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Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010
Putting the (south Devon) accent on getting it right
By Laura Joint
BBC Devon

Hallsands archive photo
Hallsands before the disaster of 1917

Do you have knowledge of the unique quirks of the south Devon dialect, circa 1900?

If so, you could have a role to play in a drama based on the loss of Hallsands, the fishing village which was swept away by the sea in 1919.

The play - written by Exeter University drama lecturer William Stanton - is being staged by the Court Theatre Training Company in London in March.

Voice coach Yvonne Morley wants the accents to be just right.

The ruins of Hallsands
The ruins of Hallsands

"It needs to be very accurate," said Yvonne.

"I need to find samples - old recordings, or perhaps people who have older relatives with the accent.

"We could then go through extracts with them and take the accents back to a very diverse groups of actors, which includes an American.

"I've already been working on a Devonian accent which comes from a respected tome used for drama and theatre - but it doesn't say what part of Devon the accent is from.

"If it is from north or east Devon, the accent will be different.

"We also want to find out more about the use of dialect in south Devon at that time."

Chains for a boat
Rusty evidence of the fishing village

The drama, Foul Tide, doesn't actually mention Hallsands.

However, it is about a south Devon fishing village which is lost to the sea after a deal is struck to allow ballast to be removed from the beach - just like Hallsands.

All that is left of Hallsands now is the remnants of homes, and the path leading to the South Hams village is sealed off for safety reasons.

"It is not a documentary, but looks at the issues surrounding the loss of a community between 1897 and 1917," said Yvonne.

"And the characters bear no relation to those involved historically."

The 12 members of the cast are in their final year at drama college, training to become actors and the play is being staged in a professional venue, the Courtyard Theatre.

Do you have knowledge of pronunciation and dialect for south Devon in the early 1900s? Let us know about the accent and sayings by using the messageboard below (this messageboard is pre-moderated by BBC Devon).

You can view much more BBC Devon material about Hallsands, using the links on the right.

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How Hallsands was lost to the sea
29 Jan 10 |  History
In pictures: Hallsands then and now
29 Jan 10 |  History
From the archives: BBC news films
25 Jan 10 |  History




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