Department
Linguistics

Project manager
dr. Hanno Brand

Collaborators
dr. Eric Hoekstra

 

 

Summary

The focus of this research stream is mainly on the following two topics:

  • Which Frisian language phenomena are sensitive to the influence of Dutch and which ones are immune?
  • Which factors determine whether specific language phenomena in Frisian are sensitive to the influence of Dutch?

The main conclusion is that the quantified factors of frequency and analogy play a major role in the influence of Dutch on Frisian language phenomena. In the course of such an influence, we have often come across multiple causality at the various grammatical levels that determine in which way language changes persist.

From a scientific point of view, the added value lies in our understanding of the language competence of bilinguals, which is viewed as a neural network in which the strength of the connections is calculated ‘by proxy’ by measuring the frequency, while the representational distance between two units of information depends on the degree to which these units are similar, which, in turn, can be measured by applying the Levinshtein distance or a similar mechanism. This will help predict which Frisian language phenomena are bound to disappear in the future, and which stand a fair chance of survival. This, in turn, may increase the effectivity of Frisian language education: currently, much effort is wasted in trying to maintain and teach phenomena that are doomed anyway.

Below, you will find a list of key publications about this research project. Key publication Hoekstra and Slofstra 2014 (published in Language) sheds light on the way in which the various structural levels of syntax, semantics, phonology and morphology contribute to the study of a borrowed language phenomenon, and on the potential mutual dependencies. Hoekstra (2012b) shows how a current phenomenon, the Dutch word order in Frisian verb phrases, occurred as early as the seventeenth century in the work of the linguistically pure author Gysbert Japicx. In the seventeenth century, such interference was linked to complexity, while interferences in modern-day Frisian are common.