‘Stabilisering’ van tussentaal? | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 67, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0039-8691
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1214



In several European language areas, processes of dialect levelling and dialect loss have led to an increasing use of varieties intermediate between dialects and standard language (Auer 2005). In Flanders, these intermediate varieties – mostly referred to as tussentaal – are also penetrating contexts in which Standard Dutch used to be the norm (Grondelaers en Van Hout 2011a). While increasingly more empirical studies focus on this functional elaboration of tussentaal, a number of issues continue to be highly controversial. One of these is the so-called ‘stabilisation’ of tussentaal, viz. whether one clearly delineated tussentaal variety is emerging. Whereas Taeldeman (2008) claims that one ‘stable’ tussentaal is emerging in Flanders, Plevoets (2008) and Geeraerts (2010) contradict this claim by arguing that there is too much heterogeneity in the Flemish tussentaal usage. The present study aims at shedding more light on this issue by mapping the structure of the language repertoire in the peripheral region of West-Flanders, where several of the so-called ‘stable tussentaal features’ do not occur in the local dialect. The language use of two generations of highly educated women is studied in five settings to explore whether a stable tussentaal variety can be identified, a variety being defined as a bundle of language features characterized by linguistic cohesion, idiovarietal elements, clear pragmatic functions and emic category status. Correspondence and cluster analyses of 28 phonological and morpho-syntactic variables in 5 speech settings show that in Ieper, a ‘stable’ tussentaal variety can hardly be distinguished. On the contrary, in the linguistic space between dialect and ‘strict’ Standard Dutch (VRT-Nederlands), not one, but three clusters of correlated language features can be detected: ‘cleaned up dialect’, ‘standard language with an accent’ and ‘Ypres’ supraregional language use’. The latter cluster seems to match Taeldeman’s (2008) description of a stable tussentaal variety and hints at an incipient homogeneisation of tussentaal in West-Flanders, but the large idiolectal heterogeneity in the usage of the cluster and the lack of emic category status problematizes variety claims.


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