Regional Variation in Standard Dutch Vowels

Sander van der Harst, Roeland van Hout, Hans van de Velde

Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands


This paper has a threefold aim: (1) describe regional variation within and between Standard Dutch as spoken in The Netherlands (Northern Standard Dutch) and in Belgium (Southern Standard Dutch); (2) interpret these patterns in terms of convergence/divergence and (de)standardization; (3) investigate whether the use of dynamic spectral features of vowels instead of steady state measurements results in a clearer discrimination of regional varieties.

The participants of this study are 160 speakers of standard Dutch, stratified for nationality, region, gender and age. The data are selected from a word list containing more than 300 words. All selected vowel tokens carry primary word stress and are followed by /s/. Duration, the fundamental frequency and – at 7 different points - F1, F2, F3 of the vowels are measured with Praat.

It is expected that vowel variation will be larger in these word list data than in the logatoms used in Adank et al. (2007) and that regional differences become more outspoken. But the acoustic space of the individual speakers is likely to be reduced in this word list in comparison with the more monitored reading task used in Adank et al. (see Van Berghem 1995). This might be a problem for the normalization procedures as proposed by Adank (2004) and could result in a more difficult discrimination between speakers and regions. Therefore, we want to test whether a discrimination of speakers/regions on the basis of formant dynamics is more successful than those on the basis of steady state measurements. McDougall & Nolan (2007) have shown for one vowel that the discrimination of speakers on the basis of formant dynamics can be successful.


Adank, P. (2003). Vowel Normalization in Dutch. Dissertation University of Nijmegen.

Adank, P., Van Hout, R., Van de Velde, H. (2007). An acoustic Description of the Vowels of Northern and Southern Standard Dutch II: regional Varieties. In: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, to appear.

Berghem, D. van (1995), Acoustic and Lexical Vowel Reduction. PhD, University of Amsterdam.

McDougall, K. & F. Nolan (2007). Discrimination of speakers using the formant

dynamics of /u:/ in British English. Proceedings 16th International Congress of

Phonetic Sciences, Saarbrücken, 1825-1828.

Session: Paper session
Variation 5 (Phonological)
Thursday, April 3, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 15