It was on the afternoon of Sunday, 3 October 1999, that some fifty people from all corners of the county gathered in the Village Hall at Yaxham and decided to establish an organisation which would strive to preserve the unique sound of the Norfolk dialect.
Under the chairmanship of Keith Skipper, a constitution was agreed, an organising committee elected and FOND was in business – with a figure of international repute in the field of linguistics, Norwich-born Professor Peter Trudgill, as its president.
As if to order, a few weeks later the BBC film All the King’s Men appeared on our screens, prompting Skip to comment: “Perfect timing, eh? FOND flexes its muscles as another big-name television production makes a mockery of the Norfolk tongue. All the King’s Men from Sandringham assembled proudly, then marched into the same old murky Mummerzet waters.”
Since FOND was formed in 1999, we have:
- Achieved a membership from all parts of Norfolk and the Waveney Valley, as well as ex-pats scattered across the world.
- Visited all parts of the county with a rolling programme of public meetings (or dews) each year. These meetings have attracted distinguished and entertaining speakers and have helped to raise funds for our cause. They have included our annual New Year party and ‘scratch’ pantomime
- Given advice on dialect to theatre actors, producers and authors.
- Secured Lottery funding to purchase recording equipment, and given training in its use to a number of members.
- Made steady progress with a programme of recording dialect speakers, the recordings being housed in the Sound Archive at the Norfolk Records Office.
- Assisted with the organisation of seminars involving teachers and the University of East Anglia.
- Put together displays at various fetes and festivals around Norfolk and taken part in events such as the Harleston Festival.
During that period our President, Peter Trudgill, has completed his book on the historical development and grammar of the Norfolk dialect.
POOR ON-SCREEN PORTRAYAL OF NORFOLK DIALECT
One of the factors which led to the formation of FOND was the concern and disappointment often expressed by Norfolk people over the portrayal of their accent in films and on television.
It was our view that the writers and producers of programmes set in East Anglia, who would make every effort to ensure the historical accuracy of their work in every other respect, paid scant regard to the need to ensure that the language spoken by actors portraying local people was equally authentic. We have continued to express our views on this issue whenever possible, and we have taken a number of opportunities to raise the profile of the Norfolk Dialect through the media, including taking part in the BBC Radio 4 ‘Voices’ project.
Our continuing aim is to record and promote the dialect which is such an important part of the history and character of the region.