V is for Voices of the Past

Can you recall the voices of your immediate ancestors? Do you know what the dialect sounded like in your local area? I touched on this in ‘Q is for quotes’ but this is more about the sound, rather than the actual words used. Many of us have recording done in the mid-twentieth century. These may be on cine-films, reel to reel tapes or cassette. There are gadgets that you can buy to convert cassette recordings to computer files and there are companies that will translate obsolete formats to disc. This can be expensive but is worth doing. If you are interested in the history of a locality, capture regional accents before they are eroded. Seek out old recordings from film archives and those in private hands but also record the accents of today – and given modern levels of migration and immigration, there may be a great many in your area. scan0001When my mother died I found a ‘Forces War Record’, recorded for her by my father in 1946. As my father died when I was nine I had no real recollection of how he sounded. I was able to get this recording put on to disc, just before it deteriorated beyond saving. He was sending my mother birthday greetings. He had got the date wrong but they hadn’t know each other long at this point! His Battersea roots are not noticeable in his accent, which was distinctly BBC – probably a legacy of his career as a cinema projectionist – all those clipped tones of the film stars of the 1930s! If you have recordings please try to preserve these while it is still possible – you will not regret it.

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One comment on “V is for Voices of the Past

  1. Birgit says:

    I have a tape cassette of my dad and mom talking. my dad died in 1988 and when I listen to it I am surprised by his Ottawa accent. he would pronounce the letter “H” as hitch. I want to get this on a cd and preserve this as well as I also have my grandparents talking in German.

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