Chapter published in:Acquiring Sociolinguistic Variation
Edited by Gunther De Vogelaer and Matthias Katerbow
[Studies in Language Variation 20] 2017
► pp. 117–154
Acquiring attitudes towards varieties of Dutch
A quantitative perspective
Even though adolescence is well-known to be a key period for the acquisition of vernacular varieties, there seems to be little research on how attitudes change during adolescence. In addition, most sociolinguistic studies on adolescent language hardly discuss developmental factors. This study tries to mend these gaps in our knowledge, by investigating how attitudes towards a number of varieties of Dutch change in Flemish children between 8 and 18 years of age. Adolescence is shown to be a period in which attitudes further emerge and change considerably. The youngest children in our sample do seem to recognize Standard Dutch as a model for their own speech, and are thus competent to distinguish between different varieties of Dutch, but they hardly attribute any non-linguistic significance to language variation. As children grow older, they realize that there is a correlation between language variation and societal prestige. In addition, they become more sensitive to the ‘covert prestige’ of, especially, the local variety, which is increasingly evaluated as indexing integrity and as a means towards social and/or in-group success. Significant parallels are revealed between sociolinguistic and psychosocial development, including 11–12-year-olds’ tendency to think in terms of ‘perceived popularity’ (Cillessen and Rose 2005), and the peak around the age of 16 in conventional and social-clique dominated reasoning about friendship (Turiel 1983; Horn 2003).
Keywords: language attitudes, children, adolescents, Dutch, Flemish, dialect, standard language, sociolinguistic competence, language acquisition
Published online: 30 September 2017
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