Wednesday, 24 July 2019 04:10 GMT

Swiss researcher finds new ways to discover dialects

(MENAFN - Swissinfo) TheDialäkt Äppexternal link was just supposed to be entertaining, with a quiz that predicted users' Swiss hometown based on dialect. But when the data started piling up, linguist Adrian Leemann knew he was on to something big. Now, the Swiss researcher is taking his dialect studies back in time to understand how languages change. 

Usually, linguistic researchers might have data to analyse from twenty or thirty speakers, says Leemann, associate researcher at the University of Bern. After theDialäkt app's release in 2013,external linksome 100,000 people participated. 

'That was a bit of an 'Aha!' moment where you realise this has huge potential,' says Leemann, who at the time was a linguist and phonetician at the University of Zurich. 

Leemann, who was born in the northwestern Swiss city of Aarau and received his PhD in linguistics from the University of Bern, has always been interested in language variations. His mind latches onto changes in speaking rates, the melody of speech, and differences in vowel pronunciation. He is so distracted by sounds that he wears ear plugs and headphones to create absolute silence while he works during his train commute from Zurich to Bern. 


Swiss researcher finds new ways to discover dialects


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