Arthur Ransome and the Dialect of Norfolk

Graeme Davis


Arthur Ransome provides information about the dialect of the English county of Norfolk as it was actually spoken in the 1930s. Two of his novels (Coot Club and The Big Six) are set on the Norfolk Broads. In these he offers some Norfolk vocabulary within the reported speech of some of his characters, along with some direct reflection on the dialect. However his masterpiece of Norfolk dialect is within Coots in the North (his unfinished novel, not published during his lifetime) where he presents what is in effect an extended Norfolk dialogue of over two-hundred lines. Ransome was an astute observer of language, and records the Norfolk dialogue with apparent accuracy and without contrivance.

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