Sociolinguistic enregisterment through languagecultural practices

L. Cornips, V. de Rooij

Research output: Chapter in book/volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter will focus on the linguistic and cultural effects of a historical language contact process in the city of Heerlen, which was the center of the Eastern Mine District in the Dutch province of Limburg. In the beginning of the 20th century, the expanding coal mining industry attracted numerous migrants and their language varieties from within the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe (Italy, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Slovenia, Austria, and Hungary). As a result, a new language variety emerged in Heerlen which is called Heerlen Dutch (Cornips 1994). People characterize Heerlen Dutch - then and now - as neither dialect nor Dutch but something in between. Throughout the 20th century speakers inside and outside Heerlen have thus become reflexive about ways of speaking in Heerlen; i.e., for a given population of speakers, Heerlen Dutch has become a register that is linked to speakers, place and social contexts, and its forms and values have become differentiable from the other dominant language varieties spoken in Heerlen, which are dialect and Dutch. This sociohistorical process is conceptualized by Agha (2007:168) as a process of enregisterment.
This chapter will explore the effects of sociolinguistic enregisterment of Heerlen Dutch in the carnivalesque summer song Naar Talië/Naar Talia ‘To (I)taly,’ performed and uploaded onto YouTube by a band called the Getske Boys. The Getske Boys is a group of three male performers who, by selecting a particular set of linguistic forms such as dialect, Dutch, in-betweens, Italian and English, work to enregister these as local to Heerlen-Noord and the speech of the coalminers who once lived there. Their selection of specific co-occurring forms is based on perceived past patterns of co-occurrences: an experiential knowledge, accumulated over the years, of the indexical ties between linguistic forms, specific (groups of) people and a specific place.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Contact Linguistics: In honour of Pieter Muysken
EditorsNorval Smith, Tonjes Veenstra, Enoch Oladé Aboh
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2020


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