Persoonsdeixis in het zuidelijk Bargoens van de negentiende en de twintigste eeuw | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 69, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0039-8691
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1214



The dialects of Dutch Cant (s) spoken in the Low Countries south of the great rivers used a specific person deixis. The speaker and the addressee were not referred to by means of pronouns, as in standard Dutch, but by means of lexicalized nominal markers. Nominal person deixis, however, is less suitable for differentiation than pronominal deixis and so tends to make reference to the addressee less precise – which contributes to the deliberate incomprehensibility that a secret group language such as Dutch Cant seeks after.

This article presents a linguistic description of person deixis as found in the dialects of younger southern Dutch Cant. Most of these dialects no longer being spoken, we can describe them only on the basis of sources which have preserved them. For at least twenty dialects such written sources are available. However, apart from a few exceptions these sources are mere lists of Cant words in which examples of specific person deixis are few and far between. To establish the system of person deixis in a given Cant dialect, we need texts written in that dialect, dialogues with sentences and references to speaker and addressee. There are no texts with an adequate number of occurrences of person deixis that might make an exhaustive description of the whole domain possible, since the domain of person deixis also covers possessive and reflexive constructions as well as non-specific person deixis. The only dialects for which longer texts in younger southern Dutch Cant are available are those of Zele in the province of East-Flanders (Belgium) and the Groenstraat in Landgraaf in the southern province of Limburg (the Netherlands).

The article describes the differences between person deixis in Standard Dutch and in the dialects of younger southern Cant. To this end the available source material is used. On the basis of some fifty lists of Cant words it is shown which person markers are used in which dialects. Person deixis in the Cant of Zele and of the Groenstraat in Landgraaf is described as exhaustively as possible by the sole means of sentences from the texts available for these two places.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Bargoens; comparative grammar; Dutch Cant; person deixis; pragmatics
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