The Salamanca Corpus is an ongoing project started in 2003 and led by Dr María F. García-Bermejo Giner, which aims to refine our knowledge of the linguistic history of English dialects of the Early and Late Modern English periods (1500-1950). Consisting of specimens of literary dialect, dialect literature (Shorrocks 1996), and of glossaries of regional varieties of speech, it has been conceived as a digital archive of diachronic dialect material that might bridge some of the gaps still existing in the field. At the same time, the corpus provides access to a wealth of historical dialect writing texts from all over England which add to the monumental catalogue of primary sources behind the compilation of Joseph Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary (1896-1905) (see further García-Bermejo Giner 2010, 2012). This way, the project sets off to contribute to the linguistic history of English dialects and the history of dialect writing from different perspectives that include diachronic dialectology, historical sociolinguistics, dialect literary studies, corpus linguistics, historical dialect lexicography, text editing and the historical representation of dialect voices more generally.
The main goals of the Salamanca Corpus are twofold:
- To recover and digitise older and hardly accessible representations of regional speech from the Early and Late Modern English periods;
- To improve the historical record of English dialects by exploring the language of dialect writing, which we scrutinise from interrelated angles that may help us reconstruct the history of some features as well as the ideologies behind their literary and lexicographical choices.
So far, our work has shown that the Salamanca Corpus provides useful insight into the history of forms that remain little explored, while it can prove beneficial in reconstructing linguistic ideas about dialects over time. The corpus materials are open access and can be downloaded from the corpus website (http://www.thesalamancacorpus.com), as well as from the digital repository of the University of Salamanca (GREDOS).