Ikea bunnyYou say lonGer, I say longer

Monday, 27th December 2005, page 2 0f 2

Kackel, an Ikea dragonKACKEL (left) AND KANIN represent the latest Viking invasion of Britain: they're stuffed toys from Ikea, but Norsemen have also left a legacy in place names and in our speech.

At this evening's family party, during a conversation about declining standards in speech, my brother-in-law Carl (there's an Old Norse name: karl means man, male or freeman) says to me:

'You always say “longer” instead of “lonGer”, I'm not saying you're wrong but it just doesn't sound right to me.'

Hah! Well, we no longer settle these disputes with holmanags (a Viking duel on an islet) or blood feuds but, just so you know what we're going about, I've tried to pronounce the two versions, press each word to hear the pronunciation:


I'd describe the difference as a soft 'g' in my version, a hard 'g' in Carl's. My brother Bill, who lived near Wigan for a while, tells me that this is the Lancashire pronunciation. Carl's family tree research has repeatedly taken him to Wigan and I sofawonder if this is why the hard 'g' seems the correct pronunciation to him. He probably grew up with it. My parents were brought up in Sheffield, south Yorkshire. To my ears the Yorkshire accent is a bit softer than the Lancashire.

It probably goes right back to the Viking invasions: the Danes raided Yorkshire, naturally enough, from the east in 875, while the later Norse settlement of Lancashire came from the west - part of the colonisation that took in Orkney, Shetland, Iceland, the Isle of Man and Ireland.

I wonder if 'g' is still pronounced more softly in Denmark than in Norway.

Barbara's mum's sofa (right) is also from Ikea.

Dry Brush

skyBenI'm finding that working with a waterbrush seems increasingly frustrating. It's difficult, after squeezing a drop of water out of the brush, not to end up with every bit of watercolour you pick up from your palette being sucked back into the bristles as the pressure equalises. I find myself dabbing at the paper uselessly, with a dry brush.

I didn't really succeed in getting my brush flowing before the clouds moved and the late afternoon light failed.

Izzy and GeorgeSome more party people . . .

Izzy (left) and Ben. Next Page


Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk