Boffins launch app for Dutch regional accents

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fries1

On 2 December the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) together with science-oriented Dutch public-service broadcaster NTR will be launching the ‘Sprekend Nederland’ app that analyses groups of speakers and what they think of each other. Are some variants taking over or in fact disappearing? A lot of data has to be collected to be able to draw conclusions and Dutch speakers can contribute, including ‘ethnic varieties’ because even ethnic groups speak different types of Dutch depending on where they live.

The app needs to be installed on a smartphone so you can record a few sentences and contribute. Researchers point out that it would be nice if the kids made sure their grandparents joined in as well, a group that’s a bit less tech-savvy than most. And what about getting Dutch-speaking foreigners like myself? I wonder if I can join or if it’s for card-carrying Dutch people only. I’ve asked.

UPDATE: Anybody who speaks Dutch can contribute, ‘even with a different background’.

‘Patat’ or ‘friet’? They both mean ‘fries’, but people use one or the other depending on where they live. The research here is not about dialects, but about ‘regionally different versions of Dutch’. The scientists and app builders from Amsterdam, Utrecht and Nijmegen had never sought to analyse the diversity of Dutch on such a large scale before. They wanted to build an app that was scientific, but also appealed to the mainstream. The boffins also want to create a Flemish version, but that’s not in the cards yet.

(Links: www.nwo.nl, www.kennislink.nl)

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