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A winning idea

Not just playing at research

Munich, 05/23/2013

An online game designed to provide LMU researchers with data on the regional distribution of Italian dialect idioms has garnered an award at this year’s Prix Ars Electronica Festival. In the online game Metropolitalia, players are asked to assess Italian vernacular expressions and turns of phrase with respect to their region of origin and the probable social status of the people who use them. The results allow LMU linguists to map the geographical distribution and patterns of dispersal of non-standard idioms. - And at this year‘s Prix Ars Electronica Festival, held in Linz, Austria, the game and its inventors won an Honorable Mention in the Digital Communities category.

“We are very pleased that the game has won international recognition and we are grateful to all the players who have made it so effective. Thanks to their contributions, we have been able to add many new functions since the first version went online,” says Thomas Krefeld, Professor of Romance Philology at LMU. Krefeld developed the game in collaboration with Dr. Stephan Lücke of the IT Support Group for the Humanities, and Professor François Bry, Fabian Kneissl and Christoph Wieser of the Institute for Informatics at LMU, as part of the Play4Science project funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

Players are asked to assign a sociolinguistic rank and a region of origin to each idiom listed. In addition, they are encouraged to add expressions that they themselves use or have come across. “Linguistics must make every effort to collect – and reflect – the everyday speech of contemporary speakers,” says Thomas Krefeld. He expects that further analysis of the data collected with the assistance of Metropolitalia’s players will provide new insights into the region-specific connotations of individual idioms.

Metropolitalia went online in August 2012, and is addressed primarily to native speakers of Italian.

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