Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

The dawn of Dutch: language change in the Low Countries between 500 and 1200 AD

The main goal of this project is to answer the question: how did Dutch acquire its own, distinctive linguistic characteristics?

Duration
2009  -   2014
Funding
NWO VIDI NWO VIDI

The main goal of this project is to answer the question: how did Dutch acquire its own, distinctive linguistic characteristics? The key to this question is to be found in the Old Dutch period, roughly between the years 500 and 1200. In this period, the Low Countries witnessed a process of language contact and language change which resulted in the rise of Dutch as a more or less coherent language after 1200. 
The main research questions which this project will address are:

  • What internal variation do the Old Dutch sources display?
  • Which linguistic features did Old Dutch retain from its predecessor West-Germanic, and in which ways did it acquire its own, new features?
  • What traces of Old Dutch developments can be found in the dialects of Middle and Modern Dutch?
  • Which evidence points to language contact and language change in the Old Dutch period?

These questions will be addressed on the basis of the new empirical basis provided by the Oudnederlands Woordenboek, which almost triples the amount of Old Dutch evidence. On the synchronic level, the project will provide a detailed, systematic description of the phonology, morphology and vocabulary of Old Dutch. On the diachronic and comparative level, the Old Dutch data will be compared with the linguistic evidence from the periods preceding Old Dutch (West-Germanic, Proto-Germanic) and the periods following it (Middle and Modern Dutch). 

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