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Analyzing linguistic variation and change using gamification web apps: the case of German-speaking Europe


Leemann, Adrian; Derungs, Curdin; Elspaß, Stephan (2019). Analyzing linguistic variation and change using gamification web apps: the case of German-speaking Europe. PLoS ONE, 14:online.

Abstract

Research on regional linguistic variation typically involves data collection in the field. This process itself can take up several months if not years. In the present study we demonstrate how we can use web interactives in collaboration with media outlets for a fast gathering of regional, sociolinguistic data. In collaboration with SPIEGEL ONLINE and Tagesanzeiger, we developed a web interactive that predicts users’ regional backgrounds from within German-speaking Europe. More than 1.9M people have participated in the interactive, more than 770K users have provided metadata. Said metadata allowed us to capture regional variation in language as of today, which we can compare to historical survey data–enabling us to track the evolution of German in Europe over the past 40 years. We report on regional levelling of lexical variants, a process which appears to be particularly prevalent in the northern parts of German-speaking Europe. We further found an effect of (former) national and regional borders on language use. This innovative paradigm allows us to collect sociolinguistic data of an unprecedented scale–at the same time it presents significant challenges, both of which–benefits and challenges–will be discussed in this contribution.

Abstract

Research on regional linguistic variation typically involves data collection in the field. This process itself can take up several months if not years. In the present study we demonstrate how we can use web interactives in collaboration with media outlets for a fast gathering of regional, sociolinguistic data. In collaboration with SPIEGEL ONLINE and Tagesanzeiger, we developed a web interactive that predicts users’ regional backgrounds from within German-speaking Europe. More than 1.9M people have participated in the interactive, more than 770K users have provided metadata. Said metadata allowed us to capture regional variation in language as of today, which we can compare to historical survey data–enabling us to track the evolution of German in Europe over the past 40 years. We report on regional levelling of lexical variants, a process which appears to be particularly prevalent in the northern parts of German-speaking Europe. We further found an effect of (former) national and regional borders on language use. This innovative paradigm allows us to collect sociolinguistic data of an unprecedented scale–at the same time it presents significant challenges, both of which–benefits and challenges–will be discussed in this contribution.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of German Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:430 German & related languages
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:December 2019
Deposited On:15 Feb 2020 13:49
Last Modified:22 Jan 2021 15:06
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225399
Related URLs:https://www.recherche-portal.ch/permalink/f/1h21i27/ebi01_prod010850889 (Library Catalogue)

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