Two Bits on Early Dialect Recordings

During the 1920s and 1930s, two dialect recording collections were made by researchers in the United States. Both were recorded using gramophone technology. The first, by Cabell Greet and Harry Ayers, was made in the late 1920s and collected as the Columbia Records Dialects collection. The second, by Miles Hanley, was collected by Hanley in conjunction with the Linguistic Atlas of New England. Typically referred to as the “Hanley Collection” in later discussion, this collection features several hundred recordings.

The two short pieces, published in 1936 and both appearing in the Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, discuss both of these collections when they were still both relatively new and relatively novel. Kenyon’s, on the Columbia recordings, provides some discussion of the vowel variation patterns he was able to note among speakers in them. Hanley’s, on the materials in the LANE collection, presents a technical discussion of what recording “sessions” for field work in the 1930s were like from the perspective of types of equipment and recording materials available and types of equipment and recording materials actually used.

Hanley, Miles. 1936. Phonographic recording. In Daniel Jones and D. B. Fry, Eds., Proceedings of the Second International Congress of the Phonetic Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 75-82. http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/AWAC/Hanley_1936.pdf

Kenyon, J. S. 1936. Phonographic records of American Dialects. In Daniel Jones and D. B. Fry, Eds., Proceedings of the Second International Congress of the Phonetic Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 278-281.http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/AWAC/Kenyon_1936.pdf

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About daviddurian
I am a sociolinguist with a Ph D in Linguistics from The Ohio State University. Currently, I work as the Lecturer at Rice University, where I teach undergraduate courses in both sociolinguistics and general linguistics. I also work on research projects investing language variation and change in US English a variety of cities. Specifically, at the moment, this includes Houston, Chicago, and Columbus, OH.

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