East Anglia is bordered by the Wash and the North Sea, and situated directly opposite continental Europe. It was probably the first part of Britain to be settled by the Germanic invaders – the Angles – who gave the area its name, and therefore the first place in which English was spoken. East Anglian English is also thought to have contributed to the development of Australian and other Southern Hemisphere varieties of English.


Opinions differ on the geographical limits of East Anglia, with some definitions including parts of Essex and Cambridgeshire as well as the ‘core’ East Anglian counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. In terms of dialect, all these areas share a distinctive range of features, although there are some differences between the north and south of East Anglia. For example, a snail is traditionally known as a dodman in Norfolk, but a hodmedod in Suffolk and Essex. 


A windmill in a field

The Norfolk word for sweets, cooshies, is probably related to kushti, meaning ‘good’. Both words probably derive from Romani, and represent the linguistic influence of the traveller communities that have been in East Anglia since the 1500s. 

The history of East Anglia and its traditional ways of life are reflected in its vocabulary. Many words have their origin in crop farming and fruit picking, which once dominated the region’s flat, open landscape.