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The Tyneside Linguistic Survey (TLS) Corpus


Period: 1960s-1970s

 

Interview details: 37 interviews. Total word count = 229,909. Total audio length = 22 hours 53 minutes 55 seconds ( + 7 additional phonetic transcription files relating to the Newcastle interviews).

 

The TLS project team: Joan Beal, Anthea Fraser Gupta, Val Jones, John Local, Vince McNeaney, Graham Nixon, John Pellowe and Barbara Strang.


To judge from the project papers and public output of the Tyneside Linguistic Survey, its main aim was to determine whether systematic phonetic variation among Tyneside speakers could be significantly correlated with their social characteristics. To this end a methodology was developed that was radical at the time and remains so today: in contrast to the then-universal and still-dominant theory driven approach, where social and linguistic factors are selected by the analyst on the basis of some combination of an independently-specified theoretical framework, existing case studies, and personal experience of the domain of enquiry, TLS proposed a fundamentally empirical approach in which salient factors are extracted from the data itself and then serve as the basis for model construction. The aims and methodology of the TLS project are described in Strang (1968) Pellowe et al. (1972) Pellowe & Jones (1978) and Jones-Sargent (1983).

To realize this research aim, TLS created a corpus of spoken Tyneside English. It consisted of the following components:

  • A collection of one-to-one interviews lasting an average of around 40 minutes, with Tyneside speakers who were randomly selected from the electoral register (the TLS interviewer briefly refers to this process at the beginning of two interviews, decten1tlsg23 and decten1tlsg27). The interviews were carried out in the informants' homes, and, to direct the conversations, informants were asked to talk about aspects of their lives such as the different places they had lived and jobs they had done, and encouraged to share their opinions on issues such as education and politics, and their attitudes to the local dialect. At the end of each interview, the informants were asked for judgements on constructions containing vernacular morphosyntax, and whether they knew or used a range of traditional dialect words.  These interviews were recorded onto analog reel-to-reel tape, the standard audio recording technology of the time.

  • Social data for each speaker.

  • Orthographic and phonetic transcriptions of the first ten minutes or so of the interviews. An interview transcription consisted of a set of 200 or so index cards in which each card contained a representation of a brief segment of audio in Standard English orthography, a corresponding phonetic transcription of the audio segment, and some associated grammatical, prosodic, and phonological information.

  • Digital electronic text files containing the phonetic transcriptions from the index cards.

  • Digital electronic text files containing encoded social data for each speaker.

These components are fully described in Jones-Sargent (1983).

When the material from this period was rescued and converted into a digital format as part of the NECTE project, components relating to 114 TLS interviews were identified. Of these, only 37 were found to constitute a full set of the audio recording, transcriptions and social data. These 37 are included in DECTE, and are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. TLS Interviews in DECTE

Interview Code

Word

Count

Audio

(mins:secs)

Interview Code

Word

Count

Audio

(mins:secs)

decten1tlsg01

4,906

34:22

decten1tlsg20

5,551

34:49

decten1tlsg02

7,504

45:59

decten1tlsg21

5,609

33:47

decten1tlsg03

8,978

49:15

decten1tlsg22

6,546

42:49

decten1tlsg04

4,314

25:16

decten1tlsg23

5,760

32:34

decten1tlsg05

5,170

28:31

decten1tlsg24

5,914

37:39

decten1tlsg06

4,959

30:19

decten1tlsg25

6,518

35:26

decten1tlsg07

1,427

09:55

decten1tlsg26

7,870

47:54

decten1tlsg08

5,924

36:38

decten1tlsg27

9,338

49:29

decten1tlsg09

8,159

46:14

decten1tlsg28

7,089

33:41

decten1tlsg10

5,869

36:34

decten1tlsg29

3,692

23:20

decten1tlsg11

6,758

38:16

decten1tlsg30

5,494

32:59

decten1tlsg12

4,679

32:56

decten1tlsg31

9,006

46:02

decten1tlsg13

3,361

18:31

decten1tlsg32

5,909

42:19

decten1tlsg14

7,564

42:43

decten1tlsg33

7,134

40:00

decten1tlsg15

6,537

45:10

decten1tlsg34

6,710

41:22

decten1tlsg16

7,386

39:24

decten1tlsg35

6,484

40:59

decten1tlsg17

6,487

41:18

decten1tlsg36

6,426

35:57

decten1tlsg18

5,068

35:19

decten1tlsg37

6,511

38:52

decten1tlsg19

7,298

47:17

 

 

 

 

Table 2 summarizes the social data associated with these speakers.

 

Table 2. TLS Informant Details

Informant Code

Gender

Age Group

Region - Residence

(Birth Place, if different)

Education

Occupation

informantTLSG01

Female

31-40

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 15

Housewife (previously Tailor)

informantTLSG02a

Male

31-40

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 15; subsequent night school

Painter & Decorator

informantTLSG03

Female

31-40

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Housewife (previously Sewing Machinist)

informantTLSG04

Male

61-70

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Storeman

informantTLSG05

Female

21-30

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 15; subsequent nursery nurse training

Housewife (previously Nursery Nurse)

informantTLSG06a

Female

71-80

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Home Help (retired)

informantTLSG07a

Male

31-40

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Cast Operator (Printing)

informantTLSG08a

Female

17-20

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Sewing Machinist

informantTLSG09a

Female

21-30

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 16; subsequent college (day release, until 18)

Housewife (previously Civil Servant)

informantTLSG10a

Female

17-20

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 15

Sewing Machinist

informantTLSG11

Female

31-40

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 15; subsequent nursing training

Student Nurse

informantTLSG12a

Male

21-30

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 15

Engraver

informantTLSG13a

Male

61-70

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Nightwatchman (previously Miner)

informantTLSG14

Male

41-50

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Driver

informantTLSG15

Female

21-30

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Housewife (previously Sewing Machinist)

informantTLSG16a

Female

41-50

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Cleaner

informantTLSG17

Female

51-60

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Housewife (previously Dinner Lady)

informantTLSG18a

Male

31-40

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Unemployed (previously Storeman)

informantTLSG19a

Male

41-50

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

JCB Driver

informantTLSG20

Male

21-30

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 16; subsequent teacher training college

Student (Teacher Training)

informantTLSG21

Female

21-30

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 16; subsequent college (day release)

Clerical Worker (Employment Exchange)

informantTLSG22a

Female

41-50

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Housewife (previously Sewing Machinist and Shop Assistant)

informantTLSG23a

Male

21-30

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 16; subsequent polytechnic / university (4 years)

Gas Board Marketing Retail Officer

informantTLSG24

Male

61-70

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Nightwatchman (previously Wire Drawer)

informantTLSG25a

Female

41-50

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14; subsequent night school

Housewife (previously Clothes Cutter and Designer)

informantTLSG26

Female

41-50

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Housewife (previously Paper Mill Worker)

informantTLSG27

Male

21-30

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 15

Maintenance Fitter

informantTLSG28

Male

61-70

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Railway Engineer (retired)

informantTLSG29a

Male

41-50

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Plumber

informantTLSG30a

Male

21-30

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 15; subsequent college (day release, 5 years)

Millwright

informantTLSG31a

Male

31-40

Tyneside - Gateshead

(born in Northern Ireland)

Left school at 14

Taxi Driver

informantTLSG32

Female

51-60

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

School Cook

informantTLSG33

Male

61-70

Tyneside - Gateshead

(born in County Durham)

Left school at 14

Pit Worker (retired)

informantTLSG34

Female

31-40

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 15; subsequent secretarial college

School Secretary

informantTLSG35a

Female

31-40

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 15

Shop Worker

informantTLSG36

Female

31-40

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 15

Housewife (previously Hospital Catering)

informantTLSG37

Female

41-50

Tyneside - Gateshead

Left school at 14

Housewife (previously Factory Worker)

 

In addition to the above 37 interviews, all of which involve residents of Gateshead, the TLS component of DECTE includes phonetic transcriptions and informant social data files for a further 7 interviews collected in Newcastle. Since there is no surviving audio file or text transcription for these interviews, the information relating to them is summarized separately in the Table 3 below.

 

Table 3. TLS Informant Details: Newcastle Interview Phonetic Transcription Files

Informant Code

Gender

Age Group

Region - Residence

Education

Occupation

informantTLSN01

Female

41-50

Tyneside - Newcastle

Technical, secretarial college, nursing full time

Inspectional, supervisory, non-manual (lower grade)

informantTLSN02

Male

21-30

Tyneside - Newcastle

Legal minimum +1 year (subsequent technical, secretarial college, nursing full time)

Skilled manual and routine non-manual

informantTLSN03

Female

61-70

Tyneside - Newcastle

Legal minimum +1 year

Skilled manual and routine non-manual

informantTLSN04

Male

41-50

Tyneside - Newcastle

(also lived in Yorkshire and on Merseyside)

Legal minimum +2 years (university or polytechnic full time)

Managerial and executive

informantTLSN05

Female

41-50

Tyneside - Newcastle

Unknown

Skilled manual and routine non-manual

informantTLSN06

Male

21-30

Tyneside - Newcastle

(from south-east London)

Legal minimum +1 year

Unskilled manual

informantTLSN07

Male

31-40

Tyneside - Newcastle

(also lived in London, Yorkshire, Midlands)

Legal minimum

Unknown

The TLS project analysis and results were described in Jones-Sargent (1983) and Jones (1985). Thereafter, work on the TLS corpus languished. The audio tapes and index card sets were stored in the Department of English Language (now part of the School of English Literature, Language, and Linguistics) at the Newcastle University. In addition, John Local, one of the TLS researchers, deposited 6 audio recordings with the British Library Sound Archive, and the electronic files were lodged with the Oxford Text Archive. In 1994-5 Joan Beal of the School of English Literary and Linguistic Studies at Newcastle University secured funding from the Catherine Cookson Foundation to (i) salvage the by then rapidly deteriorating audio tapes by re-recording them onto cassette tape, (ii) catalogue them, and (iii) archive the tapes, the index card sets, and documentation associated with the TLS project in a new Catherine Cookson Archive of Northumbrian Dialect at the University of Newcastle. In 2001-2005 the TLS materials in the Catherine Cookson Archive and the Oxford Text Archive were incorporated into the Newcastle Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English (NECTE) corpus.