Friday, March 24, 2006

No jokes about tractors or turkeys, please

The Norfolk dialect is set to be taught in schools in an attempt to restore its status in the region and make its users more aware of their cultural heritage. A report in yesterday's Guardian tells us that funding has been given to a project which will "create exhibitions, performance pieces and dialect recordings to "reclaim" cultural heritage in Norfolk".

As the report says, the local dialect has been ridiculed by "urban" types (as in the old sense of the word "urban" not the more recent one) and looked down upon for generations.

It's an interesting attempt to halt dialect levelling, but will it work and does it have any precedents in other parts of the country or abroad? A quick look at the BBC Voices project reveals that local dialect is alive and well in many parts of the country, but - many argue - it's dying out among younger speakers and morphing into new multi-ethnic youth dialects or super-regional dialects.

Paul Kerswill of Lancaster University, and his team of researchers (including Sue Fox who'll be at our SFX Language Conference) have been looking at exactly this sort of language change and their findings are awaited with interest.

Useful for:
ENA5 - Language Varieties and Change

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