Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some surprising language links

Sorry about the infrequent posting, everyone - I've been burying myself in transcribing a few of my field recordings. There's plenty of interesting stuff on them: what to sing to encourage locusts to go away, how to make tea the proper Saharan way, tickling rhymes for kids... So naturally today I'll post a potentially linguistically interesting audio link: Library of Congress: American Memory Sound Recordings. This has a bunch of interviews with ex-slaves from the 1930s, which I understand from reading John McWhorter's Defining Creole have revolutionised Creolists' ideas about the history of African-American English. A popular theory had argued that during the era of slavery African-Americans spoke a creole English much like the ones in the Caribbean; these recordings, which show a speech not too different from today, turned out to pose a severe challenge to this view. It also has an Omaha pow-wow and late 1930's Californian folk music in a surprising number of languages, including Armenian, Finnish, and Gaelic. Look around.

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