The Helsinki Archive of Regional English Speech (HARES)

The Helsinki Archive of Regional English Speech (HARES) is a multi-purpose audio archive of interview recordings collected mainly in rural regions of England in the 1970s and 1980s.

The audio collection totals some 211 hours, and it is supplemented by XML-annotated transcriptions that conform to TEI guidelines. With HARES, we hope to create a unique cultural repository that introduces the end user to life in rural England from as early as mid-19th century onwards.

Project members
  • Anna-Liisa Vasko
  • Simo Ahava
  • Joe McVeigh (University of Helsinki)

The archive includes data from the following regions: Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely, Devon, Essex, Lancashire, Somerset and Suffolk. Most speakers are elderly males with minimal education, as they were considered at the time to represent the prototypical dialect speaker. The interview sessions were structured so that the informants could speak freely with minimal interviewer intervention. This led to a great amount of naturally flowing conversation with varied topics and themes.

In addition to its obvious linguistic uses (e.g. discourse analysis, dialect grammar), HARES will serve as valuable source data for many different research topics, such as local customs, history and geography, folk tales, farming and war. The archive is designed so that the audio serves as primary data with which the XML-annotated transcriptions are synchronised. 

Work on HARES began in early 2009, and a sampler of the Cambridgeshire recordings is currently being compiled by the HARES team.