Lecture | Sociolinguistcs Series
The adoption of sound change by sociolinguistic migrants
- Thursday 6 February 2020
2311 BD Leiden
This paper investigates the adoption of regional differences that are the result of on-going change in the vowel system of Dutch. Due to multiple interrelated changes, of which the most notorious is ’s ‘Polder Dutch’, the varieties of Dutch spoken in the Netherlands versus Flanders have grown wider apart. This has created new sociolinguistic variables, among them the realization of /e:,ø:,o:/, which in Flanders only have these realizations, but in the Netherlands alternate with diphthongs [ei,øy,ou]. This paper investigates whether, when, and how this variable is adopted by sociolinguistic migrants (‘SMs’): Flemish young adults who migrate to the Netherlands to start their university studies.
The SMs are compared to Netherlandic-Dutch controls over the course of nine months. Three perspectives are considered: production, perception, and processing. Previous research () has shown that sociolinguistic migrants eagerly adopt regional differences in vowel realization on a comparable time scale, by a process which [3,4] term ‘change by accommodation’. These results are not corroborated in the present experiments, but are replicated by a follow-up experiment with a different group of Flemish sociolinguistic migrants who have lived in the Netherlands for multiple years. This suggests that the adoption of variation does not take place via repeated instances of short-term accommodation, but rather via a separate process. Neurolinguistic experiments per , performed on the original group of sociolinguistic migrants, confirm this. While initially, the SMs are less sensitive to the novel [e:]~[ei] distinction, after nine months’ time they process this distinction in the same way as the Netherlandic controls.
Combining the three perspectives shows that regional variation is adopted, and that this visibly takes multiple years, but that the brain invisibly changes sooner. The different results suggest a major role for sociolinguistic salience, which has important implications for the study of language variation and change.
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