Who are we?
We are interested in the language used by miners in the East Midlands. Coal mining for many years was a crucial part of the local economy but in 2015 the last mine in the region closed and ended the coal industry in this area.
When Natalie Braber moved to Nottingham in 2005 she couldn't help but notice that almost no academic research had been conducted on the varieties of the language spoken in this region. While carrying out research she also spoke to local miners and discovered that many of the terms and words they used comprised a completely unique - and much overlooked - language variety. She also found quickly that the East Midlands had not one, but many variations of this 'pit talk'.
We have been able to gather a large amount of facts: not just words and expressions, but also information about the daily work of miners, and life outside the mine. With all the pits closed, this language and its heritage were in danger of being lost. Today, many local people are working to preserve the heritage and we want to add to their efforts.
We have collected information from miners from different areas of the East Midlands. As you can hear from the interviews under ORAL HISTORIES, people from across the region sometimes have different opinions and they don't always agree with each other. Of course, diversity is the spice of life - and, as you will discover, of pit talk.
Over the past few years we have been working to collect as much as possible of this language, used by miners of the East Midlands, to preserve it and to allow us to examine 'Pit Talk' in more detail. Our projects also include working with music, art and literature to engage people, especially young people, with mining heritage. Information on these projects is included on the NEWS pages.
Please feel free to contact us with any queries about this project. We are always looking to collect and share more material on language in coal mining, as well as any picture and audio data. We welcome any old pictures of coal mines you wish to send us, which, with your permission, we can post in this website's gallery.
Photo by Mike Conibear
Photo by Tony Whelan
Dr. Natalie Braber
Natalie Braber, Associate Professor at Nottingham Trent University, is a linguist who works on language variation in the East Midlands. Part of this work includes research on 'pit talk', the language of miners in the region. Her work has been funded by The British Academy, The Heritage Lottery Fund and The Arts and Humanities Research Council. She has published widely in these fields and gives talks at academic conferences and public events.
She is interested in the links between language and identity and considers language a crucial part of heritage.
Dr. David Amos
David Amos, Research Associate at Nottingham Trent University, is a former miner who worked in the local coalmining industry for 24 years. He graduated in 2012 with his Doctorate on the Nottinghamshire Miners and the 1984-85 Miners' Strike.
His specialist subjects include industry and transport in the East Midlands. Coalmining Heritage Project work includes the MuBu Coalmining Heritage Project (2010-2012), a History of Coalmining in Ten Objects (2013), the Bestwood Winding Engine House education pack (2015) and the WW1 Project on the construction and demise of the German colliery at Harworth (1913 - 1924) in 2017-18.
We would like to thank Teya Dancer (an English and Linguistics student at Nottingham Trent University) for all her work in setting up this website.