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Metalinguistic Perspectives on Germanic Languages

European Case Studies from Past to Present


Gijsbert Rutten and Kristine Horner

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.
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7 Knowing the Ins and Outs of Linguistic Standardization: Enregisterment of Standard Dutch and Dialect in Late 1970s Flemish TV Fiction


1 Introduction1

Broadcast media have in many European contexts been important catalysts in the type of sociolinguistic change commonly referred to as ‘standardization’. This certainly holds for public broadcasting in Flanders, the northern, officially Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. The Flemish public broadcaster VRT (Vlaamse Radio en Televisie [Flemish Radio and Television]) has always aimed at setting the norm for ‘correct’ language use (Jaspers and Van Hoof 2013; Vandenbussche 2010), as a result of which VRT-Nederlands [VRT Dutch] has up to this day been an often-used synonym for Standard Dutch in Flanders (Van de Velde and Houtermans 1999). However, the VRT has recently also been accused of increasingly allowing nonstandard Dutch in nearly all programme genres, with the exception of ‘hard news’. One nonstandard speech style in particular seems to have gained ← 131 | 132 → popularity since the 1990s, viz. tussentaal or ‘in-between language’, named after its structurally intermediate position in between Standard Dutch and the Flemish dialects. Not only are many Flemings increasingly using this hybrid colloquial style in their private lives, it is also intruding in the public sphere, entering (media) domains traditionally considered the territory of Standard Dutch. Several linguists have interpreted the success of tussentaal as a symptom of a process of ‘destandardization’ (Grondelaers and van Hout 2011; Grondelaers, van Hout and Speelman 2011; van der Horst 2008; Willemyns 2007, 2013: 245–6): in line with analyses of language ideological changes in other European contexts, Standard Dutch in Flanders is seen to lose its...

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