Talkin' Tar Heel: How Our Voices Tell the Story of North Carolina

Talkin' Tar Heel: How Our Voices Tell the Story of North Carolina

Talkin' Tar Heel: How Our Voices Tell the Story of North Carolina

Talkin' Tar Heel: How Our Voices Tell the Story of North Carolina

Excerpt

Linguists usually write books about particular languages or dialects, not about language diversity within a political state. But there are also few states that showcase regional, ethnic, and social diversity of language more stylishly than the Tar Heel State. In many respects, North Carolina is a microcosm of the vast range of language differences that have developed over time and space in the United States. After more than two decades of interviewing and recording thousands of residents and shooting hundreds of hours of video footage, we feel that we would be remiss if we did not share the rich assortment of North Carolina voices with a broader audience.

Under the rubric of the North Carolina Language and Life Project (NCLLP), we have undertaken the challenge of describing the dialects and languages of North Carolina. The NCLLP is a unique, language-based program at North Carolina State University that focuses on research and outreach programs related to language in North Carolina. Its goals are: (1) to gather basic research information about language varieties in order to understand the nature of language variation and change; (2) to document language varieties in North Carolina and beyond as they reflect the varied cultural traditions of their residents; (3) to provide information about language differences for public and educational interests; and (4) to use research material for the improvement of educational programs about language and culture.

Since the NCLLP’s inception in 1993, its staff has been conducting sociolinguistic interviews with residents in North Carolina that connect language, culture, and history. Discussions typically cover a wide range of topics, from history and remembrances to current livelihood and lifestyle changes. All of the interviews are archived on a website hosted by the library at North Carolina State University, the Sociolinguistic Archive and Analysis Project (http://ncslaap.lib.ncsu.edu). This interactive, Web-based archive of sociolinguistic recordings integrates with annotation features and technical analysis tools. It is an ongoing, constantly growing archive that contains (as of September 2013) over 6,000 audio files, 3,200 hours of audio, 100 hours of . . .

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