[78-L] Audio Restoration saves family recording

Kristjan Saag saag at telia.com
Fri May 13 06:15:02 PDT 2011

Home recording are also of great scientific value.
I stumbled upon some "home recordings" made in Stockholm and Gothenburg 
(Sweden) in the late 1930's and was stuck by how "modern" the language 
was, compared to our general notion of the 1930's language. One 
recording was made in a recording booth at a fun fair and, at one point, 
the party assembled started to parody a radio broadcast. That 
immediately changed their way of speaking, becoming more typical for how 
we perceive the 1930's idiom today.
Which made me wonder: how well is everyday speech documented by our 
language scientists? I decided to get in touch with he Institute for 
Language and Folklore at Uppsala University in Sweden, who is managing 
the collection of field recordings of dialects. It appeared that most of 
these dialect recordings were made in the early years of the 20th 
century, but mainly in rural areas, especially in areas where dialects 
were in danger to disappear. City dialects were of minor interest, at 
the time, and are poorly covered.
The conclusion was: our notion of urban language from days gone by seems 
to be based mainly on recordings where the recording situation was 
arranged: broadcasts, movies, spoken word recordings - there are few 
documented examples of authentic, relaxed everyday conversation. And, at 
least in Sweden, the home recordings on lacquers, wire and tape have yet 
to collected for scientific purposes. Our National Library of Sound is 
only responsible for collecting commercial recordings and broadcast 
material. The few home recordings they have registered are discs that 
have been donated by private persons (often found in larger collections 
of 78's). And the Language departments in Universities haven't got time 
to search thrift stores for new research material.
The British National Sound Library seems to have a more flexible policy 
towards this type of recordings - I wonder how it is in other countries.

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