Wednesday, February 11, 2004


One thing about a 7:00 a.m. appointment to get a β-hCG test is that the alarm goes off early. Which also means catching some of "World Update" from the BBC World Service.

This morning, the story that the radio awoke us with was about the British Library's new Collect Britain website, and specifically the collection of English Accents and Dialects. The site features audio clips from the "Survey of English Dialects" and the "Millennium Memory Bank," capturing regional variation in English language.

There are 131 soundclips in the collection, and each includes a brief lexis to define bits of vocabulary, as well as notes/examples about the phonology and grammar of the speaker/dialect.

The other interesting thing is that many of the records (primarily those collected from 1950 to 1961 as part of the "Survey of English Dialects") are with rural folk, often farmers, so the recordings are about various farm tasks replete with specific vocabulary. There quite a few that discuss cutting hay by hand.

Also the Northumbrian clips in the collection are interesting to see the dialect continuum connecting English to Scots. For example, the 1955 interview with George Sparks of Allendale, Northumberland, mixes in bits of Scots terminology with his English (stirk, young bullock; fog, grass grown for hay and as a winter cover for a field).

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