“Siehs’ du, du wars (…) besser wie du hast gedacht: Du has’ Französisch gesprochen!” | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 65, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0039-8691
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1214


The present paper explores the relationship between language use and group identity by analyzing how a multiethnic group of former coal miners in the region of Limburg makes use of linguistic features belonging to . Initial findings point towards the fact that we are dealing with a variety of German with its syntactic structures deriving from Dutch and a few lexical loans from Italian and French. As pointed out in earlier studies, languages are neither automatically bounded entities nor pre-established systems linked to one specific culture, but rather processes that emerge in time and space as a continuously changing product of social interaction. Speakers draw on their linguistic resources in specific situations and develop new ways of speaking (cf. Heller 2007; Otsuji, Pennycook 2010). By scrutinizing syntactical patterns that are characteristic for the in-group speech of the informants, I will show that the flexible use of certain structures and prepositions does not occur randomly, but forms part of a linguistic practice that highlights the positive attitude of the speakers towards the group members (cf. Le Page, Tabouret-Keller 1985: 182ff.). Particular attention will be paid to extraposition and non-inversion of subject-verb order in main clauses (cf. Freywald . forthc.). Furthermore, the results found within the data suggest that there is evidence for a general easing of grammatical restrictions.


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