Nordic Noir

In a short essay, Karina van Dalen-Oskam describes some aspects of naming in fiction. She lists some of the questions that the Namescape project may help to answer. The Dutch version of the essay was published on entitled Nordic Noir: waar komt commissaris Van Veeteren vandaan?

Nordic Noir: a background check on Inspector Van Veeteren

I do not read crime novels, generally. I happen to read and enjoy novels of all kinds, including science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and gothic novels. But not detective stories, whodunnits, crime novels, or whatever they are called. So how did I end up with Inspector Van Veeteren, the protagonist of a series of crime novels written by the Swedish author Håkan Nesser?

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Namescape: Mapping the Landscape of Names in Modern Dutch Literature is a demonstrator project granted in the third CLARIN-NL call. It runs from 15 March 2012 until April 1st 2013. Partners in the project are the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, the University of Amsterdam, and the Institute for Dutch Lexicology (CLARIN center).

Recent research has conclusively proven names in literary works can only be put fully into perspective when studied in a wider context (landscape) of names either in the same text or in related material (the onymic landscape or “namescape”). Research on large corpora is needed to gain a better understanding of e.g. what is characteristic for a certain period, genre, author or cultural region. The data necessary for research on this scale simply does not exist yet. The proposed project aims to fill the need by annotating a substantial amount of literary works with a rich tag set, thereby enabling the participating parties to perform their research in more depth than previously possible. Several exploratory visualization tools will help the scholar to answer old questions and uncover many more new ones, which can be addressed using the demonstrator. The main tools will be made available as CLARIN compliant web services for use in other contexts.