British Library gets recordings of PoWs, captured by a German linguist, highlighting regional accents British troops march towards trenches near Ypres at the Western Front during the first world war. Photograph: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis Crackling and quavering over the distance of almost a century, the voice of George Campbell from Aberdeen still rings out sweet and cheerful. His song was the Bonnie Banks o'Loch Lomond, and although on 22 July 1916 he was a prisoner behind the wire of Sennelager camp in Germany, he had good reason to hope he would see those bonnie banks and braes again, unlike his comrades still floundering and dying in the mud of the trenches. Campbell's is among hundreds of voices of men who escaped the hell of the Western Front by being taken prisoner, only to be confronted by an ardent young German linguist with a crate of shellac discs and a portable recording device. Their voices, recorded in German prisoner of war camps between 1916 and 1918, survived in the Berliner Lautarchiv. The British Library has now acquired digital copies of all the British voices and documentation. In 1916 Wilhelm Doegen, a linguist and phoneticist who had studied at Oxford in the 1900s, realised that fate had provided him with a captive audience, literally, and an extraordinary variety of accents and languages of the British empire including Hindi, Bengali and Punjabi, Welsh, Scots and Irish voices. He got special permission from the authorities to take his equipment into camps including Sennelager in Westphalia, and Wunsdorf in Brandenburg, where along with Indian and African troops singing and telling folk tales in their own languages he recorded regional accents from all over Britain, many now virtually extinct, including voices from Aberdeen, Macclesfield, Bletchington and Wolverhampton. It is the oldest collection of English dialect recordings in the world. Full article can be found here.