I recently attended the National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE) 5th Annual Research Symposium for initial teacher education at the British Library. The symposium was linked with the free exhibition currently showing at the British Library (November 2010 – April 2011) on ‘Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices‘
As part of the exhibition, you can contribute to the voice map with a recording of your own voice. The aim of this part of the site is to capture contemporary voices from around the world and enable linguists to study accents of English and track changes in pronunciation.
The linguist, Prof. David Crystal, is the lead consultant for the exhibition ‘Evolving English’ and he gave a talk at the British Library on ‘The Stories of English’. He talks about the selection of manuscripts and texts for the exhibition. He discusses the way that people used to grow up with an imagined conception of the way that the English language sounded. He comments that it is now possible to reconstruct the way that language sounded so that the history of the language is not just about the written evolution of the language, but also about spoken language. You can listen to his talk as a podcast.
The Annual NATE Conference in February 2011 is linked with the exhibition ‘Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices’. The conference includes workshops on areas that will be of interest to linguists and Prof. David Crystal is one of the keynote speakers. You can access the programme here.
In studying ‘Evolving English’ applied linguists can explore the influences of other languages on English and look at the changes in spellings and pronunciation.