Variation and change in grammatical gender marking: the case of Dutch ethnolects

F.L.M.P. Hinskens, R. van Hout, P.C. Muysken, R.P.A. van Wijngaarden

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Abstract

Our research on variation in the expression of grammatical gender (in determiners and adnominal inflection) in present-day ethnolectal Dutch is based on interactional speech data collected among 10–12 and 18–20-year-old male adolescents with Turkish, Moroccan and non-immigrant Dutch backgrounds, born and raised in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam or Nijmegen. The cities, which both have multicultural demographic profiles, are located in different dialect areas. In the data, the realization of neuter gender appears to vary greatly; in our analyses of this variation linguistic and social parameters were included. With regard to the language-internal conditioning, grammatical and semantic dimensions have been taken into account. Apart from the speakers’ age and city of residence, the social dimensions also include background of both the speaker and the interlocutor. The outcomes shed light on three aspects. As regards conditioning factors, L1 substrates, processes of L2 acquisition of the first generations of migrants, and surrounding regional variation all play a role. As regards the place of ethnolectal variation in the speakers’ verbal repertoires, we found evidence for a stylistic role of variable gender assignment in determiners. Our data do not support the hypothesis of the cross-over of ethnolectal changes in Dutch grammatical gender marking to speakers without an immigrant background.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-100
JournalLinguistics
Volume59
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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