HiDD. Historical dialect database

Start - End 
2020 - 2023 (ongoing)
Department of Linguistics
Research Focus 



This project concerns the development of a historical dialect database of the Flemish dialects for studying dialect syntax, based on the Reeks Nederlandse Dialectatlassen (RND). The concerned dataset is part of the oldest orally surveyed dialect collection in the language area. Between 1923 and 1982, speakers of 1956 locations of the Dutch and Frisian language translated 141 sentences into their local dialects. They were written down in phonetic writing by trained linguists and published in atlases. The data are digitized as pdf’s, but are not easily searchable, as one has to search for each sentence of interest in the 16 atlases manually. Furthermore, the data can nowadays not be used by international researchers without knowledge of the local dialects nor by laymen who are not able to read the phonetic writing.
The proposed database is a pilot database which contains a subset of the 1956 locations. It will be possible to search through the data with filters such as location and sentence number, or more advanced based on the part-of-speech-tag. The phonetic signs will be translated into an orthographic representation in two layers: one close to the dialect (1a) and one close to Dutch (1b).

(1) a. an d#ennen e steekvogel zien z#em benauwd
b. als de hennen een steekvogel zien ze hebben benauwd
"If the chickens see a sparrow hawk they are frightened”. (sentence 1, De Moeren)

The goal is to facilitate research on dialectological variation in syntax to inform studies on (reasons behind) language change and theoretical representations of language.