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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A Question about Essex Dialect

Dear Essex Society for Archaeology and History,

My name is Stephen Howe. I am an associate professor at a university in Japan but was born in East Anglia (in the Isle of Ely).

In spring, I gave a talk at Cambridge University on the words 'jearse' and 'dow' - emphatic words for 'yes' and 'no' - used in the Isle of Ely and some other parts of East Anglia. These words are not included in the Oxford English Dictionary; however, we still use ‘jearse’ and ‘dow’ in the Isle of Ely today.

I wonder whether it might be possible to ask you whether people in Essex know and use these words? I would be very interested to see how widespread they still are and how they are used. I am writing a book chapter on 'jearse' and 'dow' to be published next year.

If you are interested, I would like to know these questions:
- Do you say 'jearse' and 'dow'?
- How do you use them?
- Where do you live?

I have set up a web page where people can fill in information on 'jearse' and 'dow', if they wish. The page is at

I would be most grateful for any information you could give.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Howe


I have not encountered these terms myself and they are not recorded in Gepp's Essex Dialect Dictionary.  I shall post the web page on our Twitter account.

John Hayward, Secretary, ESAH

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