Play, style, exploration and code: the linguistic recourses of teenagers of Turkish and Moroccan descent

Margreet Dorleijn, Jacomine Nortier

Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands

WS140: Multilingualism and identities across Contexts: Turkish-speaking Youth in Europe

The Turkish and Moroccan communities in the Netherlands are the two largest migrant communities in the Netherlands and highly comparable in terms of size, cultural and religious values, place of recidence, socio-economic position etc. However, the degree of maintenance, the function of their respective home languages and the way these are employed in code switching differs enormously. We will briefly survey the macro sociological and sociolinguistic factors that play a role in this difference.

On the micro level, we will distinguish four functions that Turkish and the Moroccan languages appear to have (often at the same time). These are: a) play, that is language itself as a tool for and object of fun, wit, and other types of poetic language use, b) style, that is, the use of linguistic means to construct and present ones identity, c) exploration, use of linguistic means to find out about the identity of the interlocutors and d) default mode of communication. It appears that Moroccan languages are mainly used for the first three funtions, and Turkish for the last three. This will again be related to factors on a macro level. When discussing Moroccan-Dutch data, we will address the issue that you don't need to be fluent in your L1 in order to use it as a poetic tool and to attach great symbolic and emotional value to it. When discussing Turkish-Dutch data, we will argue that the mixed code used for exploration or stylistic means differs from code switching as the default means of communication: in the latter case one should rather speak of a mixed code, where grammatical, lexical and phonological features of both Turkish and Dutch are intertwined to a high degree. We will illustrate our findings with examples from both spoken data and data from bilingual internetfora.


Peter Auer 1999: Introduction in: Peter Auer (ed.): Code-Switching in Conversation, London: Routledge, 1-24.

Ben Rampton: Styling the other. In: Journal of Sociolinguistics 3-4 1999, 421-427

Jerzy J. Smolicz, 1992: Minority languages as Core Values of Ethnic Cultures: A Study of Maintenance and Erosion of Polish,Welsh and Chinese Languages in Australia in: Willem Fase et al.: Maintenance and Loss of Minority Languages; Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, 277-306.

Session: Workshop (part 1)
Multilingualism and identities across Contexts: Turkish-speaking Youth in Europe
Friday, April 4, 2008, 10:30-12:00
room: 07