On Friday 1 September, Leonie Cornips (AMC), professor by special appointment of Language Culture at Maastricht University in Limburg and the Meertens Institute in Amsterdam, launched a Dialect Web App, called MaasGeluide.nl, for the Limburg dialects ‘Eèsjdes’ (the Eijsden dialect) and ‘Mestreechs’ (the Maastricht dialect).
The Dialect Web App has three goals. Dialect recording: anyone who speaks the Mestreechs or Eèsjdes dialect, in whatever form, can read out the dialect phrases and record them for others. Dialect learning: tourists, newcomers, immigrants/migrants and other long or short-term residents can use the app to hear how the dialect sounds and try to speak and record it themselves. Research: the app collects as many phrases as possible from hopefully many speakers of the same sentences in Eèsjdes and Mestreechs for linguistic research. The more people pronounce the sentences in their form of Mestreechs or Eèsjdes, the more individual differences there will be to explore. This will provide linguistics researchers with a wealth of information on how the current Mestreechs and Eèsjdes dialects are spoken, by men and women, by the elderly and children, by newcomers and settled immigrants and by speakers whose parents may or may not speak another dialect or language. It is important that everyone can participate, regardless of how they speak Eèsjdes or Mestreechs.
The app was made possible thanks to the expertise of linguists and IT developers, excellent cooperation and, last but not least, the goodwill of dialect lovers. Huub Hamers of the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University introduced Cornips to an excellent BA student (Programmer and IT Developer) named Somtochukwu (Somto) Enendu, who developed the app. The municipality of Eijsden-Margraten offered to sponsor the app, and the Meertens Institute (KNAW) offered Somto an internship. Director and professor of language and speech technology Antal van den Bosch, Leonie Cornips and especially Henk van den Heuvel and Wessel Stoop of Radboud University’s Centre for Language and Speech Technology (CLST) provided Somto with guidance and support. Many volunteers read phrases into the app.
The Dialect Web App is available online, free of charge, via recent versions of Google, Chrome and Firefox. More information about the App, can be found here.