Last month was a pretty big month for me, research-wise, mostly down to an event I ran in conjunction with the Exmoor Society in Dulverton, the Exmoor Language Garden.
Based in most part on the Dublin Language Garden, now in its second year, which I devised and ran along with fellow early-career linguists at Trinity College Dublin, the Exmoor Language Garden was a slightly different event. Where at the DLG our audience is mostly comprised of young families and features presentations and activities all devised by linguistics researchers, the Exmoor Language Garden took a different tack, focussing on the relationship between the landscape and the local dialect. We (by which I mean my co-organiser Dr. Helen Blackman from the Exmoor Society and I) worked hard to create a mixed bag of presentations and talks that would entertain as well as inform about language. And I think we pulled it off!
Local folk musicians, Tom and Barbara Brown performed songs and music and discussed the linguistic reasoning behind the lyrics. Local retired farmer Tony Takle recited a dialect poem which was preceded by a talk from Steven Pugsley about what some of the words in the poem mean. And finally Victoria Eveleigh, local children’s author, gave a talk about her writing process when writing books based on Exmoor. But before all that, Helen and I spoke about the Exmoor Archives and the different between a dialect and a language respectively.
But why am I telling you about this? Well, aside from being rather a successful event, it marked the end of one phase of my PhD, and the beginning of another. The day after this event, I began the first of my 300+ interviews, a phase which will probably take me around 2 years to complete in order to cover the whole of Somerset. It’s no mean feat! Which is where you can help. If you live in Somerset (at this stage, specifically the Exmoor area) and would like to take part in some Live research into language change in Somerset, why not head over to the ‘Take Part!‘ page and sign up to find out more! I’d be ever so grateful.