MIMORE, a search engine for the investigation of morphosyntactic variation in Dutch dialects
MIMORE is a tool that was developed at the Meertens Instituut by means of which researchers can investigate morphosyntactic variation in Dutch dialects. Through this online environment, three different databases can be queried:
- Dynamic Syntactic Atlas of the Dutch Dialects, which contains recordings and transcriptions of Dutch spoken in over 300 locations across The Netherlands, Belgium and a part of north-western France. It focuses on the syntactic variation among the dialects in these areas, such as differences in question formation and word order;
- Diversity in Dutch DP Design, which contains oral and written interviews from about 200 locations in the Dutch language area and focuses on morphosyntactic variation in nominal structures; and
- Goeman, Taeldeman, van Reenen Project, which focuses on morphological variation (such as the differences in verbal inflection) among roughly 600 locations in the Dutch language area.
MIMORE is very versatile in that it allows researchers to narrow down their search according to parameters relevant for the linguistic study of dialects, such as specific geographic locations or syntactic phenomena in which the dialects might differ from one another. The search engine also allows its users to export the data for statistical analysis as well as to visualize them on a geographic map of the Dutch language area. It is accompanied by a comprehensive Educational Module, which provides an example of use on how to find sentences where the grammatical subject is realized twice within the same clause, which is a syntactic phenomenon that is limited to the south-western and western-central dialects of Dutch. There is also a case study available that demonstrates the combined use of MIMORE and the treebank search engine GrETEL.
The data that can be accessed through MIMORE point to the fact that many local Dutch dialects have begun to disappear or change in the direction of the standard language because of the increasing mobility and changes in the communication of its speakers. Additionally, the tool is also of great importance for formal linguistics as it allows researchers to conduct micro-comparative studies of the Dutch language on the basis of data from dialects that show variation in terms of highly specific syntactic phenomena, such as the existence of complementizer agreement in certain Dutch dialects.
Figure 1: The visualisation tool offered by MIMORE which shows how Dutch dialects differ from one another on the basis of different word orders in the verbal phrase. In the north, there is a strong preference for the participle + auxiliary verb + modal verb order (the yellow rectangles), whereas the southern dialects prefer the modal verb + participle + auxiliary verb order (red dots).
Blog post written by Darja Fišer and Jakob Lenardič
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