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Janner is an English regional nickname associated with Plymouth both as a noun and as an adjective for the local accent and colloquialisms. In 1987 Cyril Tawney, in his book Grey Funnel Lines, described its meaning as "a person from Devon", deriving from Cousin Jan (the Devon form of John), but "more particularly in naval circles anyone from the Plymouth area".[1]

'Alf a pound of flour and lard,
Makes a lovely clacker,
Just enough for you and me,
Oh Brother Janner,
Oh 'ow 'appy uz shall be!,
When uz gets to the Westcountry!,
Whur the oggies grows on trees,
Oh Brother Janner.

—A version of an Oggie Song from Devonport, c. 1951.[2]

With the changes in the local economy in Plymouth over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, from the Royal Navy being the major employer to being a university city housing a large number of students from outside the city, the term has developed an additional secondary pejorative sense describing the locals.[citation needed]

The Member of Parliament for Plymouth, Devonport, Alison Seabeck, showed her ignorance of the term in 2005 when, while still a candidate, she was asked by the local paper: "What is a Janner?" The Express on Sunday reported her reply:

The flustered candidate wailed: "I don't know. You're not going to print this, are you?" Unfortunately they did. The answer is a "Plymothian".[3]

For many years there was a cartoon in the Plymouth Evening Herald entitled 'The Janners'. Many pamphlets circulate with mischievous amusing and sometimes erotic anthologies and there are short dictionaries of Janner vocabulary, e.g. the Janner TextBook.[4]

The term features in the football team Plymouth Argyle supporters' chants, particularly its variant on the folksong Oggy Land,[5] and in 2010 it was used in a television advertisement for Aviva Car Insurance in which Paul Whitehouse as a Plymouth Argyle supporter driving to an away match exhorts a potential passenger to "get on you janner".[6][7] In April 2012 a new rugby league trophy called the Barum Janner cup was introduced for competition matches between Barnstaple's North Devon Raiders and the Plymouth Titans. The cup's name is a combination of the nicknames for inhabitants of the two places.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Grey Funnel Lines: Traditional Song & Verse of the Royal Navy, 1900-1970, Cyril Tawney, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987 ISBN 978-0-7102-1270-2
  2. ^
  3. ^ Hartley-Brewer, Julia (2005-04-17). "Cross Bencher". The Express on Sunday.
  4. ^ This example is at "Plymouth (the janner textbook)". Chavtowns. Archived from the original on 2013-03-16. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
  5. ^ 151 Plymouth chants Archived 2009-08-21 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Janner reference in television advertisement for Aviva Car Insurance via YouTube
  7. ^ Ryder, Lee (4 January 2010), "Insurance Policy Fails to Pay off; United Facing Unwanted Replay after Reshuffle: Results in FA Cup Stalemate at Home Park", Evening Chronicle, Newcastle, England, p. 46 – via Questia (subscription required)
  8. ^ Fillingham, Keith (25 April 2012). "Barum Janner Cup Launched". North Devon Raiders. Retrieved 2013-02-23.