Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Going Dutch. The construction of Dutch in policy, practice and discourse (1750-1850)

The project Going Dutch investigates why the link between being or becoming Dutch, and knowledge of Standard Dutch is so often taken for granted in public discourse, by diving into its historical roots.

2014  -   2018
Gijsbert Rutten

Enduring tension

In public discourse, being Dutch and knowing Standard Dutch are often uncritically linked. The present project investigates why this link is so often taken for granted by diving into its historical roots. The link is a fairly recent product of history, established in the decades around 1800, in the early years of European nationalism. Nationalist language planning was not primarily targeted towards foreigners and foreign languages, but aimed at the integration of autochthonous minorities into the one Dutch nation. The project claims that the spread of Standard Dutch at the cost of other varieties has its origins in this period, and is the result of a nationalist ideology of homogeneisation. The leitmotiv of the project is the enduring tension between officially promoted Standard Dutch on the one hand, and ‘non-standard’ varieties on the other, in a fundamental phase of Dutch nation building. 

Interrelated topics

Focusing on the period 1750-1850, the project will show the origins of linguistic nationalism. Three tightly interrelated topics are at the core of the project. First, the project will discuss why and how the opposition of Standard and non-standard Dutch was construed in public and academic discourse on linguistic diversity. Second, it will be investigated how this opposition steered educational policies aimed at the spread of Standard Dutch. Third, the effectiveness of educational policy will be examined through an analysis of its influence on actual language use.

Going Dutch. The Construction of Dutch in Policy, Practice and Discourse, 1750-1850 is a VIDI project funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Project leader, PI and co-promotor: Gijsbert Rutten
Promotor: Marijke van der Wal
Project advisors: Joep Leerssen (Amsterdam), Richard Watts (Bern) 

Focusing on the crucial period of 1750-1850, the project will show the origins of the linguistic side of nationalism by:

  • Studying the opposition of Standard Dutch and other variaties in public and academic discourse on linguistic diversity (subproject 1 – Gijsbert Rutten)
  • Reconstructing educational policy aimed at the spread of Standard Dutch and the suppression of other varieties (subproject 2 – Bob Schoemaker)
  • Assessing policy success by examining its influence on language use (subproject 3 – Andreas Krogull).

Thus, the project will disclose the roots of linguistic nationalism prevailing in public discourse in Europe and beyond up to the present day.

Metalinguistic Perspectives on Germanic Languages. European Case Studies from Past to Present

Ed. by Gijsbert Rutten & Kristine Horner 
Oxford, 2016: Lang

In what ways has language been central to constructing, challenging and reconfiguring social and political boundaries? This volume traverses space and time to explore the construction of such boundaries. Focusing on the ways that language functions as an inclusive and divisive marker of identity, the volume includes case studies on Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium  and Luxembourg. It also explores the northern and southern borderlands of present-day Germany as well as the city of Cologne and the surrounding Ruhr area. The chapters critically engage with focused accounts of past and present language situations, practices and policies. Taken as a whole, the volume stresses the importance of studying metalinguistic perspectives as a means of enabling detailed analyses and challenging generalizations.

Authors include Kristine Horner, Gijsbert Rutten, Ivar Berg, Nils Langer, Robert Langhanke, Magali Boemer, Kevin Absillis, Jürgen Jaspers, Sarah Van Hoof, Philipp Stoeckle, John Bellamy, Geraldine Horan, Joanna Kremer and Winifred V. Davies.

For more information, see the publisher's website.

The History of Linguistics in the Context of Education

Ed. by Casper de Jonge & Gijsbert Rutten 
Special issue of the Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft

Crucial in the Going Dutch project is the issue of "implementation". In nationalist language planning, implementation is often connected to the educational domain. The combination of historical metalanguage and educational settings led to a conference - the 2014 annual colloquium of the Studienkreis Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft - and to this special issue.

Authors include Casper de Jonge, Ineke Sluiter, Tom Mackenzie, Frances Foster, Friederike Spitzl-Dupic, Gerda Hassler, Gijsbert Rutten, Hanne Kloots, Steven Gillis, John Walmsley and Els Elffers.

Past, Present and Future of a Language Border. Germanic-Romance encounters in the Low Countries

Ed. by Catharina Peersman, Gijsbert Rutten & Rik Vosters 
Berlin, 2015: De Gruyter

Important themes in the Going Dutch project are contact, nation, language planning and identity. These themes are also central to this volume, which revisits the issue of language contact and conflict in the Low Countries across space and time. The contributions deal with important sites of Germanic-Romance contact along the different language borders, covering languages such as French, Dutch, German and Luxembourgish. The volume broadens our understanding of current-day issues by integrating a historical perspective, showing how language contact and conflict operated from the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period, the 18th and 19th centuries, and into the 20th and 21st centuries.

Authors include Magali Boemer, Jeroen Darquennes, Willem Frijhoff, Kristine Horner, Rudi Janssens, M.C.A. Kessels-van der Heijde, Catharina Peersman, Gijsbert Rutten, Ulrike Vogl, Joost Vaesen, Rik Vosters, Marijke van der Wal, Richard J. Watts, Jean-Jacques Weber, Roland Willemyns.

For more information, see the publisher's website.

Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics

New in 2015: the Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics, published by De Gruyter (Berlin).

Editors: Anita Auer, Catharina Peersman, Gijsbert Rutten, Rik Vosters 
Review editor: Simon Pickl

Visit the website -- the first issues are freely available!

Norms and Usage in Language History, 1600-1900. A sociolinguistic and comparative perspective

Ed. by Gijsbert Rutten, Rik Vosters & Wim Vandenbussche 
Amsterdam & Philadelphia, 2014: John Benjamins Publishing Company

A key issues in the project is the effectiveness of language norms. The chapters in this volume discuss the interplay of language norms and language use in the history of Dutch, English, French and German between 1600 and 1900. Written by leading experts in the field, each chapter focuses on one language and one century. A substantial introductory chapter puts the twelve chapters into a comparative perspective.

Authors include: Anita Auer, Wendy Ayres-Bennett, Els Belsack, Stephan Elspass, Nils Langer, Anthony Lodge, France Martineau, Nicola McLelland, Terttu Nevalainen, Judith Nobels, Jill Puttaert, Gijsbert Rutten, Tanja Simons, Sandrine Tailleur, Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Wim Vandenbussche, Rik Vosters.

For more information, see the publisher's website.

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