Bilingualism and Contact-Induced Language Change: exploring variation in the Frisian verbal complex

Liefke Reitsma

    Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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    This study investigates language variation and change in a bilingual community. It presents an unprecedented amount of data on the developments in the Frisian verbal complex, providing us with ample evidence of linguistic variation and language change.

    Reitsma shows that besides Dutch-like structures new variants appear. She investigates the contribution of different social and linguistic factors to the use of these variants. Reitsma demonstrates that in the case of the verbal complex of Frisian, the only social factor that plays a role is age. Besides that, she finds a number of linguistic factors that influence the developments.

    Another remarkable finding is the large-scale cluster reduction in certain tripartite verb clusters. According to Reitsma, this could be due to linguistic insecurity. She relates this linguistic insecurity to the distance between the standard and the spoken language and coins the term ‘paradox of the norm’. This paradox refers to the tension between norm setting and language change (or preservation). On the one hand a large gap between Standard Frisian and the Frisian used in daily life may cause linguistic insecurity, which promotes language change, but on the other hand bringing the standard closer towards the spoken language could decrease the typological distance between Frisian and Dutch and thus also promote language change.

    Reitsma concludes that the changes in the Frisian verbal complex cannot be directly attributed to contact with Dutch, although the omnipresence and status of Dutch may have had its (indirect) impact on the inclination to changes in Frisian.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • de Bot, Cornelis, Supervisor
    • Hilton, Nanna Haug, Co-supervisor
    • Hoekstra, E., Co-supervisor, External person
    Award date26-Aug-2021
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Print ISBNs978-94-6423-399-5
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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