Thursday, 23 September 2004

Thou’ll hae to corn thy sheep

I have long since stopped minding when Americans comment on my quaint English accent, and I no longer bother to explain to them that I don't have an accent, they do.

Dialect, though, is another matter. I do urge anyone who loves the infinite variety of spoken English to listen to the warm and lovely voice of Jim Wade, a Lancashire sheep farmer recorded in 1953, talking about the techniques of breeding sheep. You will have to listen very carefully to catch his drift, but a glossary and some notes on the quirks of his grammar are provided.

But I should warn those logging on to this marvellous website not to do so unless they have time to spare, for Jim goes on a bit and there are several hundred others beside him in this collection, whose voices cover topics ranging from Killing Pigs in Lowick to Growing Up on Holy Island.

The collection is called Accents and Dialects, part of Collect Britain on the gigantic British Library website. The first time I logged on there was after dinner one evening, and I later had to be told that it was half past two.