There exist numerous studies about language change and dialect convergence. In contrast to many of those studies, we do not focus on particular eye catching phenomena, but want to study these phenomena systemetically on the basis of large amounts of data, using modern web-based and computational techniques to obtain an overall picture of this change, affecting both the production and perception of dialect speakers.

The results of the web survey on the one hand, and the computational phonetic transcription-based measurements on the other hand enable us to investigate if there is a change in the dialects itself, i.e. in the production of the speakers, and whether dialect speakers are becoming less sensitive to (minor) dialect differences, i.e. whether there is a change in the perception of the speakers. The results of our research will give insight in the nature of language change and dialect levelling. The research may also be important for historical linguists since it gives us quantitative information about the direction and rates of sound change.

Furthermore, this project will result in a large set of dialect recordings, accessible for both scientists and non-scientists, together with consistent phonetic transcriptions made by one transcriber. We will also obtain a large database of dialect perceptions, i.e. the judgments of dialectal speakers concerning their own and other varieties. The database will serve to test our hypotheses about language change, but should also prove to be a valuable resource for future work by other researchers.