Ethnic variation: Morpho-syntactic aspects of Moroccan Dutch and Turkish Dutch

AriŽn van Wijngaarden

Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


In the course of the 20th century, the shortage of industrial workers resulted in large-scale labour migration to The Netherlands. Nationwide, Morocco and Turkey became the countries where most 'migrant workers' came from. Sooner or later, these immigrants became second language learners of Dutch.

So-called second generation migrants (i.e. those born and raised in The Netherlands) cannot be considered to be second language learners (cf. Backus 2001). Most of them speak Dutch fluently, although their way of speaking can often easily be distinguished as being non-standard. Phonological and phonetic deviations in their speech might be most prominent, but they also deviate from standard Dutch with respect to their morphology and syntax. In my presentation, I will examine some of these morpho-syntactic characteristics of second generation Moroccan Dutch and Turkish Dutch as observed in a corpus of ethnolectal speech collected in a stratified random sample of speakers. In particular, I will discuss the way in which these speakers use pronouns in prepositional phrases.

In standard Dutch, pronouns preceded by a preposition normally refer to an animate object, as in (1) and (2). To refer to inanimate objects, the neuter pronoun (e.g. het) is replaced by an R-word like er, as in (3). The resulting combination (e.g. ervan) is traditionally called pronominal adverb:

(1) Jan houdt van hem. [masc, + animate]

'Jan loves him.'

(2) Jan houdt van haar. [fem, + animate]

'Jan loves her.'

(3a) * Jan houdt van het. [neut, - animate]

'Jan likes it.'

(3b) Jan houdt ervan.

'Jan likes it.'

Although ervan in (3b) is written as one word, pronominal adverbs are split up very often, as in (3c):

(3c) Jan houdt er niet van.

'Jan doesn't like it.'

In our corpus, several instances of non-standardlike use of pronouns in prepositional phrases have been found. These include (a) the omission of er, (b) inanimate pronouns preceded by prepositions and (c) deviations from standard Dutch with respect to splitting up pronominal adverbs. I will discuss these examples and examine the possible 'roots' of these phenomena, including (but not necessarily limited to) substrates, second language acquisition and surrounding local non-standard varieties of Dutch.

Session: POSTERS: Focus on variation, migration, minority languages
Thursday, April 3, 2008, 12:45-15:45
room: foyer