In the Norfolk dialect, which I learned at my mother's and grandmother's knee, the word 'together'(pronounced 'tergatha') is used in an additional sense. If there are two people outside I might say 'Come in here, together'. Or if I have company I might ask 'Would you like a cup of tea, together'. I am not asking that they enter the house simultaneously or that they speak in unison, I am just making it clear that I am addressing everyone. If one grows up in Norfolk and leaves the county one notices the need for this form, which no one else in Britain recognises. I am told that a similar expression is available in some Scandinavian languages, perhaps indicating Norfolk's special connection with the Vikings. I think it may also exist in German. Can anyone supply any information please?


If it’s any help, the OED’s definition 2e of together confirms this use. Its earliest citation is from the first part of the nineteenth century. This subsequent citation from J G Nall’s book ‘Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft’ of 1866 suggests that it may have had a singular form:

It has been wittily observed, that . . . ‘together’ is [the] plural [of ‘bor’][a single person, male or female, being addressed as bor or ‘bo’, two or more persons as ‘together’].

  • And Great Yarmouth is in Norfolk, with Lowestoft some 10 miles down the coast in the neighbouring Suffolk. – Hugo Oct 14 '13 at 11:35
  • Thank you for that. I've never thought of it as the plural of 'bor' but I guess it amounts to that since 'bor', a corruption of 'boy' and with links to the Dutch 'boer', does not otherwise have a plural in Norfolk. Though Lowestoft is in Suffolk, according to Trudgill the town uses the Norfolk dialect. You have to go as far as Halesworth before the Suffolk dialect rules. The separation line interestingly is also coincidental with the dividing line between Norwich City supporters and Ipswich Town fans. It has something to do with ease of access respectively to Norwich and Ipswich (re Trudgill). – WS2 Oct 14 '13 at 12:30

The Scandinavian word for ‘together’ (Danish and Norwegian sammen, Swedish samman or tillsammans, Icelandic and Faeroese saman) can function in that way to a limited degree.

If I’m understanding your examples correctly, the sense is really ‘together with us’ or ‘along with us’, which does work in Scandinavian languages—sometimes.

Would you like a cup of tea, together ≈ (Da/No) Vil du have/ha en kop/kopp te sammen? / (Sw) Vill du ha en kopp te tillsammans?
Come in here, together ≠ (Da/No) †Kom herind/inn her sammen. / (Sw) †Kom in här tillsammans.

The first works okay (but would sound more natural, as in non-Norfolk English, if phrased like “Should we get a cup of tea together?” vel sim), but the second is quite impossible in the sense intended: it would unambiguously be understood as asking multiple people to enter the room in unison.

A perhaps somewhat related concept is the Insular Scandinavian (i.e., Icelandic and Faeroese, but not Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish) ability to use a plural pronoun + a name (or similar noun phrase) to express that the plural pronoun refers to the person indicated by the pronoun’s number plus the name/noun phrase mentioned:

(Ic) Við Jón hreinsuðum til í húsinu. = We John tidied up the house. = We [=John and I] tidied up the house.

This is not possible in any other language that I know, but seems to be a related phenomenon.


If that is a misreading of how the word is used in Norfolk English, and you mean that ‘together’ is simply used as a kind of vocative to refer to more than one person (similar to how American English would use ‘you guys’), then the parallel to Scandinavian is less straightforward.

All the Scandinavian languages can optionally add ‘together’ to the word for ‘all’, either singular or plural (neuter singular: Da/No alt, Sw allt, Ic allt / plural [masculine]: Da/No alle, Sw alla, Ic/Fae allir) to make a lexeme that simply means ‘everything’ (singular) or ‘everybody’ (plural)[*]. But this isn’t particularly vocative, and it isn’t really too different from ‘all together’ in English, only more lexemic.


I’ll leave the German links to someone more versed in that tongue than I am.

[*] The more common word in Swedish is alltihop (singular) / allihop (plural), which is basically identical: ihop (etymologically from i hop ‘in (a) group’) is just a different word for ‘together’ that’s only used in Swedish and sometimes in Icelandic (and Faeroese?). Allir í hópi is also quite common in Icelandic, though not (as in Swedish) more common than allir saman.

  • 1
    I think the Norfolk together is a bit like American y'all. Nall's Glossary of East Anglian Dialect (2006): "In very common use, addressed to a number of persons, e.g., 'Well, how are ye all together?'" / The Song of Solomon in the Norfolk Dialect (1860): “Together,” is used as a pronoun of multitude, always in the vocative ; e.g. “ Here's a nice harvest day, together !" would be a salntation to a company of mowers. – Hugo Oct 14 '13 at 11:50
  • @Hugo, see, in the first of those examples, where ‘together’ modifies the pronoun, the Scandinavian parallel works. Alle( )sammen (Da/No) / alla samman (Sw) / allir saman (Ic/Fae) is very natural in that phrase. In the latter, though, where ‘together’ is used pronominally on its own, the Scandiwegians come up short. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 14 '13 at 11:58
  • Thank you for your comprehensive and interesting answer. I would have to agree that the Norfolk sense is a bit like the American 'you guys'. It strikes the same companionable note in a gathering of people. – WS2 Oct 14 '13 at 12:39
  • @Hugo. thank you for the references to those two works. Apart from Trudgill's book, and the fact that I grew up speaking it, I have done little research on the dialect. Though when researching late-18th century Norwich politics I did find one reference made by some smart Londoners about the less than pretty way they spoke in Norfolk. That was of course when gentry spoke dialect. – WS2 Oct 14 '13 at 12:52

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