Voices from WWI speak again in British Library
November 11, 2009 8:04 AM   Subscribe

"It is the business of educated people to speak so that no-one may be able to tell in what county their childhood was passed." Despite efforts by Victorians to eradicate them, dialects of English in Great Britain continue to vary greatly, much to the consternation of many traditionalists. But a recently acquired archive is giving new insight into old dialects--some of which no longer exist. Recorded in a WWI prisoner of war camp on shellac disks, the archive was part of an effort by German linguists to study regional variation in the English language. A report by PRI's The World includes a brief synopsis--and a powerful rendition of a beloved Scottish ballad by a homesick soldier.
posted by jefficator (10 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Archives! Yay! Once again, it's wonderful to see the power of unique things preserved and made available to other people. Thanks for the post.
posted by elder18 at 8:09 AM on November 11, 2009

Nae mair will our bonnie callants
Merch tae war whan our braggarts crousely craw
Nor wee weans frae pitheid an clachan
Murn the ships sailin doun the Broomielaw
Broken faimilies in launs we've hairriet
Will curse 'Scotlan the Brave' nae mair, nae mair
Black an white ane-til-ither mairriet
Mak the vile barracks o thair maisters bare

Sae come aa ye at hame wi freedom...
posted by Abiezer at 8:31 AM on November 11, 2009

I made a post about this same archive in 2007, but yours is better.
posted by anastasiav at 8:32 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I wish your video were still available. Could you try to find it again and post it here?
posted by jefficator at 8:36 AM on November 11, 2009

This is a double, I'm pretty sure. There was actually a BBC video about this, that had been linked before.
posted by delmoi at 8:44 AM on November 11, 2009

This is a double, I'm pretty sure.

Oh, for fecks-- it's tree yars agee, almoos, man, let it be, so!

I compiled that sentence out of various regional pronunciations.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:17 AM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Great post!
posted by hamida2242 at 6:59 PM on November 11, 2009

Semi-related, does anyone have anything similar for Chinese dialects or basically anything good on Chinese regionalism?
posted by hamida2242 at 7:01 PM on November 11, 2009

There's this (funide Christian missionary) resource with snatches of various languages spoken in China, both Sinitic (Chinese) and non-Chinese ('national minority').
posted by Abiezer at 7:09 PM on November 11, 2009

I live this every day since moving to Birmingham UK 5 years ago. I've noticed that English people typically say everything a couple of times and I figure roughly about half of what I say is variations of "pardon me?", "what?" and "sorry?".

Accents and dialects might seem like fun until you have to say to someone who nominally speaks the same language as you that you simply cannot understand them. Then it is pretty uncomfortable.
posted by srboisvert at 1:16 PM on November 12, 2009

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