Language maintenance and shift patterns of Dutch immigrants in Turkey

Yagmur, Kutlay & Eveline van Kooij

Tilburg University, Netherlands, The


This paper presents the findings of research investigating first language attrition, language maintenance, and shift patterns of Dutch speakers in Turkey. It examines the relationship between societal factors and individual’s perception of language contact situation as reflected in their speech behavior. In total, 31 informants from various cities in Turkey took part in the study. In order to document first language attrition, language maintenance and shift patterns of Dutch speakers, a number of instruments have been utilized. By means of language use, and choice questionnaire (LUCQ), language use, attitudes, choice, preference and socio-cultural orientation of informants were measured. By using self-rating scales, lexical naming task and narration task, Dutch language skills were tested to see the degree of language attrition. Completing the same language tests, namely self-rating scales, lexical naming task and narration task, 21 informants acted as a reference group in the Netherlands. In order to provide complementary evidence to the data, an in-depth interview was carried out with 12 informants. Dutch speakers are well known for their fast shift to the mainstream language in English-dominant contexts. The findings of this study provide counter evidence for language use patterns of Dutch abroad. First of all, language shift to Turkish is very limited and Dutch speakers are keen on maintaining their Dutch and transmitting it to the younger generations. Results of lexical naming and narration task show no evidence for language loss. Slight differences are found between the immigrant group and speakers in the Dutch context. Compared to the outcomes of other research on Dutch speakers in English-dominant contexts, the Dutch immigrants in Turkey show strong language maintenance and they have fundamentally different socio-cultural orientation, the reasons of which will be explained on the basis of the interview data.

Session: Paper session
Shift 1 (Maintenance)
Thursday, April 3, 2008, 10:30-12:00
room: 12