Synchronic variation and loss of case
Formal and informal language in a Dutch corpus of 17th-century Amsterdam texts
A bias towards formal texts obscures our view of language change and gives a misleading impression of actual developments if ‘changes from below’ are in conflict with ‘changes from above,’ resulting from norms that are visible in particular in formal language. A corpus of 17th-century Amsterdam texts with varying levels of formality is assembled to study the loss of genitive and dative case-marking in Dutch. These results are compared with the use of present participle constructions, which serve as an extra variable to gauge how formal a text is. We argue that nominal case-marking no longer existed in informal language in 17th-century Amsterdam and that the genitive became a feature of formal norms and was hence subject to pressures from above.
Keywords: genitive, dative, formality scale, 17th-century Dutch, change from above, loss of case, present participle constructions, corpus
Published online: 11 November 2013
Cited by 4 other publications
Aalberse, Suzanne & Wessel Stoop
De Smet, Isabeau & Freek Van de Velde
Krogull, Andreas & Gijsbert Rutten
Walkden, George & Anne Breitbarth
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