19 May 2009

Speaking English, I Think

To the left is a map of English accents collected in the online audio collection of the British Library. If you don't have a copy of the Redwall full-cast audiobooks on hand, then this website is a fine way to enjoy a wide range of English speech modes.

Some of these recordings were made in the 1950s, others for the millennium. That can make for interesting contrasts, as between this London woman describing her experiences as a teen-aged domestic servant in the 1930s, and this fifteen-year-old from East Yorkshire describing her life in 1999.

But most of the tapes, and the most baffling, are old provincial men talking about vanished ways of life. Here are recollections of working as a pageboy at a manor house in Yorkshire, running errands in Lancashire, and doing something that sounds dreadful with straw in Buckinghamshire. Most the interviewees seem to agree that young people today wouldn't understand their experiences. Heck, I barely understand their words.

(Thanks to Northwest History for the link.)

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