Project Leader(s): K. Corrigan, J. Beal, H. Moisl
This project is based on two separate corpora of recorded speech: * The earlier of the two corpora was gathered during the Tyneside Linguistic Survey (TLS) in the late 1960s, and consists of 86 loosely-structured 30-minute interviews.
The informants were drawn from a stratified random sample of Gateshead in North-East England, and were equally divided among various social class groupings of male and female speakers, with young, middle, and old-aged cohorts. Some transcription and analysis was done on this material at the time, but little of it was published, and work on it languished until 1995, when Joan Beal of DELLS secured funding from the Catherine Cookson Foundation to salvage the original reel-to-reel tapes to audio cassette format and to catalogue and archive the cassettes.
This material is now housed in the Catherine Cookson Archive of Tyneside and Northumbrian Dialect in the Department of English Literary and Linguistic Studies (DELLS), University of Newcastle upon Tyne * The more recent corpus was collected in the Tyneside area in 1994 for an ESRC-funded project ‘Phonological Variation and Change in Contemporary Spoken English’ (PVC). This data is in the form of 18 DAT tapes, each of which averages 60 minutes in length.
Dyads of friends or relatives were encouraged to converse freely with minimal interference from the fieldworker, and informants were again equally divided between various social class groupings of male and female speakers in young, middle, and old-age cohorts. This material is housed in the Department of Speech, University of Newcastle upon Tyne Recently, an AHRB grant was awarded under the Resource Enhancement Scheme to combine the TLS and PVC collections into a single corpus and to make it available to the research community in a variety of formats: digitized sound, phonetic transcription, standard orthographic transcription, and various levels of tagged text, all aligned.
It is expected that this resource will have potential value for:
1. Academics engaged in arts and humanities subjects
(a) Cultural theory; history/geography and gender studies NECTE will be a record of the regional identity of this distinctive conurbation outlined in Barke and Buswell (1992), Beal (1998), Colls and Lancaster (1992), Mess (1928) and Watt (1998). The personal narratives of experience which the resources contain provide, e.g. a wealth of information about local history/geography and cultural values. A comparison of the 1969 and 1994 databases offers a unique insight into the effects of the depopulation, de-industrialization, changing life-styles (especially amongst women) and values which result from the economic and political pressures of the later twentieth century.
(b) Corpus linguistics, dialectology, historical (English) linguistics and English language Research by Britain (1991), Beal (1993), Brown and Miller (1980), Corrigan (2000), Filppula (1999), Tagliamonte (1998), Tagliamonte and Poplack (1988), and Trudgill (1996), inter alia has demonstrated that dialects like ‘Geordie’ can have a more direct relationship with earlier forms of the language. Thus, NECTE preserves subject contact relative constructions which are not extant in the contemporary Standard. Unfortunately, most recent large-scale electronic corpora, such as the British National Corpus described in Aston and Burnard (1998), have focused on collecting samples of the latter making it difficult to trace the development of certain relic grammatical, lexical and phonological variables. While an important corpus of diachronic English - the Helsinki Corpus (c.f. Kytö comp. (1991/1993) and Rissanen (2000)), does exist for this purpose, until Nevalainen and Raumolin-Brunberg’s electronic Corpus of Early English Correspondence is completed, representative samples of vernacular early English are difficult to obtain. The database which we plan would, therefore, permit researchers who are interested in the history of English to measure and document linguistic change with a significantly higher degree of confidence. In addition, dialectologists researching the grammatical, lexical and phonological aspects of indigenous and exogenous English vernaculars would benefit from access to such a sample for comparative purposes when addressing questions relating to:- dialect spread/contact/levelling/convergence/divergence. Most of the data currently available for comparison is culled from dialect dictionaries/surveys such as the Survey of English Dialects (Orton and Halliday (1963)). The latter is now considerably outdated given the economic and social restructuring, increased geographical mobility and the urbanization/regeneration programmes which characterised Britain in the latter half of the twentieth century. These changes have created a trend towards the loss of traditional regional dialects and the rise of, compromise varieties combining relict features, novel local forms and characteristics adopted from supra-local varieties including the Standard accent/dialect. (c.f. Britain (1997), Chambers (1992), Cheshire et al. (1999), Labov (1994), Milroy et al. (1994), Tagliamonte (1997), Watt (1998) and various contributions to Foulkes and Docherty (1999)). (c) Linguistics Critiquing Chomsky (1989), Trudgill and Chambers (1991:295) argue that: "More grammatically sophisticated treatments of non-standard dialects are needed, and so is a more empirically based approach to grammatical theory." A drawback in this enterprise is the fact that most large-scale surveys of non-standard Englishes to date have focused on their lexical and phonological components. Hence, there is very little information on the discourse features and morpho-syntax which characterise such vernaculars. This is problematic as these aspects of non-standard dialects can only be investigated - in the manner which Trudgill and Chambers advocate - by having access to large corpora such as NECTE that are drawn from systematic empirical observations (c.f. Cheshire (1987), Harris (1984), Hudson (1995) and Labov (1973)). Recent research, such as Cornips (1998), Cornips and Corrigan (forthcoming), Corrigan (1997) and (forthcoming), Henry (1995) and Wilson and Henry (1998), suggests that dialect data of this kind can contribute important evidence for resolving issues in core linguistics such as: ‘What is universal in human language?' and 'To what extent do human languages vary?' The availability of NECTE to linguists engaged in assessing and refining such theoretical models of language would permit advances in our understanding of them at the grammatical level which correspond with those obtained for phonological theory from the PVC corpus by Docherty et al. (1997). 2. Academics engaged in sociological and sociolinguistic research The fact that the NECTE corpora contain socially situated speech samples gathered by systematic observation with due regard for the effects of the Observer’s Paradox, makes the resource invaluable to academics engaged in sociology, in general, and sociolinguistic research, in particular (c.f. Labov (1972) and Milroy (1987)). The TLS was an over-ambitious project for its time, and only a fraction of its aims with regard to defining the distribution of linguistic variants "across social attributes" (Pellowe et al. 1972:1). were ever realised. The publications which resulted (with the exception of Pellowe and Jones (1979)) were largely based on phonological aspects of the corpus and focused on methodological issues so that sociolinguistic variation and change in Tyneside in that era remains unexplored. This cannot be said of the 1994 project by Milroy et al. which created the PVC corpus. However, like its predecessor, the primary object of study was the phonological component so that the social trajectories of syntactic variation in the dialect have never been investigated. In this regard, the projected NECTE corpus would be of a sufficient size to permit quantitative analyses of discrete syntactic variables that have been demonstrated to be subject to extralinguistic variation in other English dialects using the ‘apparent-time’ methodology of the Labovian paradigm (c.f. Tagliamonte (1998)). In addition, the conventionalised and electronic nature of the planned database - coupled with its accuracy and the fact that the socio-demographic and geographic characteristics of each corpus are clearly delimited and relatively homogeneous - makes it ideal as a primary source for research into the efficacy of the ‘apparent-time’ method which predominates in the variationist framework. Since NECTE would be both intra-generational and longitudinal in nature and as the fieldwork techniques that were employed in the collection of each corpus are essentially commensurate, it could be used to determine whether any significant correlations observed in ‘apparent-time’ are interpretable as true cases of dialect levelling/convergence/divergence or are simply a reflection of the phenomenon termed ‘age-grading’ (c.f. Hockett (1950)) identified in other ‘real-time’ studies such as that of Trudgill (1988) and (1999). Beal and Corrigan (1999), (2000a) and (2000b) have already conducted a small-scale pilot study of this kind on male and female adolescents which revealed interesting avenues of research with respect to data, theory and methodology that are worth pursuing. The fact that NECTE consists of socially-situated speech samples means that it would also be of benefit as a research tool for linguists interested in conversational and discourse analysis. It could be used, for instance, as a database for the description of discourse marking; turn-taking rights; and personal narratives of experience as demonstrated, for example, in the paper by Local et al. (1986). 3. Educationalists The resource could be used to inform in-service/initial teacher training provision relating to the teaching and assessment of the complex relationship between standard English and non-standard dialects required, e.g. by the National Curriculum in English (c.f. DFE (1995), Honey (1997), (2000), Perera (1994) and Trudgill (1998)). It would also be valuable to curriculum designers: (i) implementing National Curriculum policy regarding standard vs. non-standard varieties (c.f. Milroy and Milroy (1993); Williamson and Hardman (1997)) and (ii) designing TESOL and TEFL courses, particularly those offered to advanced learners of English (c.f. Murison-Bowie (1996)). Likewise, the resource would be a significant teaching and learning tool for students in Further and Higher education in the UK and abroad undertaking English language and linguistics degree programmes (c.f. Barlow (1995), Barnbrook (1996), Biber et al. (1998), Curzan (2000), Kirk (1994), McEnery and Wilson (1996) and Stubbs (1996)). 4. Lay persons The resource would be invaluable to members of the local community who, as bona fide users, were interested in late twentieth century cultural values, regional dialect norms, folklore, and reminiscences about personal and public events in Tyneside and Northumbria.
Dr Hermann Moisl