14 September 2016

The Sound of Ancestors

Do you know the accent or dialect of any of your ancestors?  If you think they spoke English, have you explored the International Dialects of English Archive?

My paternal grandfather grew up in Devon after spending his earliest years in Northern Ireland.  I have been listening to an accent possibly a bit like his.

However, most of the dialects I have heard through the dialects archive do not seem to be particularly local.  During the 20th century, many people moved from one place to another for various reasons, taking their speech patterns with them.

Radio and television and education have probably shaped ways of speaking, too. My ancestors, and those of my husband, are known to have moved from place to place over time, as I have myself.  We have mixed with people from other places too.

The accents of children change as they interact through school and with the media.  I know my own accent has certainly changed over time.  Has yours?

How did the use of language by your grandparents differ from each other, and from your parents and their siblings, and from your own way of expressing yourself?

How does your current voice fit into the history of spoken English?

Has anyone in your family ever had a Shropshire dialect?

With so many people still moving from one place to another, for various reasons, how do accents, and changes in accent, shape a sense of identity?

This is a topic for my By Any Other Name blog, especially in the name of culture.

What other sorts of sounds did your ancestors often hear?  What was the soundscape of their lives?

If you are fortunate enough to be able to hear, how did the sounds heard by your ancestors differ from the sounds you usually notice in your daily life?

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I especially appreciate historical insights.