Listening to radio or television one notices the tendency for standard Dutch
(ABN) to become more and more differentiated, i.e. regionally colored.
Hoppenbrouwers (1990) showed the opposite tendency for dialects. Being
influenced by standard Dutch and by each other they have become less
differentiated and fused to larger wholes: regiolects (see also Hinskens (1993),
Auer & Hinskens (1996), and Hinskens, Auer & Kerswill (2005)). While earlier
scholars usually describe this change in terms of single linguistic phenomena,
we plan to investigate this change using modern web-based and computational
techniques to obtain an overall picture of this change. Our goal is to examine
how the change from dialects to regiolects is reflected in the production and
perception of the dialect speakers. The results of our research will give
insight into the nature of language change and dialect levelling. The research
is important for historical linguists since it gives information about the
direction and rates of sound change.
The research will be based on representative Dutch dialects of approximately 80
locations in the Netherlands and North Belgium. Perceptive distances are
obtained on the basis of a web survey in which speakers listen to recordings.
Computational distances are found on the basis of the transcriptions of the
recordings. In the experiments two groups are distinguished: conservative
dialect speakers (old males) and innovative dialect speakers (young females).
We will test three hypotheses. First, perceptive distance measurements which are
based on the recordings of innovative speakers will suggest larger areas than
those which are based on the recordings of conservative speakers. Second, the
change from dialect to regiolect affects the lexical level ('kopstubber' becomes
'roagebol') more strongly than the phonological ('hoes' becomes 'huus') and
phonetic levels. Third, this change also affects the perception of the speakers,
but perception lags behind production.
The project started at November 1, 2007 and ends at October 31, 2011. Host
institution is the Meertens Institute in Amsterdam. Supervisor is Prof. Dr.
F.L.M.P. Hinskens. The the international supervising group consists of the
Prof. Dr. April McMahon, The University of Edinburgh / School of Philosophy,
Psychology and Language Sciences / Linguistics and English Language,
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Prof. Dr. Brian Joseph, The Ohio State University / Department of Linguistics,
Columbus, Ohio, United States of America
Prof. Dr. Hans Goebl, Universität Salzburg / Fachbereich Romanistik,
Prof. Dr. Ir. John Nerbonne, University of Groningen / Faculty of Arts /
Department of Humanities Computing, Groningen, The Netherlands