What’s killing the Suffolk accent? Speech therapist crosses globe to record dialect’s demise
A Suffolk native is returning to her home county from the other side of the world – on a mission to preserve a disappearing dialect.
Samantha J Heriz, who grew up in Palgrave, near Diss, before travelling the world and settling in southeast Australia, was motivated by her last return trip, during which she discovered an audio collection of local accents at the Suffolk Record Office.
“When I mentioned this to a German friend, she didn’t know there was a Suffolk accent,” said the former Diss High School pupil, whose mother still lives locally.
“Sadly, it’s disappearing. It’s not as robust as accents in places like Yorkshire, where people can be instantly identified as natives.
“Even elements of West Country English are dying – partly down to globalization.
“In Suffolk, another reason is movement from London.”
Samantha left Suffolk with a speech sciences degree in 2007. She now has two daughters, works as a speech therapist, and recently completed a master’s in fine art.
On June 5, she launches a funding drive for Trans/Muting Suffolk: The Attrition of the Suffolk Accent, having secured a residency at Snape Maltings in September – working with a sound technician to record voices of local residents, which will be transcribed and compared to the accent of an Aldeburgh fisherman in the Heritage Lottery funded Suffolk Voices Restored collection, before becoming an immersive sound installation at next year’s Aldeburgh Festival.
According to Samantha, the Suffolk dialect is recognisable by characteristics like ‘yod-dropping’ – with ‘new’ pronounced ‘noo’.
“I want to detect how much the accent has changed,” she said.
“Being from Suffolk, I feel pretty well placed to take this on.”
Bridget Hanley, collections manager at Suffolk Record Office, said: “Suffolk people are fiercely proud of their history and the local dialect, and it is important to celebrate this.”
Rebecca Knights, residencies producer at Snape Maltings, said the project would “enable Samantha to grow as an artist and develop new skills and learning, but also have an immediate impact for Snape Maltings.”
Samantha, who is being mentored by Regional Arts Victoria and Australia-based crowdfunding platform Pozible, aims to raise almost £3,500 for the project.
To donate, visit rav.pozible.com/project/trans-muting-suffolk-1.