Says who? Language regards towards speaker groups using English loanwords in Dutch

Melissa Schuring, Laura Rosseel, Eline Zenner

Onderzoeksoutput: Unpublished abstract


BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS | This paper investigates the extent to which beliefs about the language use of speaker groups are shared within a speech community. Concretely, we experimentally uncover which speaker groups are associated with the use of a contact-induced lexical variable, namely the use English loanwords compared to native Dutch alternatives. The paper focuses on three research questions: (1) do language users have shared expectations about the use of English words in Dutch by different speaker age groups; (2) are there shared beliefs regarding the use of English by language users in different social roles (e.g. grandparent, mayor, TV personality); (3) does (unexpected) use of English by projected social role actors lead to negative evaluations? We answer these questions in a bid to better understand the link between language regards and linguistic change (Preston 2011), and the socio-cognitive processes that imbue linguistic variation with social meanings (Drager & Kirtley 2016). METHODOLOGY | Data was collected through a survey reaching 177 Belgian Dutch speakers. They reported their expectations on the use of English loanwords in a four tiered questionnaire targeting (1) expectations about English use for different age groups, (2) expectations about English use for different social roles, and (3) evaluations of that usage by various social roles through 7 point Likert scales, followed by (4) a basic demographic questionnaire collecting information on age, gender identity and language background. RESULTS | Results reveal shared expectations regarding the use of English loans by age, with a perceived peak in late adolescence carried through to early adulthood (see Fig. 1). Regarding the use of English by social role actors, factor analyses suggest three types of social roles with different perceived use of English loans: high use of English loans is associated with modern roles (e.g. rapper, gamer), whilst public (e.g. primary school teacher) and traditional roles’ (e.g. farmer) are perceived to use significantly less English in their Dutch. Finally, our results indicate that role violation (i.e. use of English loans by groups who are perceived to use them infrequently) only seems to trigger negative evaluations when the role actor is a public figure with social responsibility (e.g. mayor). IMPLICATIONS | The discussion reflects on the implications of the results in two respects. First, we interpret results against the background of the tension between age grading (Labov 1994: 84; Eckert 1997) and incrementation (Labov 2001: 455) suggesting that different age groups tend to use different types of English loanwords: English exclamatives (e.g. what the hell) function as a youth language marker, while slightly older users tend to use English as jargon (e.g. bandwidth). Second, we consider the question of the origin of language regard contrasting the top-down or bottom-up emergence of shared beliefs on speaker groups and linguistic variations more broadly (Docherty and Foulkes 2014; Drager & Kirtley 2016). References Docherty, Gerard J. & Paul Foulkes. 2014. An evaluation of usage-based approaches to the modelling of sociophonetic variability. Lingua 142. 42-56. Drager, Katie, & Joelle M. Kirtley. 2016. Awareness, Salience, and Stereotypes in Exemplar Based Models of Speech Production and Perception. In Anna M. Babel (ed .), Awareness and control in sociolinguistic research, 1-24. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Eckert, Penelope. 1997. Age as a Sociolinguistic Variable. In Florian Coulmas (ed.), The Handbook of Sociolinguistics, 151-167. Oxford: Blackwell. Labov, William. 1994. Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume 1. Malden: Blackwell. Labov, William. 2001. Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume 2. Malden: Blackwell. Preston, Dennis R. 2011. The power of language regard — discrimination, classification, comprehension, & production. Dialectologia [Special Issue II], 9–33.
Originele taal-2English
StatusPublished - 2022
EvenementNew Ways of Analyzing Variation 50 - Stanford University, San José, United States
Duur: 13 okt 202215 okt 2022


ConferenceNew Ways of Analyzing Variation 50
Land/RegioUnited States
StadSan José
Internet adres


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