Saturday, April 28, 2018

Dwile flonking

Tonight (28/04/2018, 20:00) on Channel Four in the UK there is a programme on Tudor Norwich, which recognizes the contribution that Dutch and Flemish immigrants or Strangers made to the city's economic, cultural and social life. So the subject of today's blog is a word of Dutch origin that is used in varieties of English in and around Norwich and elsewhere in East Anglia. That word is 'dwile'. This comes from the Dutch 'dweil' meaning floorcloth or rag. It is not known when dwile was first used in these varieties of English, but according to the Oxford English Dictionary it was certainly in use by the early nineteenth century. It is best known beyond East Anglia in the combination 'dwile flonking', which represents the best of English eccentricity. This is a game involving a team of players forming a circle and jumping up and down as their opponent stands in the middle using a stick to throw wet dwiles. There is even a world championship, held last year at the Dog Inn, Ludham, Norfolk.

Further reading on Dutch loanwords in English:
Christopher Joby, The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702). Leiden: Brill, 1550.
Nicoline van der Sijs, Cookies, Coleslaw and Stoops. Amsterdam: AUP, 2009.
Peter Trudgill, 'The role of Dutch in the development of East Anglian English,' Taal & Tongval, 65 (1), 2013, pp. 11-22.

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