The Survey of English Tradition (SET)

The Survey of English Tradition, which was launched in 2000 as a millennium project, collects information on all aspects of language and tradition in England and throughout the British Isles on a continuing basis. We have a growing database of information in our archives, and are now asking for further contributions, which you can make through this website (click HERE for more information).

Cultural tradition is not confined to relics from the past: it also concerns the ways in which we do everyday things like tying shoelaces or decorating a cake, or how we celebrate a special occasion like a birthday. The point is that we learn how to do these ordinary things from somebody - it could be parents, friends, the media - and this is cultural tradition in action.

The principal categories covered by the Survey are:

1. Language and communication
Linguistic change; slang; regional and social dialects; traditional sayings and expressions, occupational vocabularies; proverbs and proverbial sayings; rhymes; riddles; placenames; nicknames; mnemonic devices; photocopylore, internet lore, and informal electronic communication.

2. Childlore
Preschool lore: traditional aspects of language learning, socialisation, and play.
School-age lore: the games, rhymes, songs, and other traditional activities involving children.

3. Custom and belief
Calendar customs; the rites of passage; social, occupational, recreational, and domestic customs; beliefs about the weather, crops, and livestock; the household, the family, and the individual; good and bad luck; charms, folk medicine, cures and remedies.

4. Traditional narrative
Legends: Supernatural legends, including ghostlore; legends about people, places, or events; explanatory legends; anecdotes, jokes; personal experience stories; folktales.

5. Traditional music, dance, and drama
All aspects of performance, context, and revival in traditional music, song, dance, and drama.

6. Material culture, work techniques, arts and crafts
Traditional occupations and skills; traditional arts, crafts, buildings, and artefacts.

CLICK HERE to find out how to get involved

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Survey of English Tradition

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