The British Drama League Recordings

I’ve been held back from posting due to the 4th of July holiday (compounded by some internet connectivity issues). But I’d like to briefly share a fun thing I found on YouTube recently. A user who identifies himself as EMGColonel has uploaded a large number of old phonograph recordings, including a number of wonderful accent samples created by something called the The British Drama League in the 1930s.

You can find his channel here.

I particularly enjoyed this recording of an classic “Geordie” accent:

That’s all for now. I will have a full-on post tomorrow. Until then, happy 4th of July (and for non-Americans, happy monday!)

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About Ben

Ben Trawick-Smith launched his dialect fascination while working in theatre. He has worked as an actor, playwright, director, critic and dialect coach. Other passions include linguistics, urban development, philosophy and film.
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7 Responses to The British Drama League Recordings

  1. Austin says:

    I have always found it really funny when Americans tell Brits, “happy 4th of July.” That’s all I have to say.

  2. Amy Stoller says:

    What a treat! Thank you!

  3. Ed says:

    A word of caution on these! I was at a meeting of the Yorkshire Dialect Society at which a researcher from the British Library played some of these recordings. He said that these were artificial, using the most unusual form for every word possible. True dialect speakers (as many in the room were) alternative between standard and dialectal forms.

    • trawicks says:

      I’d say they do sound a bit stagey. However, I find them interesting for that reason: the exaggeration makes it easier to hear each individual feature.

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  5. Bill Dean-Myatt says:

    Most of the records issued by the British Drama League were recorded by professional actors or elocution teachers and are inherently rather “stagey” and do not represent the normal dialect speech of “ordinary” people.
    Columbia ROX-12 was made on 24th. September 1935 and purports to illustrate the dialect of the Scottish Border’s Region, The speaker was the actor John Laurie (Dumfries, 1897-1950) who was better known as Private Fraser in the TV Sitcom
    “Dad’s Army”. He reads poetry and prose extracts.