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£120k for research project on dialects

Sandwell | News | Published:

Two major research projects to investigate Black Country and Birmingham dialects are being launched by Aston University.

Two major research projects to investigate Black Country and Birmingham dialects are being launched by Aston University.

The £120,000 projects are the first of their kind to look at the ways in which people in the region engage with and use dialects. Researchers will document and investigate the way that people speak in Birmingham and the Black Country through the analysis of imaginative performance texts such as poetry, comedy and live music.

One of the first recordings will take place at a weekly comedy night at The Hollybush in Cradley Heath tomorrow.

One of the project's managers is Dr Esther Asprey who completed a PhD in Black Country English and Black Country Identity.

Dr Asprey, said: "We will be recording live performance events ranging from comedy gigs, live music events and poetry readings, and interviewing the performers and four members of the audience at each event.

"We are also collecting archive data relating to written performance and literary texts produced since 1900. We would like our research to contribute to a current debate in regional dialect research which is looking at how factors such as social class, gender, race and ethnicity may be resources that speakers actively draw upon to create unique voices, rather than determinants of how they speak and write."

With her will be Dr Urszula Clark, deputy director for the Aston Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Language and Diversity, and performance poet and musician Brian Dakin, from Tower Road, Tividale, who is working on a PhD on dialect and social history.

The results of the research will be made available through public lectures, the Black Country Society and a website called West Midlands English: Speech and Society.

Historian and Express & Star columnist Professor Carl Chinn said he fully supported the project.

"It is about who we. The Irish in the west of Ireland who speak Gaelic have a saying 'a people who lose their language lose their soul'. If we lose our language we become clones of everybody else with no distinction, no colour and no variety."

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