Studies from German-speaking Europe
Dialäkt Äpp: Communicating dialectology to the public – crowdsourcing dialects from the public
The smartphone application Dialäkt Äpp capitalizes on the Swiss’ public interest in dialectology and features the following core functionalities: (1) users indicate their pronunciation variants of 16 words and the application predicts their local dialect, (2) users record their pronunciation of the same 16 words, which are then uploaded on a server and displayed on an interactive map. In this sense the app offers an auditory journey across the Swiss dialectal landscape. The primary goal of the free iOS application is science communication to a broad public: Dialäkt Äpp is appealing to the user and has been downloaded quite frequently (> 82 000, February 2015). This novel approach also benefits the researcher: New media allow for new data collection methods in a number of fields. In linguistics, for example, crowdsourced data has mainly been obtained through online surveys. With Dialäkt Äpp, we present a novel method of crowdsourcing linguistic variation by means of a smartphone application: with the users’ consent, we obtain pronunciation data of 16 words for thousands of dialect speakers originating from all over German-speaking Switzerland. This corpus bears potential for studies on regional variation, linguistic change, and population statistics, the latter of which has implications for forensic phonetics.
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