Professor of English Language
I have been involved in researching the Black Country accent and dialect, along with other linguistic varieties in the West Midlands, for over fifteen years. I have been struck by the negative perceptions people have of the Black Country accent and dialect, both form within and beyond the region. This perception has nothing to do with the linguistics of the dialect, and more to do with assumptions and prejudices. I am particularly interested in the ways in which linguistic variation is being used increasingly to mark allegiance to a regional place such as the Black Country, even where people may live in other parts of the world. I teach courses on Variations of English and Language and identities at Aston, and before that, at the University of Wolverhampton.
I am the project’s Heritage Partner. This has involved advising the project members on the history of the Black Country dialect.
Geoffrey Shepherd Professor of Medieval English
I am a specialist in medieval English language and literature. I am particularly interested in medieval manuscripts, especially those containing West Midlands English. My publications include the online catalogue Manuscripts of the West Midlands and an edition of the Vernon Manuscript and related items. I teach in the Department of English Literature at the University of Birmingham.
I am a member of the Steering Group for the project ‘If yow cor understond this it’ll gerron yower wick ‘: Heritage of Black Country Dialect. I supported the apprentices’ investigation of the history of Black Country Dialect by running a workshop ‘Discovering Black Country English in British Library Manuscripts’ at the British Library in London. Bringing together my expertise on medieval manuscripts with the participants’ expert knowledge of West Midlands dialect, my workshop soon had the apprentices decoding the scribes’ handwriting and reading aloud from the manuscripts, recreating as nearly as possible how the medieval texts might have sounded to their original medieval audiences. I also gave an interview on medieval manuscripts and dialect to Jonny Cole and provided feedback on the project and its outputs.
Lead Curator, Spoken English, British Library Sound Archive
I am a dialectologist with a particular interest in British accents and dialects. I have worked on two nationwide surveys of regional speech, the Survey of English Dialects and BBC Voices, and co-curated the British Library exhibition Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices.
As an advisor to the project I co-organised a workshop to introduce participants to West Midlands dialect content held at the British Library.
I have worked in Community Arts for 40 years. I worked in print, photography, television and finally on the development of The Public in West Bromwich. While at The Public I started working with LearnPlay apprentices on exhibition installation. I also commissioned LearnPlay apprentices to create a project called Legends for display in the gallery. This was a PlayStation compatible story of the local history of the Black country.
I am on the Steering Committee of the Accents project and comment on the development of the project.
Dr Brian Dakin
Visiting Research Fellow
I see myself with two persona’ although they often merge as one and inform each other. Dr Brian Dakin works on various community projects such as Where’s Our Spake Gone?. I give talks and presentations to a diverse group of audiences from children of all ages , students and local history groups. I write columns for the local newspaper The Bugle, The Black Countryman and Connections while releasing cds and books based on my performances as Billy Spakemon. Oral history and identity through voice are central to both academic and performance work and to this end I organise events to showcase local talent and present the Omma N Chain for Black Country Radio. I have a World War 1 project with pupils at St Michaels in Rowley and two more CDs ready to be recorded early 2016. I am in the process of discussing a series of documentaries for the Radio station that will cover such subjects as Duncan Edwards, Dementia (as I work with Sandwell Community Care Trust) among others. My life, growing up in Oldbury is central to everything i do and i continue to discover myself through my journey through research, song and stories.