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A quantitative approach to social and geographical dialect variation

Wieling, M. B. 2012 [Groningen]: University of Groningen. 198 p.

Research output: ScientificDoctoral Thesis


The central theme of Martijn Wieling’s dissertation is dialect variation. To obtain a true picture of dialect variation, we measure dialect distances automatically on the basis of the transcriptions of hundreds of words. In this dissertation, Wieling refined this distance measure by employing (automatically generated) acoustically sensitive sound distances. Additionally, he introduced a novel method enabling the simultaneous identification of dialect areas together with their characteristic linguistic features (in terms of sound correspondences). For both English and Dutch, he found sensible dialect areas as well as their characteristic features. For example, for the Frisian area, we identify the addition of ‘sj’ as highly characteristic: wachten ‘to wait’ becomes wachtsje. inally, he has developed an integrated approach which is able to determine the influence of various factors on dialect variation per word. Not only is this method able to include the effect of geographical proximity, but it also allows a focus on various social and word-related factors (such as speaker age, or the frequency of a word). For example, Dutch dialect words differ most from their standard Dutch counterpart in the provinces of Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe, Overijssel, Limburg and Zeeland. In addition, he finds that the dialect pronunciations of a community with a small number of inhabitants or a high average age differ more from the standard Dutch language than those of a community having a large number of inhabitants or a low average age. Finally, he finds that more frequent words are more resistant to standardization (in different languages). This dissertation focuses on real dialect pronunciations. It does not say anything about the accent of people speaking the standard language.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Nerbonne, John, Supervisor
  • Baayen, R. Harald, Supervisor, External person
Award date28-Jun-2012
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs9789036755214
Electronic ISBNs9789036755221
StatePublished - 2012


  • Proefschriften (vorm), Sociale aspecten, Geografische aspecten, Dialectologie, Variaties, Dialecten, taalgeografie

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