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Lecture | Sociolinguistics Series

Citizen Science and Minority Language Sociolinguistics: the Stimmen Project

Friday 5 February 2021
LUCL Sociolinguistics Series 2021/2022
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It is often argued that further theory development in linguistics, and particularly in sociolinguistics, depends on new insights from contexts that include lesser-used varieties in multilingual settings (Meyerhoff & Nagy 2008). However, the lack of usable recordings of (speech) data from minority language speakers in such settings can present researchers with obvious challenges.

The Stimmen (‘Voices’ in Frisian) project focuses on using a citizen science methodology to research language variation and change in minority language areas. In this talk the Stimmen smartphone application is showcased. The app combines previous approaches in a gamified citizen science app, particularly directed at users of minority languages in the Netherlands. The users can do their own data collection, but also post their questions and concerns about language to their own community in an open-to-all language map.
In this paper I show overall findings from the Stimmen project, alongside examples public engagement in the documentation and research efforts of the minority languages in the north of the Netherlands. More than 15,000 users have contributed in Stimmen, and more than 46,000 speech recordings have been made, predominantly in Frisian. In the discussion of my paper I reflect on the methodological caveats of the project, particularly data validity, ethical considerations, and issues of representation. I close off with some reflections about the role of citizen science and crowdsourcing for sociolinguistics.

Sociolinguistics website

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