From its foundation in 1930, Diversity in Dutch Language and Culture has been the central theme for research and documentation in the Meertens Institute. In the first decade of its existence, Piet Meertens brought together the Dialect Committee and the Folklore Committee in one organization. From the early days on, the Meertens Institute has kept apart its two major areas of documentation and research, viz. dialectology and ethnology. Documentation and research functioned in separate groups for language and culture.

Since January 2013 the two research groups are brought together in one research department. With this new structure the Meertens Institute connects to the research area of the KNAW humanities institutes ‘Dutch culture, history and language’. The majority of the research will be thematically organized. All researchers at the Meertens Institute are appointed on a temporary basis in one or more ongoing projects in one or more research themes. These themes will have a theme leader who will take responsibility for continuity and consistency of the research that is carried out within the projects in as far as it is relevant for his or her theme.

    COGITCH

    Project leader: Louis Grijp

    Research staff: Ashley Burgoyne, Jan van Balen, Dimitrios Bountouridis, Martine de Bruin, Ellen van der Grijn

    Finance: NWO-CATCH; partners UU, UvA, Vision & Sound

    Short description:

    COGITCH (COgnition Guided Interoperability beTween Collections of musical Heritage) is a project on both traditional and early 20th century popular music, present in the audioarchives of the Meertens Institute and the Institute for Sound & Vision. The project investigates the cognitive notion of ‘hook’ (the most salient and easy-to-recall moment of a musical phrase or song). Hooks will be determined by consulting the lay audience (‘crowd sourcing’).

    Dutchness

    Project leader: Irene Stengs

    Research staff: John Helsloot, Peter Jan Margry, Irene Stengs, Marc van Oostendorp

    Finance: Meertens Institute

    Short description:

    After nine eleven and the political murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, the concept of Dutchness has been rediscovered. Many new constructions of Dutchness have emerged in political, intellectual, artistic and commercial circles. Most of the project will be based on fieldwork, archival research and interviews/questionnaires. Part of the project will focus on the parliament’s vocabulary expressing emotions related to Dutchness.

    FACT

    Project leader: Theo Meder:

    Research staff: Dolf Trieschnigg, Dong Nguyen, Marianne van Zuijlen, Iwe Muiser

    Short description:

    FACT (Folktales as Classifiable Texts) aims at developing software for the automatical description of folktales into the Dutch Folktale Database, enriching them with metadata such as language, names, keywords, genres, summaries and catalogue numbers (or folktale types). These tools will turn the Dutch Folktale Database into a sophisticated online heritage archive as well as a research tool. Furthermore, research is being done into new possible classifications and clusterings of folktales.

    Oral Transmission

    Project leader: Louis Grijp

    Research staff: Theo Meder, Martine de Bruin, Maarten van der Peet, Ellen van der Grijn, Marianne van Zuijlen

    Finance: Meertens Institute

    Short description:

    In the process of oral transmission of both folksongs and folktales some elements change while others remain stable. This research project deals with the question which elements are prone to variation and which are stable. Another question is why descendants of an original tune or tale are still recognizable. Both structural and cognitive elements might explain the nature of variability and recognizability within variation.

    Maps and grammars

    Project leader: Sjef Barbiers

    Medewerkers: Hans Bennis, Gertjan Postma, Marc van Oostendorp, Erik Tjong Kim Sang (postdoc)

    Finance: NWO

    Short description:

    The phonological, morphological and syntactic atlasses that have been published in recent years are to a certain extent traditional dialectological atlasses in that their maps show the geographic distribution of individual linguistic properties. A central hypothesis in theoretical linguistics, however, is that a dialect (or language) is not an accidental collection of individual linguistic properties. Each dialect has a grammar, a cluster of systematically interacting linguistic properties. The goal of this project is to analyze large sets of dialect data quantitatively, to model the resulting clusters theoretically and to put the (partial) grammars thus produced on geographic maps. See also the website http://ifarm.nl/maps/.

    Poetry, rhytm and metre

    Project leader: Marc van Oostendorp

    Research staff: Louis Grijp, Varun DeCastro-Arrazola

    Finance: NWO-Horizon

    Short description:

    Rhythm is a form of temporal organisation that plays a role in any systematic human activity involving sound: poetry, (non-poetic) language, and music. In music, rhythm is considered one of the dimensions of musical structure, alongside melody and timbre. In natural language, rhythm is a property that distinguished types of languages. In poetry, the metre of a verse can be described as a regular alternation of prominent and less prominent syllables. In this project the universal aspects of metre are studied alongside rhythm as a fundamental human ability.

    Impact of Circulation

    De centrale en actuele vraag binnen dit onderzoeksprogramma is wat de effecten zijn van circulatie (o.a. migratie van bevolkingsgroepen) op de sociale, economische, talige en culturele structuur van de samenleving, in heden en verleden. Het programma is een samenwerkingsverband tussen het Meertens Instituut, het Huygens ING en het IISG (samen het KNAW Humanities-cluster).

    Language and number

    Project leader: Sjef Barbiers

    Finance: NWO-Horizon

    Short description:

    Recent research shows that the core knowledge system of number consists of two nonverbal subsystems present in both newborn infants and animals. This project studies the acquisition of numerals and quantifiers such as ‘little’ and’ many’ by children. The primary data source for this study is the World Atlas of Linguistic Structures (http://wals.info/), which currently contains 2678 languages.

    Invariants in Language Change

    Project leader: Gertjan Postma

    Research staff: Ben Hermans

    Finance: Meertens Institute

    Short description:

    As the world changes, some characteristics stay unchanged. These are called invariants. For instance, the total energy of a falling ball stays constant (Newton's law). In language change, the weight of a syllable stays constant. This means that a vowel is lengthened if a consonant drops out. This project is a quest to linguistic invariants.

    Language Portal

    Project leader: Ton van der Wouden

    Research staff: Hans Broekhuis, Marc van Oostendorp, Hans Bennis, Kathrin Linke

    Finance: NWO-groot

    Short description:

    The Language Portal (http://taalportaal.org) develops a virtual language institute in which all available grammatical knowledge of Dutch and Frisian is brought together. Information about syntax, morphology and phonology is presented in a well-organized and coherent system. The website will substantially further research on the Dutch and Frisian languages. The Meertens Institute is the centre of this project in which other institutes (INL, Frisian Academy) and universities (Leiden, Utrecht) are involved.

    Life cycle of liquids

    Project leader: Marc van Oostendorp

    Research staff: Ben Hermans, Frans Hinskens, Etske Ooijevaar

    Finance: Meertens Institute

    Short description:

    This project studies the sociolinguistic and phonological make-up of the consonants /l/ and /r/ (together known as liquids), both in contemporary varieties of Dutch and in its diachronic development. For centuries, the Dutch liquids are undergoing changes. The project will use a modern type of fieldwork that combines advanced phonetic measurements with sociolinguistic methodology. For studying the historical sources, electronic sources from Nederlab will be used.

    The Birth of the Iamb in the Early Renaissance Low Countries

    Projectleider: Marc van Oostendorp

    Onderzoeker: Mirella De Sisto

    Financiering: KNAW Humanities-cluster

    Binnen dit project wordt aan de hand van een casestudy bestudeerd hoe talen veranderen door taalcontact, hoe poëtisch tradities veranderen door cultureel contact en hoe veranderingen in de taal invloed hebben op de koers van poëtische tradities. Als onderzoeksperiode wordt de 16e eeuw gekozen, een periode waarin de Lage Landen (Antwerpen, Leiden en Amsterdam) een belangrijk centrum voor internationale, culturele en intellectuele leven waren. Bestudeerd wordt hoe invloeden uit verschillende bronnen (Frankrijk en Italië) werden geïntegreerd.

    Local identities and cultural practices

    Project leader: Leonie Cornips

    Research staff: Irene Stengs

    Finance: Meertens Institute/NIAS

    This project focuses on ‘languageculture’, a concept that highlights the interrelationship of culture and language in the formation of local identity. This implies that linguistic elements (choice of language, vocabulary, grammar) are an inherent aspect of cultural practices specifically related with the local (celebrations, foods, sports, etcetera). By studying how culture and language practices reinforce each other in processes of local identity formation; the choices that are made herein; and who uses these practices when, where and why, the researchers aim at gaining insight in the power relationships between and within economical, political and cultural centres and peripheries. Languageculture in the province of Limburg will provide the empirical casus for this study. By means of fieldwork, the project will focus on the shaping and experiencing of Limburgian identity as well as various more local identities, among inhabitants and outsiders.

    The Circulation of Race? The Zwarte Piet controversy and debates on race and racism between Amsterdam, New York, and Paramaribo

    Onderzoeker: Markus Balkenhol

    Financiering: KNAW Humanities-cluster

    In dit project onderzoekt Markus Balkenhol, uitgaande van de discussie rondom het Sinterklaasfeest in Nederland, hoe noties van ras en racisme circuleren tussen Nederland, de Verenigde Staten, en het Caraibisch Gebied. Hoe beïnvloedt deze internationale, trans-Atlantische context de manier waarop in Nederland over ras gedacht en gesproken wordt? Welke vormen van solidariteit en identificatie onstaan daarbij?

    Music & Language

    Project leader: Louis Grijp

    Research staff: Marc van Oostendorp

    Finance: NWO-Horizon

    Short description:

    Music and language have a lot in common. Both are rule-governed and subject to recursion, the ability to indefinitely lengthen sentences or musical pieces. Infants acquire both music and language effortlessly, suggesting an innate ability. This project will investigate the nature of the relationship between music and language. More specific the questions will be raised whether relative pitch is an innate or a spontaneously developing skill, and whether or not it is shared with language in perception.

    Tunes & Tales

    Project leaders: Louis Grijp, Theo Meder

    Reseach staff: Peter van Kranenburg, Berit Janssen, Folgert Karsdorp, Martine de Bruin, Ellen van der Grijn, Marianne van Zuijlen

    Finance: Computational Humanities (KNAW)

    Short description:

    The hypothesis of this project is that tunes and tales both consist of motif sequences acting as vehicles of oral transmission. First, a computer program will be developed for the automatic recognition of motifs in large amounts of data. Secondly, generative models will be created to simulate oral transmission including the inherent variation. This model will be able to predict the occurrence of variable motif patterns in oral tradition over time.

    Nederlab

    Project leader: Nicoline van der Sijs

    Research staff: Sjef Barbiers, Hans Bennis, Ben Hermans, Gertjan Postma, Marc Kemps Snijders

    Finance: NWO-groot, KNAW, CLARIN, CLARIAH

    Short description:

    Nederlab (http://www.nederlab.nl/) will develop a comprehensive research corpus in the form of an infrastructure for the humanities. Dutch texts which are relevant for the history of the Dutch language and culture – from the oldest written period untill now- are brought together in digitized form. Scholars can then simultaneously search and analyse these data. This will allow humanities researchers to formulate new research questions, and to set up systematic research into the interaction of changes in culture, society, literature and language across the full history.