Questions & Answers

What is the Dialect and Heritage Project?

The Dialect and Heritage Project is a National Lottery Heritage-funded initiative based at the University of Leeds. It aims to open up the extensive Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture to the public and carry out new cutting-edge dialect research by recording dialects and memories from present-day communities. You can learn more about the project here.

What was the Survey of English Dialects?

The Survey of English Dialects was a survey of people from more than 300 different towns and villages, undertaken by researchers from the University of Leeds during the 1950s and 60s. It intended to make a permanent record of English dialects as they were spoken at the time for use in research on English dialects of the past and future. You can learn more about the original Survey of English Dialects here.

I am deaf or hard of hearing – can I have access to a transcript of the sound recordings?

If you would like access to a transcript of one of our sound recordings, please email us with the full name of the sound recording as it is given in the description and we will aim to respond within 10 days. We are hoping that transcripts for all of our sound recordings will be available online soon.

I can’t understand the dialect recordings on your site – can I have access to a transcript?

If you would like access to a transcript of one of our sound recordings, please email us with the full name of the sound recording as it is given in the description and we will aim to respond within 10 days. We are hoping that transcripts for all of our sound recordings will be available online soon.

What is dialect?

Dialects are unique sets of sounds, words, phrases, and grammatical structures that combine to make up our distinctive ways of speaking.  English varies in these different ways from country to country, county to county, and even village to village. You can learn more about what dialect is here.

What is the difference between language and dialect?

Dialect involves three main ingredients – pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar – and these can vary hugely according to where you’re from. Taken together, these ingredients combine in distinctive ways to form dialects: different, yet equally valid varieties of the same language. The line between language and dialect is often blurry, though! You can learn more about what dialect is here.

Is dialect ‘bad English’?

No! All dialects are equally valid and have developed alongside each other over the course of English’s long history. The English language has varied from the time when it first developed, and has been changing ever since, absorbing influences from many different sources over time. You can learn more about what dialect is here.

What do you have in the LAVC from my area?

Our Sound Map has sound recordings from the original Survey of English Dialects that cover the length and breadth of the country. You can search for your area on the map, or you can visit one of our regional content packages  to discover content from your region. You can also search the LAVC directly through the University of Leeds Special Collections here.

How do I search the Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture?

Watch our handy video tutorial on how to search the Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture through the University of Leeds Special Collections here.

How can I get involved in the project?

We’d love for you to get involved! You can complete our new full survey or one of our mini surveys, contribute to our Soundscape or tell us about an interesting dialect word, or you can volunteer as part of the project. Anyone can take part, and you can find out how to get involved here.

I have an interesting dialect word – how can I share it with you?

We want to know what dialect words you use! You can tell us about your interesting dialect words here.

How can I find out about Dialect and Heritage Project events?

There are lots of ways to keep up-to-date with what we’re doing as part of the project! You can join our mailing list here, follow our Instagram or Twitter, and check out the events pages of our Partner Museums to find out what we’re running!

Do you need volunteers?

Yes please! You can find out how to volunteer on the project here.

Will you be at a museum in my area?

We are partnered with five partner museums across the country with whom we are running a programme of events. These are Avoncroft Museum in Worcestershire, the Dales Countryside Museum in North Yorkshire, The Food Museum in Suffolk, the Ryedale Folk Museum in the North York Moors National Park and the Weald and Downland Living Museum in West Sussex.

However, you can still take part in the project even if we aren’t visiting a museum near you! Find out how to get involved here.

What happens to my words when I add them to the survey?

Your dialect words will contribute to the project’s ongoing dialect research, which will be shared with our museum partners, used in future publications and in online project materials, and feature in educational resources and public engagement activities created by the project.

How can I keep up to date with the project?

There are lots of ways to keep up-to-date with what we’re doing as part of the project! You can join our mailing list here, follow our Instagram or Twitter, and check out the events pages of our Partner Museums to find out what we’re running!

English isn’t my first language. Can I still take part?

Yes, absolutely. Whoever you are and wherever you come from, we would love to hear from you.

 

I don’t come from England. Can I still take part?

Yes! The original Survey of English Dialects focused on people from rural England, but this time we want to hear from everyone.