The Dictionary of the Southern Dutch Dialects (DSDD): a database with cartographic tools for the Southern Dutch Dialects

Abstract

The project Database of the Southern Dutch Dialects (DSDD) aims to aggregate and standardize three existing comprehensive dialect lexicographic databases of the Flemish, Brabantic and Limburgian dialects into one integrated dataset. The project will result in a harmonised dataset, an API for researchers and a portal application in which the outcome of the project will be available to a broad audience.

Although the dictionaries were explicitly set up in parallel in order to make a future aggregation possible, there are differences in methodology and they have not used the same set of concepts. There is also a significant degree of heterogeneity from a technical point of view, in terms of file formats and logical structure.

The project has set up a workflow to harmonize the data structures and to interconnect the dictionaries by adding an overarching layer of concepts. The integrated database aims to enable innovative research, especially in the field of quantitative lexicology and dialect-geographical analysis.

In the near future a user-friendly website will be created with search facilities and cartographic tools. As to the cartographic tools, they should be able to automatically generate linguistic maps: an API will feed the data from the database into the mapping tool.

The DSDD project has expressed some linguistic needs with regard to cartography. Dialect maps should be highly flexible: it must be possible for researchers to customise the map according to their research needs. Researchers should be able to select and provide their own base maps with different regions (e.g. a province, …) and to use orientations such as cities and rivers as they prefer. It must also be possible to manually cluster keywords, and to add some interpretation to the dialect map. This also includes the possibility to change the legend of the map and to select the colours of the symbols.