Universiteit Leiden

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Rita van de Poel

PhD candidate

G.I. van de Poel MA
+31 71 527 2166

Rita van de Poel is an external PhD candidate at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society.

More information about Rita van de Poel

Fields of interest

  • Historical semantics 
  • Old Frisian language 
  • Digital Humanities 
  • Medieval Studies 
  • Corpus linguistics 
  • Medieval customary laws

Description of my research

The objective of my PhD dissertation is to examine the ways that onomasiological concepts of kinship and marriage were expressed in the Frisian legal language of the late Middle Ages (c.1200–1500). This project takes an interdisciplinary approach that makes use of both qualitative and quantitative methods. It comprises computer-aided semantic analyses of lexemes within the conceptual fields of kinship and marriage (lexical field study) in the Old Frisian language, and a text-critical analysis of Old Frisian customary laws focusing on the functions of kinship in Frisian society. By using these methods, my research will address how family networks functioned in medieval Frisia, and the role of family solidarity, marriage patterns, and household structures as gleaned from the Frisian customary laws. 

My research approach will be both semasiological as well as onomasiological: it will combine traditional semantic analyses with computational approaches used in corpus linguistics and digital humanities. I will look at the various meanings projected by groups of co-occurring words, and focus on their meaning in context, because statistically significant lexical patterns (collocations and co-occurrences) can point to elements that can be culturally significant. 

Since there is no annotated digitized corpus of the Old Frisian language available, an important part of my PhD project will be designing and constructing a useful (i.e. normalized and tokenized) digital corpus of the Old Frisian language.

PhD supervisors

  • Prof. dr. R.H. Bremmer 
  • Prof. dr. P.C.M. Hoppenbrouwers 


MA, Leiden University, English Language and Literature, with special interest in Old and Middle English and Old Frisian.

PhD candidate

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Moderne Engelstalige letterkunde


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