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Dialect change and its consequences for the Dutch dialect landscape. How much is due to the standard variety and how much is not?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 June 2015

Wilbert Heeringa*
Institute of German studies, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany
Frans Hinskens
Meertens Institute, The Netherlands
*Address for correspondence: Wilbert Heeringa, Institute of German studies, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, P.O. Box 2503, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany Tel.: +49 441 798 4547,


We recorded older male speakers and younger female speakers of 86 local dialects of Dutch. Using these data, we analyze and visualize the influence of standard Dutch on apparent time changes in these dialects. Focusing for the most part on variation in the sound components, we test whether (I) dialect change is mainly the result of convergence to standard Dutch, (II) sound changes in two dialects which make them converge to standard Dutch also make them more similar, and (III) sound changes in two dialects which make them diverge from standard Dutch also make them less similar. We used three-dimensional (first hypothesis) and five-dimensional Levenshtein distance implementations (second and third hypothesis). These implementations are a novel step in dialectometry and in the study of ongoing processes of language change and their consequences for the dialect landscape. The findings corroborate all three hypotheses.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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