156 pages of introduction) of words and phrases, or, as the introduction puts it, “a fabricated farrago of cant, slang, or what has more recently be denominated flash language, spoken by vagabonds, mendicants, and outcasts; by sharpers, swindlers, and felons, for the better concealment of their illegal practices.”

When I moved to Norwich from Manchester some eleven years ago, the first word or phrase that caught my ear was “on the huh”.

Unsurprisingly it appears in Volume I as, “Ahuh, adv. awry, aslant” and is noted as being of Anglo Saxon origin.

I now use the phrase regularly for anything that is lopsided. 

The two volumes of The Vocabulary of East Anglia; An Attempt to Record The Vulgar Tongue of the Twin Sister Counties, Norfolk and Suffolk, as it Existed In the Last Twenty Years of the Eighteenth Century, and Still Exists; With Proof of its Antiquity from Etymology and Authority are such dippers and every time I find the strength to pick them up I find new words and meanings.

Rev. Robert Forby

Rev. Robert Forby

I can’t share them all, so here’s a very small sample from Volume I.

Chop-Logger-Head, s. an intense blockhead. One who has a head, to all appearance thick and stout enough to bear a blow of a hatchet.

Chout, s. a jolly frolic; a rustic merry-making.

Dinge, v. to rain mistily, to drizzle.

Erinacle, v. A small round of leather used to stop water running out of the plughole of a metal bathing vessel.

Fen-Nightingale, s. A frog. Otherwise called a March-bird. It is in that month that frogs are vocal.

Actually, I’ve made one of those up.

Stay dry and stay safe.