Where Do We Need to Go From Here?



Saving recordings from 1960s and 1970s in Valoc’

By Fabio Scetti

DIPRALANG – Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 

Postcard from Val Masino 1908
Postcard from Val Masino 1908

Since 2016, I have been in charge of the documentation and description of Valoc’, a variety of the Lombard dialect spoken in Val Masino, lower Valtellina, Northern Lombardy in Italy. I founded a Research Panel named VVV (Vocabulary of Valoc’ of Val Masino), the lateral valley of Valtellina where it is spoken. Together with my colleagues, Stefano Bisello and Federica Salamino, this project aims at raising the awareness of the local population about the use and maintenance of their language. 

To this end, meetings in schools and conferences with the population are organised once a year. Moreover, we focused on reorganising and categorising lexemes in a new version of the dictionary thanks to an elaboration of the Database with FileMaker Pro. A previous version of the manuscript was realised by professor Mario Songini (Diga) with recordings from the 1960s and 1970s, but never published. The recordings were made on low noise hi-fi compact cassettes and reel-to-reel audio tapes.

For that reason, my experience at ELAR was very rich and important. Thanks to the help of Sophie Salffner, I could put together all these recordings from the 1960s and 1970s. I was able to digitise them and deposit them on a hard-disk. All these unanalysed data have to be considered during the phase of control of lexemes in the dictionary. 

Reel-to-reel audio tape
Digitalising reel-to-reel audio tapes.

It was quite easy to work with low noise hi-fi compact cassettes, but extremely difficult and delicate to work with reel-to-reel audio tape recordings. Sophie told me once: «It may be the only and last time we are going to play this!». I was pretty scared at first, but thanks to her vital energy we made it. We could listen to people born in the 1890s speaking a very different Valoc’ from the one I am used to hearing. I was touched by this, even if Diga mixed up the recordings with some operas he recorded over the tape by mistake. Mario Songini died not long ago and for me the responsibility to continue his project is even greater now. I left London with great sadness, but at the same time happy to have realised this project, thanks to ELAR. The next step will be to publish the vocabulary and to deposit all the recordings and written data in an archive. Let’s cross our fingers!

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