Papers from the Thirteenth International Conference on Methods in Dialectology, 2008
Edited By Barry Heselwood and Clive Upton
PART II. Maps And Atlases
Part II Maps And Atlases Romanian Online Dialect Atlas 7. Identifying dialect regions: specific features vs. overall measures using the Romanian Online Dialect Atlas and multidimensional scaling Sheila Embleton, Dorin Uritescu and Eric S. Wheeler York University, Toronto, Canada 1. Introduction The Romanian Online Dialect Atlas (RODA) now provides digital access to a large volume of phonetic, morphological and common-vocabulary data for the North-west region of Romania. One of the access functions in RODA draws maps based on a multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis of the dialect distances among locations in the area, using any selected subset of the data. What are the distinct dialect sub-regions? An analysis using ‘all’ the data (unexpectedly) shows only one major sub-region with two outliers, although traditionally, the region has been considered to have many sub-regions. The MDS analysis shows not only the sub-regions, but also the degree to which these sub-regions overlap linguistically in one or more aspects. The built-in MDS analysis is only one of several functions available in RODA, which we have used to make linguistically interesting probes of large sets of the digitized data to complement and support the MDS analyses we discuss here. In doing so, we have questioned the definition of ‘dialect’ and ‘dialect area’ and are led to propose a notion of ‘dialect structure’ which contains multiple views of the data, organized hierarchically, and dependent on quantitative thresholds. 2. Romanian Online Dialect Atlas Traditionally, dialect regions are identified by linguistic features that vary from one geographic area to...
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