Language investigation – comparisons of the type of language used in different styles of music reviews, namely the nME new musical express, and the daily telegraph’s music reviews. Questions to ask about gravestones. Part I Take one graveyard and/or a church full of memorials and tombs. Record the following information on the gravestones/memorials/tombs: 1. Inscription 2. Decoration, including style of inscription carving. Are the words cut into the stone, raised up or metal attachments? 3. Location of grave/memorial. Has it been moved?
4. Style of grave/memorial. 5. Type of grave/memorial. They don’t all look the same. They can be made from different materials, be different sizes and shapes, be fixed on the wall, on the ground etc. . Think of simple ways of describing them, like black floor slab, sandstone floor slab, table tomb etc. . 6. Take photographs where possible and measurements if you can. 7. You may not be the first person to study the stones. Check in your local library to see if someone has recorded the information before you. You may be able to use it to supplement your findings because some stones may have become too worn for you to read. 8. Above all be careful! Remember these objects are heavy and often unstable. Don’t put yourself in a position where they can fall on you and squash you flat.
There are all sorts of ways that you can use your results to tell you about local history. Here are just a few examples: Gender differences 1. Are there differences between male and female inscriptions? How often are women defined by their male relatives’ status in comparison to male graves? How often are their personal qualities referred to? What kinds of qualities are emphasised? Are women and men praised for different characteristics? (e.g. are women praised for patience and men for strength?) 2. Are there differences in decoration on male and female graves? Are men more likely to have some symbols and women others? 3. Location. Do male graves occupy different locations to female graves. For example, are all the graves near the church altar or door male? 4. Can you detect changes over time?
Inscriptions 1. What parts of a person’s life get described? Is it their personality, their career, their family, their achievements or nothing at all? 2. What kind of language is used to described the body? Is the presence of the corpse acknowledged in open terms or are euphemisms used like ‘fell asleep’. (This tells you how openly society accepted death.) 3. Is any religious language used? Different religious groups (e.g. Catholics and Puritans) used different terms. This kind of examination can tell you about the confessional composition of the population. 4. What language is the inscription written in. In a place like Wales how many are written in Welsh rather than English? In Western countries how many are written in Latin? 5. How do the inscriptions change over time?