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“Siehs’ du, du wars (…) besser wie du hast gedacht: Du has’ Französisch gesprochen!”

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Abstract

The present paper explores the relationship between language use and group identity by analyzing how a multiethnic group of former coal miners in the region of Limburg makes use of linguistic features belonging to Cité Duits. Initial findings point towards the fact that we are dealing with a variety of German with its syntactic structures deriving from Dutch and a few lexical loans from Italian and French. As pointed out in earlier studies, languages are neither automatically bounded entities nor pre-established systems linked to one specific culture, but rather processes that emerge in time and space as a continuously changing product of social interaction. Speakers draw on their linguistic resources in specific situations and develop new ways of speaking (cf. Heller 2007; Otsuji, Pennycook 2010). By scrutinizing syntactical patterns that are characteristic for the in-group speech of the informants, I will show that the flexible use of certain structures and prepositions does not occur randomly, but forms part of a linguistic practice that highlights the positive attitude of the speakers towards the group members (cf. Le Page, Tabouret-Keller 1985: 182ff.). Particular attention will be paid to extraposition and non-inversion of subject-verb order in main clauses (cf. Freywald et al. forthc.). Furthermore, the results found within the data suggest that there is evidence for a general easing of grammatical restrictions.

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... In this section, we describe some characteristics of Cité Duits as used by the above-mentioned four speakers that are either very frequent, such as the use of (in) definite articles, or salient due to the contrast between German and Dutch, as in the case of word order in the verbal cluster and extraposition (Pecht 2013(Pecht , 2015. A note of caution is necessary here, of course: we reconstruct Cité Duits from speakers who were almost 80 years old when they were recorded. ...
... Broadly speaking, Cité Duits, like the former, displays the typical properties of being a V2 language, i.e. the finite verb remains in second position and is preceded by exactly one constituent in declaratives. But, the data also reveals structures where the finite verb occupies the third position and is preceded by the subject (Pecht 2015, Pecht 2013. Following Greco and Haegeman (2016), I will refer to examples like those in (23) as non-inverted V3. ...
Article
This article investigates grammatical features of Cité Duits , a moribund in-group coalminers’ language spoken in the town of Eisden in Belgian Limburg. Based on audio data from eight multilingual speakers collected through a method of sociolinguistic interviews in 2015, I show that certain features are a fusion of Belgian Dutch, German and the Maaslands dialect spoken in this area, in addition to ‘well-known’ and ‘new’ features. Since grammatical properties of this contact variety have hardly been researched yet, this contribution aims at filling this gap by providing a first analysis of selected morphosyntactic features including negation, bare NPs, non-inverted V3s and participle formation. Building on Aboh’s hybridity approach to the emergence of grammar (2017), I suggest that Cité Duits displays a recombination of linguistic features that have become part of a stable system over the decades. The basic idea is that speakers are capable of weaving together abstract properties of different varieties present in the input. Research on this mining language is therefore an extraordinary opportunity to investigate language and dialect contact, largely because of its recent emergence and direct information about the first generation of speakers and their social ties.
... In this section, we describe some characteristics of Cité Duits as used by the above-mentioned four speakers that are either very frequent, such as the use of (in) definite articles, or salient due to the contrast between German and Dutch, as in the case of word order in the verbal cluster and extraposition (Pecht 2013(Pecht , 2015. A note of caution is necessary here, of course: we reconstruct Cité Duits from speakers who were almost 80 years old when they were recorded. ...
Article
The aim of this paper is to contribute to the sociolinguistic discussion about the need for a unified sociological theory, by applying realist social theory (RST) (Carter and Sealey, this volume) to the total linguistic fact (TLF) (Silverstein 1985) or to the semiotics of ‘new’ speech styles in heterogeneous urban spaces. We explore, with data from Belgium (Flanders, Limburg) on Citétaal and Norway on so-called kebabnorsk, the ways structure and agency are omnipresent in the enregisterment of these semiotic registers. Through media discourse analyses, we investigate essential parts of this enregisterment process, in particular the invention and diffusion of labels and the assignment of stereotypical indexical values to these speech styles and to their alleged speakers. We demonstrate, in line with other studies, that media in interplay with scholars is a key force in the enregisterment of these speech styles. In the analysed media discourse, kebabnorsk and Citétaal are constructed as a ‘mixed language’, as a countable and uniform entity, the use of which inevitably results in unemployment. The alleged language users are constructed as a homogeneous group, namely ‘young people with migrant backgrounds’. It is shown that social structure, including asymmetric power relations and language hegemonies, are omnipresent in the valorisation of these registers and that media discourses rely on language ideologies of unity and purity, ideologies central to a monolingual orientation. We advocate a translingual orientation towards language and communication in which communication transcends languages and involves negotiation of mobile resources. This orientation captures the ontology of language and communication and has, as such, the potential to empower the language users’ individual agencies.
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