SCUA

Linguistic Atlas of New England

Linguistic Atlas of New England Records, 1931-1972.

40 boxes (19.75 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 330

The Linguistic Atlas of New England project, begun in 1889 and published 1939-1943, documented two major dialect areas of New England, which are related to the history of the settling and dispersal of European settlers in New England with successive waves of immigration.

The collection contains handwritten transcription sheets (carbon copies) in the International Phonetic Alphabet, with some explanatory comments in longhand. Drawn from over 400 interviews conducted by linguists in communities throughout New England in the 1930s, these records document the geographic distribution of variant pronunciations and usages of spoken English. The material, taken from fieldworkers’ notebooks (1931-1933), is arranged by community, then by informant, and also includes audiotapes of follow-up interviews (1934); phonological analyses of informants’ speech; character sketches of informants by fieldworkers; fieldworkers’ blank notebook; and mimeograph word index to the atlas (1948).

Historical Note

The Linguistic Atlas of New England project, begun in 1889 and published 1939-1943, documented two major dialect areas of New England, which are related to the history of the settling and dispersal of European settlers in New England with successive waves of immigration. The Eastern dialect area corresponds to the section settled and expanded from the Atlantic seaboard, while the Western New England dialect area corresponds to the area settled from the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound west of the river. (Hampshire County forms part of the dividing line; Pelham, Massachusetts was settled from the Atlantic as an offshoot from Worcester; Hadley and Amherst, Massachusetts from the Connecticut River.)

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Handwritten transcription sheets (carbon copies) in the International Phonetic Alphabet, with some explanatory comments in longhand, recording hundreds of interviews held in communities throughout New England in the 1930s by linguists, documenting the geographic distribution of variant pronunciations and usages of spoken English. Worksheets are supplemented by phonological analyses; a published Handbook of the linguistic geography of New England (2nd Edition, 1972) which serves as index, introduction, and commentary to the papers; audio tapes of some follow-up interviews, 1934; and character sketches of informants by field workers.

The field workers’ task was to ascertain the usage of each informant on 814 words and phrases grouped in 711 numbered items, in interviews totaling from 6 to 20 hours per informant. The worksheets record the terms in groupings such as numerals, expressions of time, clothing and bedding, animals and calls to animals, dwellings, and the family. The interviews, when transcribed and compiled, resulted in the Linguistic Atlas of New England, published in 1939-1943, and the Handbook to the atlas, published first in 1939.

The atlas and the handbook are both organized term by term. The set of worksheets here, carbon copies from the interviewers’ workbooks, are arranged by community and then by informant, so that the total record of each informant is kept together, as it can be best exploited by research.

The atlas and the handbook are both organized term by term. The set of worksheets here, carbon copies from the interviewers’ workbooks, are arranged by community and then by informant, so that the total record of each informant is kept together, as it can be best exploited by research.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open for research.

Identities of persons in ledger of informants cannot be published, under conditions of the original interviews.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Linguistic Atlas of New England Records (MS 330). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired in 1974 from director of the Linguistic Atlas of the United States, through Professor Audrey Duckert, editor of the 2nd edition of the Handbook to the Linguistic Atlas of the United States, 1972.

Processing Information

Processed by Katherine Emerson and Linda Seidman, March 1983.


Additional Information

Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Language
English.


Contents List
Introductory material, field worker’s blank notebook, published Handbook of the Linguistic Geography of New England, word index
Box 1
Character sketches of informants by the field workers, 1-240
Box 2
Character sketches of informants by the field workers, 241-431
Box 3
Phonological analysis
Box 4
Interviews, in numerical order
Box 5-39
Tapes of the interviews, in numerical order
Box 40

Subjects

  • English language--Dialects--New England

Contributors

  • Linguistic Atlas of New England
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