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What’s with this “Wren” thing?
The oldest extant version of the fable
are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology
Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche
Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”)
collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read
ichael Montgomery is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and Linguistics
at the University of South Carolina.
Following completion of his PhD in Linguistics
at the University of Florida (1979), he has devoted his career to two principal
areas of study of the English language and its close relations.
The English of the American South, including Southern Appalachia.
He has edited six books on varieties of Southern American English, white and
black, and has recently completed a comprehensive historical dictionary
of southern mountain English (Dictionary
of Smoky Mountain English, University of Tennessee Press, 2004). He is now at work on a quantitatively
based study of the grammar of Southern Appalachian English.*
The English and Scots of Ulster and Scotland.
Since 1988 he has traveled regularly to Northern Ireland and Scotland to investigate
language varieties there. His original aim was to explore, through archival
research, trans-Atlantic linguistic relations (i.e. what 18th-century emigrants
contributed to American speech), and he has published nearly twenty articles
on this and related topics. More recently he has undertaken study of modern-day
Ulster Scots through fieldwork and other approaches. In 2000 the Ulster-Scots
Language Society appointed him its Honorary President, a position he has
also held for the Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster
since 1997. He is nearing the completion of three books on Ulster Scots:
From Ulster to America: The Scotch-Irish Heritage of American English
The Academic Study of Ulster-Scots: Essays by and for Robert J. Gregg
Ulster Scots Yesterday and Today
Below is a sample
sound recording. Please click on the arrow to start it after it finished
loading. It contains a fine story recorded in 1939 by my coeditor for the
Mountain English, Joseph Sargent Hall. The sound quality is not the best, but is still
quite good considering the fact that it was recorded on aluminum disk two-thirds
of a century ago. The speaker is Mr. Eugene Sutton of Cataloochee, North
Carolina (now within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park), who was 43
at the time of the recording.
It’s one of the best samples in the collection. For those interested in further
information on materials collected by Joseph Hall, you might be interested
in knowing that all of his personal copies have been deposited in the Archives
of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University. As you can discover from
the detailed finding
aid at their website (go to cass.etsu.edu and from there), these include
not only recordings, but also a very large body of unpublished print
materials, much of which I used in the recently published Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English. That work includes a good bit of biographical information about him as well.