Chat Alert! Language in Danger?

Ester Magis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


33rd TABU Dag 2012 - Groningen

Chat Alert! Language in danger?


Vrije Universiteit Brussel

In his article 'Tussentaal wordt omgangstaal in Vlaanderen' (2009) De Caluwe states that interlanguage is becoming the common colloquial speech in Flanders. He uses the features put forward by Lemahieu (2008) as his main arguments:

1. The diminution on -je or -ke.
2. The use of the je- or ge-system.
3. The inflection of articles, possessive and demonstrative pronouns and adjectives.
4. The use of a 'redundant' dat (that) with conjunctions and pronouns.

Although Lemahieu focused on Standard Dutch, these features can also be used for research of written interlanguage. This contribution examines chat language of 60 subjects, both male and female, within the five Flemish provinces (Antwerp, East-Flanders, Flemish-Brabant, Limburg and West-Flanders). Next to gender and geographical divisions age is also taken into account.

The research is based upon several online chat conversations that were fragmented and analysed. The analysis of the above-mentioned variants per participant, age and province gives an idea of the presence of interlanguage. The variants of Lemahieu are therefore an interesting tool because they provide data regarding how many times a representative selection of Flemish chatters with regard to a set of variants choose to use interlanguage in a situation in which they have the choice to use inter- or Standard language.

The conclusion resulting from this research reveals that there are indeed regional variants and there is a high percentage of interlanguage, but Standard Dutch still prevails. Therefore it is claimed that chat language does not impoverish the standard written language, but enriches it and that it rather should be considered as change in progress.

Key words
Written interlanguage, chat language, change in progress


De Caluwe, J. (2009). Tussentaal wordt omgangstaal in Vlaanderen. Nederlandse Taalkunde, jaargang 14, nummer 1, pp. 8-25.

Lemahieu, G. (2008). Tussentaal in spontane conversaties van Vlaamse jongvolwassenen (18- tot 24-jarigen). Onuitgegeven scriptie. Universiteit Gent: Vakgroep Nederlandse Taalkunde.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication33rd TABU Dag Groningen
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2012


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