Press Release Meertens Institute

Get to work as a dialect researcher

9 February 2022

This week saw the publication of Het dialectendoeboek; de schatkamer van 90 jaar Meertens Instituut. With this publication, the Meertens Institute, which was founded in 1930 as the 'Central Bureau for the Dutch and Frisian Dialects', wants to involve society in the celebration of its 90th anniversary. And what better way to do so than to take the reader into the institute's treasure trove and set them to work as a language researcher?

For 90 years, the Meertens Institute has been engaged in collecting dialects. When Piet Meertens became its secretary on 1 July 1930, he was commissioned to make a dialect atlas. In order to fulfil that assignment, the first questionnaire was sent at the end of 1931 to some 6500 informants in the Dutch-speaking regions. The paper questionnaires continued to be sent until 2005. Then the Meertens Institute switched to sending digital questionnaires.

The dialect book

Now, more than 90 years later, a large part of the data has been made available digitally. The questionnaires can be found in the Questionnaire Bank and the resulting dialect maps in the Map Bank. Researchers of language variation make grateful use of these online collections. In The Dialect Dictionary, 41 researchers from the Netherlands and Flanders show in 37 contributions what the databases reveal. For instance, that in Groningen and Frisian the subject of a sentence can sometimes be omitted, just like in Italian. And that in Flanders the subject is sometimes mentioned three times in the same sentence. The chapters are supplemented with QR codes to encourage the reader to browse the databases.

Meertens Institute

The Meertens Institute is an Academy research institute. It studies and documents the Dutch language and Dutch culture, focusing mainly in the phenomena that shape everyday life in our society. The institute’s collections are a key component of the Netherlands’ humanities research infrastructure.

The Meertens Institute is located in Amsterdam (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 185, 1012 DK Amsterdam).

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