Projects on dialect syntax

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This page gives an overview of the projects investigating (European) dialects.


Current projects:

Edisyn project

This is an ESF-funded project on dialect syntax. It runs at the Meertens Institute in Amsterdam from September 2005 until September 2010, with a partial extension till March 2012. It aims at achieving two goals. One is to establish a European network of (dialect)syntacticians that use similar standards with respect to methodology of data collection, data storage and annotation, data retrieval and cartography. The second goal is to use this network to compile an extensive list of so-called doubling phenomena from European languages/dialects and to study them as a coherent object. Cross-linguistic comparison of doubling phenomena will enable us to test or formulate new hypotheses about natural language and language variation.

ESST on Estonian Swedish

ESST (Estonian Swedish Language Structure) is funded by the Swedish Science Council (Vetenskapsrådet) 2013–2016. Four researchers are involved in the project, two syntacticians (Maia Andréasson and Henrik Rosenkvist (project leader)) and two phoneticians (Eva Liina Asu-Garcia and Susanne Schötz). The project is hosted by Gothenburg University (Sweden), but we will collaborate with researchers in Finland and Estonia. The Estonian archipelago and a small part of the Estonian main land was colonized by Swedes in the early Middle Ages. During WWII, all of them were evacuated to Sweden, but a few has returned after 1989. There are no native speakers born after ca 1950. The Swedish language varieties in Estonia developed on different islands, and can be seen as interesting mixtures of archaisms and innovations. There has been no broad systematic studies of Estonian Swedish language structure – the syntax is virtually unknown – and in our project we intend to document Estonian Swedish before it is too late; the remaining native speakers are few and elderly. The ESST-project is a part of the ScanDiaSyn/NORMS network. Please contact Henrik Rosenkvist for further information:

SynALM on Alemannic

SynALM (Syntax of Alemannic) is a new project on the syntac of Alemannic dialects, funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). It is hosted and supported by the University of Konstanz and will start in fall 2011. The project aims to enlarge the database on Alemannic syntax by a systematic investigation of the South West part of Germany. There will be a strong connection to the results of SADS (a project on Alemannic variants spoken in Switzerland). The aim is to find out about the fine grained differences between variants in Switzerland and Germany - which arguably exist. In the context of the dialect syntax projects connected via Edisyn, SynALM will focus on doubing phenomena and more generally on apparent 'redundancies', in the area of functional categories. Among the phenomena to be investigated more closely are: DP, infinitives, left periphery, PP's. For more information please contact Ellen Brandner.

BasDiSyn on Basque dialects

Basdisyn is a research group created in 2006 and led by researchers of the University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz and IKER UMR 5478 in Bayonne whose main goal is to study syntactic variation across Basque dialects. It gathers syntacticians, dialectologists and computational linguists from seven research units in the Basque Country, France and the United States.

ARBRES on Breton dialects

ARBRES is a project led by Melanie Jouitteau who investigates syntactic variation in Breton dialects.

Yale Grammatical Diversity Project

The Yale Grammatical Diversity Project explores syntactic diversity found in varieties of English spoken in North America. Raffaella Zanuttini is the project leader.

SyHD on Hessian

SyHD (syntax Hessian dialects) is a joint project of University of Frankfurt, University of Marburg and University of Vienna, funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). The goal of the project is to systematically analyze and disclose the syntactic variation of the dialects of the federal state (Bundesland) Hessen. SyHD aims at two main 'end products' which will be available online:
1. Extensive analysis of the Hessian dialect syntax, which takes place in the systematic consideration of different linguistic sub-disciplines leading to various scientific publications. The data will be considered from a historical, variationist, and theoretical syntactic perspective.
2. 'Expert system for the Hessian dialect syntax' with two main components: data that has been collected within the project that can be used for further syntactic analysis, and maps of linguistic phenomena.

Project on Malagasy

Ileana Paul at the University of Western Ontario has started a project on syntactic variation in dialects of Malagasy. This project runs from 2011 to 2014.

DADDIPRO on Occitan Dialects

DADDIPRO (Dialectal, acquisitional, and diachronic data and investigations on subject pronouns in Gallo-Romance) is a project conducted jointly by Michèle Olivieri (Université Nice - Sophia Antipolis / CNRS UMR 7320) and Georg Kaiser (Universität Konstanz). The project (2012-2015) is funded by the ANR (France) and the DFG (Germany). The dialectal data considered in the project are oral data collected at the boundaries of Occitania, in correlation with the Occitan database THESOC.

Summary: The pronominal system of Romance languages is an extremely complex and variable morpho-syntactic domain. This project deals with a subset of this system, i.e. the subject pronouns and in particular the clitic elements which mainly occur in Gallo-Romance languages in addition to strong or non-clitic pronouns. This topic has occupied generative linguists for at least thirty years now and has led to the definition of the controversial Pro-drop Parameter. Our aim is to forward new insights into the function and the status of these subject clitics within the generative framework. This will be done by investigating these pronouns from three different perspectives, namely dialectology, acquisition and diachrony. The first objective is hence to collect and process data within these three domains. Secondly, the investigations will rely on major previous work by both teams in these domains on an array of Gallo-Romance languages. As a result, it is intended to compare the three sets of data and to analyse them conjointly in order to complement the existing Principles & Parameters theory. One of the hypotheses to be investigated is whether dialectal data may reflect stages which are found in the acquisitional and/or diachronic data with regard to the behaviour of subject clitic pronouns. This will be done by studying thoroughly both already collected data and additional data to be gathered in the fields where they are needed in order to verify the hypotheses. Finally, we intend to share our corpora with the scientific community on the internet.

COSER on Spanish dialects

COSER (Audible Corpus of Spoken Rural Spanish) [1] is a corpus of Spanish dialects which consists of recordings made in rural enclaves of the Iberian Peninsula. The first recordings were made in 1990, and recordings are still going on today. For more information about COSER please contact Ines Fernandez-Ordonez.

SPADiSyn on the syntactic variation of Spanish dialects

SPADiSyn (Spanish Dialect Syntax) [2] is a network of researchers and students focusing on the geographic varieties of Spanish. SPADiSyn is currently developing the Syntactic Atlas of Spanish (ASinEs).

Syntactic Atlas of Welsh Dialects on Welsh dialects

Syntactic Atlas of Welsh Dialects is a project conducted jointly by David Willis (University of Cambridge), Maggie Tallerman (University of Newcastle) and Bob Borsley (University of Essex) to establish the extent of variation in the syntax of present-day Welsh.

SADS on Swiss German Dialects

SADS is a project that focuses on syntactic variation in Swiss German dialects. The project has been running since 1 January 2000 till December 2013. Founded by the Swiss National Science Foundation until October 2008. The project is running at the University of Zurich and is supervised by Elvira Glaser. The publication of an atlas volume "Syntaktischer Atlas der Deutschen Schweiz" is planned.

GReNS on referential null subjects in Germanic

GReNS is a project about referential null subjects in Old Germanic and in Modern Germanic vernaculars such as Zürich German, Bavarian, Schwabian, Frisian, Yiddisch and Övdalian. It is financed by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Fund 2010–2013 and it is conducted by Henrik Rosenkvist, Lund University.

N'CLAV on Nordic languages

N'CLAV – Nordic Collaboration on Language Variation Studies is a network of researchers and research students focussing on variation across the Nordic languages. N'CLAV is a continuation and broadening of the work in ScanDiaSyn, and aims to bring research on syntactic variation together with other areas of research on language variation. The network is financed by Nordforsk, 2010–2012. For more information, see: or send an e-mail to: Maia Andréasson.

Past projects:

SAND on Dutch dialects

The SAND project involved a collaboration between the Universities of Leiden, Amsterdam, Gent, Antwerp, the Fryske Akademy and the Meertens Institute. The project ran from 2000 till 2005 and concerned itself with collecting syntactic data from varieties of Dutch (and Frisian) spoken in the Netherlands and Belgium. This data are stored in an digital database, called DynaSAND, which is available online. This database contains cartographic software that enables the generation of maps. A selection of these maps are published in two volumes of a syntactic atlas (Barbiers, S., H. Bennis, G. De Vogelaer, M. Devos and M. van der Ham (2005), Syntactic Atlas of Dutch Dialects, volume I; Barbiers, S., J. van der Auwera, H. Bennis, E. Boef, G. De Vogelaer and M. van der Ham (2008), Syntactic Atlas of the Dutch Dialects, volume II).

MIMORE on Dutch dialects

Mimore is a CLARIN funded project which ran at the Meertens Institute in 2010/2011. The main goal of Mimore was to build a search engine combining several dialect copora of Dutch. The databases that have been made interoperable are Diddd (focusing on the noun pharse), GTRP (containing morphological data of Dutch dialects) and DynaSAND (syntactic information).

Appalachian English dialects

In 2006 a project started which investigated syntactic variety in Appalachian English dialects, both among these dialects and in comparison to standard English. The project was completed in 2008. The principal investgators were Judy Bernstein (William Paterson University), Marcel den Dikken (CUNY), Christina Tortora (CUNY) and Raffaella Zanuttini (Yale).

FRED on English dialects

The Freiburg Corpus of English Dialects (FRED) was compiled by the research group 'English Dialect Syntax from a Typological Perspective', based at the English Department of the University of Freiburg, under supervision of Professor Bernd Kortmann. FRED is a monolingual spoken-language dialect corpus that contains full-length interviews with native speakers from England, Scotland, as well as (in its full version) Wales, the Hebrides, and the Isle of Man. The texts reflect the 'traditional' varieties of British English spoken in these areas during the second half of the 20th century. The primary aim of compiling FRED was to provide a sound database that helps strengthen research on morpho-syntactic variation in the British Isles.

EMK on Estonian dialects

Corpus of Estonian Dialects is a joint project of the University of Tartu and the Institute of Estonian Language, started in 1998. The corpus includes the best part of dialect data sources of the Institute of Estonian Language and of Tartu University. Most of the recordings have been made between 1960 and 1980, the oldest dates back to 1938, the latest recording was made in 1990. In total 229 recordings are included in the database.

ASIt on Italian dialects

The ASIt corpus contains dialect data of ca. 200 Northern Italian dialects. The interviews and questionnaires focus on specific syntactic phenomena, such as subject clitics, object clitics, auxiliary selection, modals and modality. The responsible institution for the ASIt database is the Information Management Systems Group at the Department of Information Engineering, University of Padua, Italy. For more information please contact Diego Pescarini.

Cordial-Sin on Portuguese dialects

The Syntax-oriented Corpus of Portuguese Dialects (CORDIAL-SIN) is a project directed towards the study of the dialectal syntactic variation of European Portuguese - within a Principles and Parameters perspective - using a corpus markup methodology. Since 1999, the project has developed and enhanced research activities on Portuguese dialect syntax.

Duplex on Portuguese dialects

DUPLEX is a three-year project (2008-2010, with an extension till 30 September 2011) aimed at promoting the study of European Portuguese dialect syntax by means of a twofold approach: (i) implementation of an online linguistic resource feeding the empirical demands of dialect syntax; (ii) theoretically-oriented investigation of concerted topics in Portuguese dialect syntax, focused on doubling and expletive constructions within a Principles and Parameters perspective.

NORMS on Scandinavian dialects

NorMS (Nordic Microcomparative Syntax) was a project directed from Tromsø, involving the Universities of Tromsø, Iceland (in Reykjavík), Lund, Helsinki, Århus, Oslo, and Trondheim (NTNU). It was a five-year investigation into microcomparative variation in the syntax of the Scandinavian languages and worked closely with the Scandinavian Dialect Syntax Project ScanDiaSyn and with the European partners of that network. The official project period for NORMS ended on 31 December 2010.

ScanDiaSyn on Scandinavian dialects

ScanDiaSyn (Scandinavian Dialect Syntax) is a project umbrella, supervised by Oystein Vangsnes, where ten Scandinavian research groups collaborate to systematically map and study the syntactic variation across the Scandinavian dialect continuum. The ten groups are spread across all of the five Nordic countries and one self-governed area (the Faroe Islands). A major outcome of this project are the Nordic Dialect Corpus and the Nordic Syntax Database, which consists of dialect speech and syntactic judgements, respectively. The material for both is a result of collection by all the groups in the network, and the technical solutions have been developed by the Text Laboratory (the group at UiO).

SANPAD on South African dialects

Mark de Vos led a three year project on variation in South African dialects: SANPAD. The goal was to examine and document the grammatical differences between various dialects and to enhance cooperation between South African researchers.

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