Smartphone Sociolinguistics in Minority Language Areas: ‘Stimmen’

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    This paper presents a tool for citizen science and sociolinguistic research: the application ‘Stimmen’ (Voices in Frisian). Citizen science is an umbrella term for projects in which the public partakes as data collectors, data processors, analysts, educators or formulators of research questions (cf. Bonney et al. 2016). While sociolinguists have made use of citizen science for a long time, recent technological developments, such as smartphones, have made it easier than ever to involve the public in our research.

    ‘Stimmen’ is inspired by language documentation efforts that rely on the public as collectors of speech recordings and translations, but with the inclusion of gamified components. To give users an incentive to use the app it contains a perceptual dialectology task that guesses where the user is from (within the Netherlands). Additionally, a picture naming task is available, designed specifically to collect speech data from lesser-used and oral languages. The picture-naming task consists of 88 different pictures (without text) that must be named by the user (in the language of their choice).

    ‘Stimmen’ was launched in late 2017. More than 15,000 users have provided data so far, and more than 46,000 speech recordings have been made. This paper presents results from the perceptual dialectology task as well as the picture naming task. The discussion focusses on the Frisian data, and some changes within the minority language in the Netherlands. Two main findings are discussed: the fact that stereotypical regional features in Frisian have stable isoglosses; and that, in our data, language loss and regional dialect levelling cannot be sufficiently teased apart. The latter finding indicates that crowd-sourced data, e.g. from citizen science projects, must be enriched with additional qualitative methods, emphasising the importance of triangulation for investigations language change. I end with some comments about the value and future outlook of citizen science for studies of language variation and change.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventInternational Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE) 10 )leeuwarden= -
    Duration: 26-Jun-201928-Jun-2019


    ConferenceInternational Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE) 10 )leeuwarden=

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