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Artist working on Snape Maltings sound installation finds passion in Suffolk for preserving regional accent

PUBLISHED: 09:32 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:39 19 September 2017

Samantha Heriz has recorded changes to the Suffolk accent during a session at Snape Maltings. Picture: RUTH LEACH

Samantha Heriz has recorded changes to the Suffolk accent during a session at Snape Maltings. Picture: RUTH LEACH

An artist who returned to Suffolk to document changes to its accent has been impressed by the passion shown by local people in preserving their regional identity through its dialect.

Charlie Haylock, a dialect specialist spoke at the Snape Maltings event. Picture: RUTH LEACHCharlie Haylock, a dialect specialist spoke at the Snape Maltings event. Picture: RUTH LEACH

Samantha Heriz, who grew up in Suffolk but now lives in Australia, completed a residency at Snape Maltings where she recorded voices to make an immersive sound installation showing Suffolk’s changing accent.

Inspiration for the project came during her previous trip to the UK when she noticed the decline in the regional dialect.

Having taken a degree in speech science and worked as a speech therapist, Samantha said she had always been interested in the Suffolk accent but never found the time to pursue it further. By the time of her last visit, she was also a practising artist and after researching the Suffolk Voices Restored Collection, approached Snape Maltings with the view to approaching the topic from a creative perspective.

During the residency, she worked with a sound technician to document how the Suffolk dialect has changed from its traditional sound, characterised by “yod dropping” – where “new” is pronounced “noo”.

Mavis the Fox, presentetd by puppeteer Laura Bacon, took questions from the audience  in Suffolk dialect. Picture: RUTH LEACHMavis the Fox, presentetd by puppeteer Laura Bacon, took questions from the audience in Suffolk dialect. Picture: RUTH LEACH

Examples of the “endangered” Suffolk accent could still be found, she said, though there were also examples of Cockney, Estuary or received pronunciation.

Samantha said the project made her realise how accent remained a pertinent issue in Suffolk.

“Both relative newcomers and generational Suffolk residents all had a place in telling their story and claiming their identity with the current Suffolk accent,” she said. “I think the evidence is already out there that regional accents are changing so it wasn’t really research in that way, it was about documenting a moment in time and telling of the current Suffolk accent.”

Samantha was also impressed by local people, who showed “a lot of passion and inquisitiveness about the topic”, and praised Snape Maltings for its creative support. The project also had input from Charlie Haylock, whose book Sloightly On Th’Huh celebrates the Suffolk dialect.

John Murphy, a local dialect enthusiast shared some traditional Suffolk poetry. Picture: RUTH LEACHJohn Murphy, a local dialect enthusiast shared some traditional Suffolk poetry. Picture: RUTH LEACH

Samantha has returned to Australia to work on the sound installation, which she hopes to bring back to Snape Maltings.

Visit here to find out more about the project, which received support from Regional Arts Victoria and crowdfunding platform Pozible.

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