Dialect contact and standardization in sixteenth-century Antwerp

Funded by Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)
PhD candidate: Julie Van Ongeval
Supervisor: Rik Vosters (VUB)
Co-supervisors: Bart Lambert (VUB) and Chris De Wulf

While standardization has traditionally been described as a top-down process of normative pressure leading to variant reduction, recent empirical research shows that standard languages are more likely to emerge in the everyday language use of the wider population through bottom-up processes of dialect contact. For Dutch, such a bottom-up perspective has only been applied to the seventeenth- century Northern Netherlands, leaving the contribution of the South in this process underexposed. Furthermore, how such a bottom-up model can be embedded within a more synthetic sociolinguistic theory as well as how it relates to top-down attempts at standardization also remains largely undiscussed. To fill these empirical and theoretical lacunae, this project will be centered around the role of dialect contact in Early Modern Antwerp. Using a corpus of ego-documents and administrative texts, three different corpus linguistic studies will be conducted. The first two case studies will examine the impact of the social context on the koineization process, by zooming in on the socially disruptive Fall of Antwerp from both a macro- and a microscopic sociolinguistic perspective. The final sub-study will explore to which extent standardization is driven by top-down and/or bottom-up processes. The combination of these three studies will allow us to measure the success of bottom-up standardization against its broader sociolinguistic background.