Centre for Digital Humanities


Dutch Dialect Idioms database

Key words

  • Systematic collection of idiom data
  • Linguistic database
  • Dutch dialects

Short description

The ‘Dutch Dialect Idioms’ database is the renewed version of an online database of idioms in 13 Dutch dialects. The database contains well over 7,000 idioms collected from dictionaries, grammars, and idioticons of 13 dialects spoken across the Netherlands and Flanders. For each idiom its interpretation is listed (in Dutch), alongside properties such as voice, tense, aspect, modality, and basic information about its syntactic structure. This large collection of dialect idioms will be of interest to both linguists and the lay public. A second part of the data comes from structured interviews with native speakers of Dutch dialects.


In the NWO-FWO project The Syntax of Idioms, that ran from 2013 to 2017, linguists from Utrecht University and KU Leuven investigated idioms of 13 Dutch dialects. The development of the original database application ended with the finalization of the project. Software however requires continuous maintenance to keep up with technical developments, especially in the case of client-server applications. For the development of the new version of the database, a setup requiring little maintenance was therefore chosen. This is enabled by the use of SQLite, an embedded database engine and file format suitable for long-term archival of data sets. The web interface is built as a customized Datasette application. Datasette is a tool written in Python, aimed at both exploring and publishing data. Both the dataset and the source code are available under permissive licenses. The idioms and sentences in the Dutch Dialect Idioms database can be browsed per dialect and also on the grammatical properties of idioms and the grammatical manipulations used in sentences.


All data obtained are now publicly accessible and easily searchable here. Do you have questions about the database? Please contact Sterre Leufkens at s.c.leufkens@uu.nl.