Recordings from Prisoner-of-War Camps, World War I, Series 17/6

New publication in the series “The Complete Historical Collections 1899–1950”

Series 17/1–6 is a commented source edition of sound documents featuring prisoners of war from World War I. The collection, compiled by various scholars in cooperation with the Phonogrammarchiv, comprises 250 language and music recordings. The publication of these unique sources represents an important contribution to the topic of “science in wartime” and deepens the research of various disciplines in cultural studies.

While Series 17/1–5 contain the recordings of prisoners of war from the former Tsarist army, Series 17/6 is devoted to the recordings of Italian prisoners of war, made by linguist Karl von Ettmayer in the Upper Austrian camps of Mauthausen and Marchtrenk. The recordings are accompanied by detailed written documentation (the so-called protocols), which include transcriptions and German translations. Ettmayer, however, seems to have written these protocols prior to the actual recording process, since those extant do not correspond to the numbers of the recordings. Such “errors” are rather unique and asked for a lot of detective work in order to assign them to the respective recorded contents. Thanks to the fruitful cooperation with Serenella Baggio (University of Trento) and her team, it has been possible to provide detailed linguistic analyses of the recordings. The corpus is a quarry for dialectologists, and the language samples chosen – three different tales in a rural setting – were analysed not only with regard to pronunciation, but also to dissemination and popularity. The in-depth characterisation of the respective dialects clearly shows the marked differences between the various regions, which also reflects the historico-political situation.

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