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Do you know your hobbly gobbles from your hulva, home done saace and rot-gut? How to celebrate Christmas - Suffolk style

It may be Christmas with a difference this year but it's still that time of year when we decorate our homes with hulva, keep our eye on the chimbly before tucking into hobbly gobbles and saace, right?

Or at least that's according to the Museum of East Anglian Life (MEAL) which has been helping with a project to compile a database of traditional dialects from across England.

MEAL in Stowmarket has linked up with researchers from the University of Leeds who are working on the project after receiving more than £500,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Curator Kate Knowlden with a book of Suffolk phrases and a piece of 'hulva'. Picture by Chloe Brett
Curator Kate Knowlden with a book of Suffolk phrases and a piece of 'hulva'. Picture by Chloe Brett

A website featuring the regional and local dialects is due to go live next year and series of events are planned to help engage communities across the country.

MEAL is now on the lookout for an engagement officer to join them for the project and which will also help build a 'pop-up dialect kit' the university is producing, and carry out further research.

We asked staff at the museum why they felt preserving Suffolk dialect was important and if they had any Christmas words and phrases to share.

How many do you know?

Christmas: Holly or evergreens collected for festive decorations in home or churches.

Hobbly Gobbles: Turkey cocks

Chimbly: Chimney

Meat in the Main: Roasted meat under done.

Home Done: Sufficiently cooked through

Snewtin(g): Snowing

Frawn: Frozen

Slivva: A sliver of cake

Snap-dragon: A winter-time party game

Hulva/hulver: Holly

Tayters: Potatoes

Saace: Sauce

Rot-gut: Poor quality ale

Kate Knowlden, curator at the Museum of East Anglian, life, said: "It's a fascinating project and we are hoping out new engagement office will help spread the word and also help us add to the database by speaking to local people.

"It’s interesting to see where certain words and phrases come from and why – dialect tells us stories about the way people used to live.

"With people moving from rural areas to bigger cities, and across the country, local dialect is disappearing so it’s important we preserve this for generations to come."

Here's a few more we found that could be used at Christmas, or any time of year...


Waddledickie: Donkey

Chaites: Left over food

Cupla three: More than two

Bor: Friend

Blabber: Can't keep a secret

On the drag: Late

Jiggered: Surprised

Rum: Odd

Ewe: Owed


That tree is sloightly on the huh: The tree is at an angle.

How yer gittin' on?: How is everyone?

That ole mawther git roight on my wick: That woman really irritates me

That hooly snew last noight: We had a lot of snow last night.

A rum ol' mawther: A remarkable woman

He git on ma wick: He really annoys me

Oi hint never sin nuth'n loike that: I've never seen anything like that

Sorry I'm on the drag: My apologies for being late

Can you add to the list?

If so, please use our comment section below.

Read more: All the latest news from Stowmarket

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk