G. Brendan Adams took up the post of Curator of Language at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in 1964, the first language specialist on its staff, following four years as its honorary dialect archivist. As founder of the Dialect Archive at the museum, he laid the basis for a collection that would some thirty years later provide the source material for the museum's Concise Ulster Dictionary (1996). For half a lifetime he had worked in the linen industry, but his prodigious linguistic talent and enthusiasm had led him into life-long membership of the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club, whose Folklore and Dialect Section he founded along with his uncle, the folklorist Richard Hayward. In that capacity he was active from the early 1950s in the collection of items of lexical interest, with the object of their eventual publication in dictionary form. During this time, the Royal Irish Academy published some of his work, and in later years he was to be elected to membership of that institution, one of a select few northerners so honoured. As a contemporary of Robert Gregg, as well as other 'greats' such as John Braidwood and Estyn Evans, he was in the vanguard of the systematic study of Ulster vernacular language, and edited the museum's first research volume, Ulster Dialects: An Introductory Symposium (1964). He taught Irish to adult learners, and his eclectic knowledge of other languages embraced such diverse areas of study as Hebrew, Chinese, Irish history and minority religious groupings. He died in 1981 while still in post at the museum, a year before he would have reached retirement age. Among the large quantity of his material stored at the museum were a number of unpublished papers, two of the most valuable of which are included in the present volume and are printed for the first time. Many of the prodigious number of his publications were published in The English Dialects of Ulster: An Anthology of Articles on Ulster Speech by G. B. Adams (ed. Michael Barry and Philip Tilling, 1986).
Dr. Bruce D. Boling is Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico. He was a cataloguer at the Library of Congress and the libraries at the University of Wyoming, Brown University, and the University of New Mexico. He was trained in general and historical linguistics at Harvard, where he received his doctorate in 1966 with a concentration in Celtic languages, especially Old Irish. For the past thirty years he has collected, studied, and written about English dialect patterns in the letters of Irish emigrants to North America. In recent years he has spent sabbatical and annual research leave using the collections at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Along with Kerby A. Miller, Arnold Schrier, and David N. Doyle, he is the co-author of the award-winning volume Irish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan: Letters and Memoirs from Colonial and Revolutionary America, 1675-1815 (Oxford University Press, 2003).
Mr. John G. W. Erskine works as a librarian in higher education in Belfast. A linguist by education, he served on the Board of the Ulster-Scots Agency during its first term. In addition to Ulster-Scots, his main area of study is in the field of the social and systematic bibliography of Irish Presbyterianism.
Mr. James Fenton is a retired school principal who grew up in the adjoining townlands of Ballinaloob and Drumdarragh in North Antrim. He attended Dalriada Grammar School, Stranmillis College, and Queen's University Belfast, and is the author of The Hamely Tongue and Thonner and Thon (both Ullans Press, 2000). His interests are poetry (especially 20th-century Irish poets), the novel, and conservation (he is a member of the Ulster Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds).
Dr. Rona R. K. Kingsmore was a practising speech pathologist for more than twenty years before receiving her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Ulster in 1983 for a sociophonetic study of the speech of Coleraine. Thereafter she directed the M.A. programme in Teaching English as a Foreign Language at Columbia International University in South Carolina for ten years before returning to Northern Ireland and teaching phonetics part-time at the University of Ulster. She is now retired and lives with her husband in Portstewart.
Dr. Linde Lunney comes from North Antrim, an area where Ulster-Scots was very strong until recently, and her interest in language history was fostered by a year in east Tennessee, and by studying language, literature and folk tradition in the University of Edinburgh. Her Queen's Ph.D. on language patterns of Ulster was completed in 1981, titled 'An Analysis of Some Linguistic Information Obtained from Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Poetry'. She now lives in Dublin, where she has worked on the Royal Irish Academy's Dictionary of Irish Biography since it started in 1983, and she is a member of the Board of Ulster Scots, appointed by the Irish government.
Dr. Caroline I. Macafee is a former (now honorary) reader at the University of Aberdeen. She has written extensively on the Scots language, including a book-length 'History of Scots to 1700' (incorporating material by late A. J. Aitken), as part of the Introduction to A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, vol.XII. She is the editor of A Concise Ulster Dictionary (1996).
Dr. Michael Montgomery is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and Linguistics at the University of South Carolina, where he taught for nearly two decades. He has published extensively on varieties of English in the American South (especially in Appalachia) and on the English and Scots of Ulster and Scotland and their trans-Atlantic connections. His most recent book is Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English (University of Tennessee Press, 2004).
Dr. Philip Robinson comes from East Antrim, and is retired Head of Collections at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. There he had overall responsibility for the Concise Ulster Dictionary project. Working as a settlement and cultural historian, his Ph.D. was on the 17th century Ulster Plantation, and his book The Plantation of Ulster is the standard work on that subject. He has published several novels and children's books in Ulster-Scots and is the author of Ulster-Scots: a Grammar of the Traditional Written and Spoken Language. As a founding member of the Ulster-Scots Language Society and the Ulster-Scots Academy, he continues an active engagement with the language community in the Ards Peninsula of East Down, where he now lives.
Anne Smyth, a Glaswegian by birth, was brought up in the household of her maternal grandmother, a native speaker of Lowland Scots. Moving to Northern Ireland in 1968 to study law at Queen's University, she was fascinated by the speech of fellow students from Ulster-Scots speaking areas, which displayed interesting similarities to, and also differences from, the Lowland Scots to which she was accustomed. Always a great lover of books, she turned her attention to the poetry of W. F. Marshall, and ultimately found her way to a lecture given by Professor John Braidwood. This fired her enthusiasm for Ulster-Scots and Ulster vernacular speech generally, leading to her eventual application in 1990 for the post of Assistant to Dr. Caroline Macafee, editor of the Concise Ulster Dictionary. Since 1994, when Dr. Macafee left for a post at Aberdeen University, she has been the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum's language specialist. She wrote part of the front matter for the dictionary, and has contributed to the Museum's in-house journal, Ulster Folklife. The current Chairman of the Ulster-Scots Language Society, she has written material for its journal, Ullans, and has assisted its principal editor in the preparation of most of the issues of that publication.
Dr. Jack W. Weaver is Professor Emeritus of English at Winthrop University, Rock Hill, S.C. His research and publications include Irish literature and folklore (George Moore, James Joyce and Music, AE, John Hewitt, Robert Greacen, and others) and Irish-American culture (the Scotch-Irish and their language and folklore). Work in progress includes 'A Blue Ridge Mountain Glossary' and a 'Selected Edition of Poems of Robert Greacen', as well as articles on Heaney and Montague.