Chat Alert! Language in Danger? On the Chat Language of Flemish Adolescents and Young Adults

Ester Magis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Is interlanguage becoming the common colloquial speech in Flanders? De Caluwe (2009) used the four features put forward by Lemahieu (2008) to state this argument. 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 (A (Antwerp), EF (East Flanders), FB (Flemish Brabant), L (Limburg), and WF (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 analyzed. 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-390
Number of pages7
JournalUs-China Foreign Language
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • written interlanguage
  • chat language
  • change in progress
  • Flanders


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