The rich North East accent of Arthur Roper rolls down the years as he reads the Biblical Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Remarkably, the recording was made in 1916 in a prisoner of war camp in Germany , where 22-year-old soldier Arthur and two other North Easterners were a captive audience for a study by a Berlin professor into different styles of speech across various countries.
These are the earliest known collection of sound recordings of ordinary speakers and today, through digitisation, we can listen to Arthur – who spent his first six years in Durham and then moved to Newcastle - peppering his rendition with words such as “fatha” and “hyem.”
The PoW recordings will feature in a free talk on Saturday in Morpeth Town Hall by Jonnie Robinson, lead curator of spoken English at the British Library and responsible for its extensive archive of sound recordings of British accents and dialects.
Jonnie’s 2pm talk, “Sounds Familiar? North East Voices in the British Library Sound Archives”, is one of two in the Northumbrian Language Society’s 2017 Roland Bibby memorial lectures event in the town hall in Morpeth Market Place.
The other, at 3.30pm, is The Forgotten Years: WWII Experiences in the Forgotten Army in Burma, by Ian Wilson, 9th Border Regiment researcher.
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