Netherlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek NWO “The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research” VENI grant for Dr. Marjoleine Sloos.


Nederlandse Organisatie voor Zuiver Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (currently Netherlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek NWO “The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research”)

Stichting Taalwetenschap

Fryske Akademy, for endowed chair Frisian

Fryslân Bank


Sloos, Marjoleine, Eduard Drenth & Wilbert Heeringa (Forthcoming). The Boarnsterhim Corpus: A Bilingual Frisian-Dutch Panel and Trend Study. In Proceedings of the 11th edition of the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference, 7-12 May 2018, Miyazaki (Japan).

Feitsma, Antonia. (1989). Changes in the pronunciation of Frisian under the influence of Netherlandic. In Deprez, K. (ed.), Language and Intergroup Relations in Flanders and in the Netherlands, 181-193. Dordrecht: Foris.

Meekma, Irénke. 1989. Frouljuspraat en it lytse ferskil. Oer útspraakferoaring yn ‘e sandhi by froulju en manlju. It Beaken 51, 115-29.

Feitsma, Tony, Els van der Geest, Frits J. van der Kuip & Irénke Meekma. 1987. Variations and development in Frisian sandhi phenomena. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 64, 81-94.

van der Kuip, Frits J. 1986. Syllabisearring yn it Frysk en it Hollânsk fan Fryskpraters. Tydskrift foar Fryske Taalkunde 2, 69-92.


2016 – to date

Project leader

Dr Marjoleine Sloos


Ir. Eduard Drenth


Dr Wilbert Heeringa

Orthographic transcriptions Frisian

Eke Born, Truus Bremer, Edo Eisma, Kobe Flapper, Renske Hooijenga, Hilde de Jong BA, Dik Nauta, Wytse Willem Pel, Janneke Spoelstra MA, Wilma Stienstra, Tineke Tamminga, Helga Zandberg

Orthographic transcriptions Dutch

Grietje Keizer-Heeringa, Theresia Schreiber, Edmee Valk-Boon BA, Rick Weggen


Andrea Garcia Ariza MA, Tessa Hummel BA, Mirte Koppenberg, Bahar Soohani PhD


Grietje Keizer-Heeringa, Dik Nauta, Theresia Schreiber



Tony Feitsma


Els van der Geest M.A., dr. Frits van der Kuip, Irénke Meekma, M.A.


This corpus is highly suitable for research in the following fields

  • bilingualism and code-switching
  • long term language change
    • especially in bilingualism
    • and minority languages
  • the phonetics and phonology of Frisian
  • real-time vs. apparent time studies into language change
  • studies into the development of reading competences of Frisian
  • frequency effects in language
  • language and ageing
  • language attitude over time


Does Frisian converge towards Dutch? That question has often been asked and some evidence seems to support that idea. To study whether the sound system of Frisian was really changing towards Dutch, The Boarnsterhim Corpus (henceforth BHC) was recorded in 1982-1984. The studies that followed from this suggest that the Frisian sound system was stable. In some respects, the distinction between Frisian and Dutch became even stronger. To further investigate whether this trend continues, the BHC2 is recorded in 2017-2019. Recordings and analyses of four generations of speech provides the opportunity to investigate the stability, variation, and change of the Frisian sound system over 100 years.

In both periods, speakers of three generations of the same families were recorded: grandmother, mother, and daughter; or grandfather, father, and grandson. The two younger generations of the first period overlap with the oldest two generations of the second period. A unique property of this corpus is that as far as possible, half of the overlapping generations in the BHC1 and the BHC2 consists of speech of the same individuals.

All speakers were recorded twice. One time they were recorded in Frisian with a native interviewer to ensure informal Frisian speech. The other time they were recorded in Dutch with a monolingual Dutch interviewer to avoid Frisian. Each recording consists of 20 read sentences, a read story (2-3 minutes), and an interview of about 40 minutes about the speaker’s use of Frisian, language attitude, and daily life activities. In the BHC1, data were recorded on cassette tapes which were digitalized in 2016. The BHC2 is a replication of the BHC1, with the same number of speakers and same age groups.

With the assistance of research assistants, interns, and volunteers, the data are annotated in Praat speech processing software. This separates the phrases, words, and sounds (with an accuracy of milliseconds). There are separate tiers (levels) for:

  • orthography
  • words
  • phonemes
  • phonetic realization
  • deletion of speech sounds
  • specific phonological processes


The Boarnsterhim Corpus (BHC) is a spoken language corpus containing bilingual Frisian-Dutch data of four generations of speakers (born between 1898 and 2000). The corpus contains two main parts: one recorded between 1984 and 1987, collected by Tony Feitsma; and one recorded between 2017 and 2019, collected by Marjoleine Sloos. Almost 30 speakers have been recorded at both moments, which make the data suitable for comparable panel and trend studies.

The corpus is still under construction and will be transcribed in Standard Frisian and Standard Dutch. It will also be POS-tagged. Eventually, the corpus will be part of the Clarin infrastructure, hosted by The Dutch Language Union.

The data are suitable for research in sociolinguistic variation and change, phonological change, variation and change in bilingualism studies, historiographic description, and also anthropology.

Students who are interested in an internship on one of the following (or related) topics are welcome to contact dr. Marjoleine Sloos bilingualism, phonetics, sociolinguistics, phonology, reading skills, language attitudes, corpus linguistics.

Interns and volunteers who are interested in the construction of the corpus (recordings, orthographic transcriptions in Dutch and/or Frisian, phonetic transcriptions, POS tagging) are also advised to contact dr. Marjoleine Sloos

Schwa-Deletion vs n-Deletion? At the intersection of generative and usage-based phonology (2016-2019)

As a postdoctoral researcher at the Fryske Akademy I investigate the phonology and phonetics of bilingualism. Native Frisian speakers are all bilingual with Dutch. To what extent does the sound system of Frisian influence the pronunciation of Dutch? And vice versa, to what extent does the sound system of Dutch influence the pronunciation–and in the long term–sound change of Frisian? By a series of experiments and the collection of corpora of spoken Frisian, I will study different aspects of the sound system of current spoken Frisian.

Frequency Effects and Phonological Grammar PhD (2009-2013)

In language change, we usually find that words with a relatively low word frequency change at a faster rate than words with a relatively high word frequency. Reversely, in  reduction processes, we observe that high-frequency words tend to change first and low-frequency words change later. How do these facts relate to variable processes in which neither analogical change nor reduction is involved? Does frequency also play a role, for instance, in stable patterns of variation or in loanword adaptation?

In my PhD dissertation I investigate phonological variation and change in three case studies: the pronunciation of the long vowel <ä> in Standard German, Dutch loanword integration in Indonesian, and sequential voicing in Japanese. It shows that frequency effects occur such that relatively high-frequency words adapt to a general phonological rule and relatively low-frequency words behave differently. This exceptional behaviour of low-frequency words may be related to their relatively unstable or opaque lexical representation or their opaque morphophonological structure.

This thesis also investigates the relation between frequency effects and grammar. It is shown that these two factors are not independent, as suggested by earlier literature, but, on the contrary, intimately related. Frequency effects are sensitive to grammatical structure. This calls for an amalgamation of phonological models which were previously regarded as disconnected.

Chinese Accents and Accented Chinese (CAAC) 2014-2016

“Chinese Accents and Accented Chinese” explored the phonetics and phonology of bilingualism and second language acquisition in which Standard Mandarin was one of the languages involved.  We organized three workshops at the Nordic Centre, Fudan University, Shanghai, in 2014, 2015 and 2016, with speakers from different universities in China, as well as from Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden,  UK and the USA. We published proceedings in 2014 and 2015.


The projects covered the following three areas.

1. Chinese accents within China

Standard Mandarin is the lingua franca of China. But, across China, we also find a large number of dialects. That raises a number of questions that are often addressed in our workshops. How do native speakers of those dialects acquire the sound and tonal system of the Standard language? In which ways do the phonological processing of bidialectal and monolingual speakers in Mandarin differ? And how does one language influence the other within the same individuals? How are bi-dialectal speakers perceived by monolingual speakers of Mandarin? Another intriguing question addresses the effect of bidialectalism on the acquisition of a third language. Do Chinese bi-dialectal speakers have an advantage over monolingual Mandarin speakers, and if so, does this affect the whole process of acquisition or is it limited to specific sounds?

2. Chinese-accented L2 acquisition

English and other (European) languages are very popular studies among Chinese students. Given profound differences between the sound systems of Chinese languages and European languages, it is not surprising that a Chinese accent becomes often apparent. What are the characteristics of Chinese-accented English, French, German, and other languages? Moreover, since Chinese is a tone language with restricted possibilities for sentence intonation, the acquisition of sentence intonation in foreign languages in an interesting field of study. These questions are approached from perception as well as production, and second language processing. Another topic of interest is the mutual intelligibility of Chinese speakers of different L2s and the mutual intelligibility between Chinese learners of a particular language and native speakers of this language. Results are relevant for a deeper understanding of second language acquisition from both a linguistic as educational perspectives.

3.Second language accent in Chinese

Chinese as a second (or foreign) language attracts a steady increasing number of students in the European Union. The acquisition and processing of tone is notoriously difficult but has been investigated almost exclusively for American English native speakers. How speakers of other native languages acquire tone in Chinese is still very much unknown. Also unclear is how tone in connected speech is acquired. The acquisition of tone forms an important field to study from linguistic and pedagogical perspective. In addition: given the similarities and dissimilarities of a sound system of a particular native language and Chinese,  we ask the question which transfer effects can be expected and observed.


The workshops were sponsored by Aarhus University (Denmark), The Fryske Akademy (KNAW, The Netherlands), and local assistance from Shanghai International Studies University and Tongji University.


China Exchange Program

Initiator and co-applicant for an individual visit of Yunyun Ran (PhD researcher, Shanghai International Studies University) to the Fryske Akademy from 1 Nov 2016-1 May 2017.

Funding organization

Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences

Grant website