Scholarly article on topic '“Siehs’ du, du wars (…) besser wie du hast gedacht: Du has’ Französisch gesprochen!”'

“Siehs’ du, du wars (…) besser wie du hast gedacht: Du has’ Französisch gesprochen!” Academic research paper on "Languages and literature"

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Academic research paper on topic "“Siehs’ du, du wars (…) besser wie du hast gedacht: Du has’ Französisch gesprochen!”"


Published by: Amsterdam University Press

"Siehs' du, du wars (...) besser wie du hast gedacht: Du has' Französisch gesprochen!"1

Nantke Pecht

T&T 65 (2): 149-169

DOI: 10.5117/TET2013.2.PECH


The present paper explores the relationship between language use and group identity by analyzing how a multiethnic group of former coal miners in the region of Limburg makes use of linguistic features belonging to Cite Duits. Initial findings point towards the fact that we are dealing with a hybrid German-Dutch variety with a few lexical loans from Italian and French. As pointed out in earlier studies, languages are neither automatically bounded entities nor pre-established systems linked to one specific culture, but rather processes that emerge in time and space as a continuously changing product of social interaction. Speakers draw on their linguistic resources in specific situations and develop new ways of speaking (cf. Heller 2007; otsuji, penny-cook 2010). By scrutinizing syntactical patterns that are characteristic for the in-group speech of the informants, I will show that the flexible use of certain structures and prepositions does not occur randomly, but forms part of a linguistic practice that highlights the positive attitude of the speakers towards the group members (cf. Le page, Tabouret-Keller 1985: 182ff.). particular attention will be paid to extraposition and non-inversion of subject-verb order in main clauses (cf. Freywald et al. forthc.). Furthermore, the results found within the data suggest that there is evidence for a general easing of grammatical restrictions.

Keywords: language variation, in-group speech, group identity, syntax, prepositions, linguistic practice, non-inversion of subject-verb order, extraposition

1. Introduction

The ways in which people of different ethnic and personal backgrounds use, negotiate and play with identities through language has led to linguistic features and emerging varieties which have been investigated by researchers from a number of perspectives over the past two decades, shedding new light on the complex relations between social context and language variation. Following Blommaert and Backus, language can be regarded as "a process of growth, of sequential learning of certain registers, styles, genres and linguistic varieties while shedding or altering previously existing ones" (2011: 9). In the following, I will focus on identity construction and group membership related to language use by analyzing audio data of former coal miners who worked and still live in the town of Eisden, Limburg (B), and have maintained a variety called Cité Duits when speaking amongst themselves.

As Baumann points out, "[i]dentity is (...) made-up, almost always contested, it tends to be fragile and unsure of itself; (...) [i]dentity stands and falls by the security of its borders, and the borders are ineffective unless guarded" (1992: 678-679). In assuming that identity is a loose configuration of multiple categories that are available in certain contexts rather than in others, it relates to language use as being far from a stable entity based on fixed classifications. Just like linguistic features which can be defined and redefined by its users and undergo substantial changes, identities are tied to the social relations and the concrete context.

The present paper supports the contention put forth by, for instance, Heller (cf. 2007: if.,15) and Otsuji, Pennycook (2010), that languages are not automatically bounded entities nor pre-established systems linked to one specific culture and identity, but rather processes that emerge in time and space as a continuously changing product of social interactions. Speakers draw on their linguistic resources in specific situations and develop specific ways of speaking, sometimes by adapting to external factors such as the person they are talking to, the group or the topic of conversation. Whereas Blommaert and Backus (2011) base their assumptions on the concept of 'repertoires' by supporting a dynamic view of language knowledge, Otsuji and Pennycook stress the notion of 'metrolingualism', a term that "does not assume connections between language, culture, ethnicity, nationality or geography, but rather seeks to explore how such relations are produced [and] resisted" (2010: 246).

However, the concept of language crossing, as developed by Rampton, can serve as a point of entry for the delineation of social identities. In his

ethnographic study, he explores sociolinguistic processes in multiracial urban youth culture by looking at adolescent code-switching and the evidence on stylized Asian English, Panjabi and Creole in an urban community in the South Midlands of England (cf. 1995: 4f.). It can be shown that language form and structure is affected by communicative intentions and particular speech events (cf. 1995: 345ff.). In a similar vein, several studies have investigated the link between ethnicity, speech and social relationships and emphasized the fact that firstly, deviation from the standard language cannot be tied back to incomplete language acquisition nor insufficient linguistic knowledge, but rather reflects the aptitude of the speakers to switch between several codes and to possess a wide set of resources, and secondly, is not confined to people from migrant backgrounds (cf. Jergensen 2008; Quist 2010; Cornips 2008; Dirim, Auer 2004; Wiese 2013; Jaspers 2008; Knudsen 2010; Freywald et al. forthc.). One of the first studies on urban vernaculars3 was conducted by Kotsinas in Rinkeby, a suburb of Stockholm (cf. Kotsinas 1998; Opsahl, Nistov 2010: 50), and was soon followed by extended approaches in other metropoles throughout Western Europe. In Copenhagen, the speech of high school students as an integrated part of stylistic practices such as clothing and music was investigated by Quist (multiethnolects cf. 2008; 2010). Also in Denmark, but in the city of Kege, a longitudinal study named The Koge Project was launched as a pilot study in 1987 with Turkish-Danish bilingual children and carried out over a period of more than 16 years, resulting in the development of the languaging approach (cf. Jergensen 2008) and the notion of polylingualism (cf. Meller, Jergensen 2009: 146ff.). On the other hand, Svendsen and Reyneland (2008) explored ethnolectal speech among adolescents in Oslo by combining a sociopragmatic and a functional approach in comparing lexis, prosody and syntax in discourse as a marker of identity across different Scandinavian non-standard varieties. Cornips and de Rooij's (forthc.) recent study with Surinamese young men in Rotterdam focused on processes of identification in changing discourse contexts interwoven with categories of race and place. Furthermore, Dirim and Auer (2004) developed a three-dimensional pattern for the notion of 'ethnolects' by concentrating on language use among Turkish-German adolescents, and Wiese (2013) is currently working from a dialectal point of view on a project on Kiezdeutsch, a variety originating in Berlin, where salience is given to grammatical reduction and information structure. Outside of Europe, a similar approach has been taken on by Eckert (2008) who explored the relationship of language use and ethnicity among Californian students. In addition, the relation between identity and syntactical aspects of language has been examined

by Opsahl, Nistov (2010) for Norwegian, by Ganuza (2010) for Swedish and across several Germanic speech communities by Freywald et al. (forthc.), who addressed informational-structural preferences by illustrating new word order patterns in declarative sentences.

Despite the fact that identity construction in multilingual environments has been thoroughly investigated, providing an important framework of sociolinguistic theory, the focus within these descriptions has prevalently been limited to the language use of adolescents and peer group culture. However, a diverging approach has been recently taken up by Rampton (2011), who analyzed the concept of 'crossing' among post-adolescent and middle-aged informants, stating that "it looks as though this style of speaking endures across the life-span. The acts and activities in which it is articulated may change as people get older, but crossing isn't incompatible with the process of maturation" (Rampton 2011: 288).

Taking note of this, the present paper attempts to provide an account of the way in which former coal miners in their eighties make use of their linguistic resources outside the workplace by scrutinizing short conversational excerpts and syntactical patterns that are characteristic for their in-group speech.

After the preceding presentation of studies and discussions that have developed over the past two decades on the topic of identity formation and language processes in ethnically diverse settings, this article will begin with a brief introduction to Cité Duits and will then continue with an overview of the research questions and methods applied in this study. In a second step, the informants and their contribution of data will be highlighted. Therefore, speech will be treated as an integrated part of broader stylistic practices where speakers use ethnicity deliberately when constructing social meaning through language use (cf. Maegaard 2010: 205f.) The aim of the main part of the paper is to present a first brief preliminary qualitative analysis of selected syntactic features used among the speakers, starting out with the sequence of verbal elements in Cité Duits compared to standard German and Dutch (4.1), and continuing with particular attention paid to extraposition (4.2) and non-inversion of subject-verb order in main clauses (4.3). Furthermore, the use of prepositions will be examined (5) and placed within the broader context of the grammatical system.

2. Cité Duits

Where does the terminology stem from? Whereas 'Cité' refers to the residential area of coal miners, 'Duits' is the Dutch word for the German language. The ambiguity of the expression might have derived from the fact that it is regarded by the speakers as a German variety constructed on the basis of Dutch (cf. Auer, Cornips 2013).

The origins of Cité Duits, a variety spoken in the town of Eisden, can be tied back to the language use of former coal miners who worked in the mine from the 1940s until its closure in the late 1980s, i.e. all of the speakers involved in the study were born in Eisden. Since their parents immigrated to the Belgian province of Limburg from various European countries including amongst others Hungary, Austria, Italy and Poland, the speakers all grew up in multilingual settings with Flemish (southern Dutch), French (Walloon) and the mother tongue of their families. However, taking part in a closed social setting at a young age had a strong influence on the development of their in-group language use, which turned into a language of labor when the children grew older and came to work as coal miners. One of the speakers explains:

Wat war die konversatiesprache unter all die nationalitäten? / die haben, die haben gemacht wat sie zu hause gehört haben of Deutsch / gebrochenes Deutsch /mein Vater, mein Vater hat immer gesagt von Leo en mich: ihr spricht strassendeutsch (Kohlbacher 2013)

What was the common language among all those nationalities?/they have, they have made something out of German on the basis of what they heard at home / broken German / my father, my father always told about Leo and me: 'you speak street-German'

The preceding sequence suggests that Cité Duits developed among speakers of different migratory backgrounds and was then used as a 'lingua franca' within the architectonically and socially segregated neighborhood of the coal miners.4 Nowadays, due to their age, there are only about a dozen speakers of Cité Duits left. At first glance, it seems to be a variety of German with its syntactic structures deriving from Dutch and a few lexical loans from different European languages. Nonetheless, it clearly shows deviations from both standard languages on the level of phonology, lexis and morphosyntax that cannot be left unnoticed. The aforementioned characterization is therefore rather a vague approach that leaves many

questions open - a first attempt to answer a fragment of them will be made in this paper.

A brief encounter with the data reveals that the following features can be highlighted, even though further investigations in progress may provide new and more reliable results. We observe loanwords, mainly deriving from French and Italian (maneuver, conducteur, coiffeuse), a few intersentential code switches from Cité Duits into Italian and French, often in order to flag (in)direct speech (j'ai rien vu), as well as loan translations from standard Dutch and local dialectal varieties into German and vice versa (Schonvater-Schwiegervater; gute Freitag-Karfreitag).We notice extended use of the prepositions 'van' and 'naar/nach' as well as several instances of zero determiners (maar wenn wir van Kirche kommen).5 We also see traces of what seems to be a simplification within the grammatical gender system. Furthermore, certain verbs are composed differently6 (Und Vitus sagte: "Ich war vor ihm abgestudiert").7 Verbal and adjective inflection respectively deviates from the standard patterns. In addition, case marking appears not to be obligatory in this variety, although there are a few examples in the corpus that show accusative and dative marking on the personal pronoun according to the rules of standard German (Er sagt mir: "Guten Tag, Guten Tag")? In contrast, the syntactic structure seems to follow the Dutch norm.'

3. Research questions and methods

3.1 The purpose of this paper

This paper aims to investigate how social factors and 'new' ways of speaking are intertwined by arguing that certain syntactic structures and the use of prepositions being observed among the informants of Cité Duits (CD) form part of a grid of practices and might indicate a general loosening of the grammatical system. Moreover, I address the question of whether these features occur randomly or whether they can be regarded as an active strategy that is contextually dependent due to group membership.

Prima facie, the language variety under examination provides evidence that its structure derives mainly from the Dutch language, whereas lexis and pronunciation can be tied back to German. Consider the following example compared to standard German (StG):

(1) a. CD: Siehs'du, du wars (...) besser wie du hastgedacht (AF0313J524481)

Look you you were better as you have thought 'Look, you were better than you thought.'

b. StG: Siehst du, du warst besser, als du gedacht hast.

It can be assumed that syntactic patterns deviating from standard German are the result of the social conditions in which Cité Duits developed, with Flemish having a strong impact on the variety spoken by the coal miners and, accordingly, a comparison of the three varieties will be able to show that several syntactic structures of main as well as embedded clauses confirm this hypothesis. An impact on the syntax of Cité Duits that could be ascribed solely to the Dutch variety spoken in Limburg seems to be unlikely and has been excluded since it differs from standard Dutch (StD) with respect to lexis and morphology, but not in terms of word order (cf. Cornips 2009).

3.2 The speakers

The participants under investigation include a group of former male coal miners that is comprised of linguistically and culturally mixed speakers who worked about forty years in the coal mine of Eisden. All of them were born in the 1930s and grew up in the district of Tuinwijk, even though their parents originated from different European countries. The group members do not only speak Cité Duits, but are highly fluent in Flemish, Walloon and the mother language of their parents, which is often influenced by the local dialect of their heritage country. Regarding the multilingual composition of the group with Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese and German being spoken, it is possible that the variety playing a dominant role at home in early childhood might have impaired language acquisition and use. However, the speakers use Flemish in their daily lives but, as we shall see, have continued to talk Cité Duits with each other after ceasing to work in the mine, favored by the fact that all of them still live in the same area (cf. de Hoo 2013: 6 f.).

3.3 The data

The data employed form part of a larger pool of data (approximately four hours) consisting of naturally-occurring interactions between the aforementioned group on 13th, 14th and 18th March 2012 and on the 10th of October 2013, conducted by Leonie Cornips in a well-known environment for the

speakers, an authentic room in a coal miners museum in Eisden. For the purpose of this paper, the material used is confined to four recordings of about 25.20 minutes each and three shorter recordings of 5.35, 4.45 and 10.31 minutes, respectively. A group of four men speaking Cité Duits was recorded when talking together, in total five different speakers participated. The recorder was placed in the middle of the table and the field worker tried not to intervene in order to influence the speech of the group as little as possible (cf. Labov 1994: îgff.). In a second step, the data was transcribed with ELAN, based on the conventions by Gail Jefferson for conversational analysis (cf. Sacks, Schegloff, Jefferson 1978).

4. Syntactical features in Cité Duits

4.1 The result of language contact?

The following section gives an overview of the verbal pattern developed and frequently used among the speakers of Cité Duits. A salient phenomenon in the syntactic domain is the deviation from standard German with regards to the sequence of the verbal elements. For potential readers not being familiar with the alignment of verbs in German and Dutch, a gloss and translation are followed by the canonical syntactic construction in both languages (b, c) (cf. Kaufmann 2007: 152 f.). The central elements will be printed in bold. Consider the following example:

(2) a. CD: Der her Pastor der hat niemals gegen mein Mutter kenne sagen (AF0314J40913) That here priest he has never against my mother can say

'That priest here could have never said something against my mother.'

b. StG: Der Pfarrer hat niemals etwas gegen meine Mutter

sagen können.

c. StD: De pastoor heeft nooit iets tegen mijn moeder

kunnen zeggen.

As illustrated above (2a.), the finite verb itself, in this case the perfective auxiliary 'hat', follows the regular pattern and stands in first position,

whereas the infinitive complements 'kenne(n)' and 'sagen' are in clause-final position. In spite of the mainly German lexis, the sequence of the latter ones does not correspond to the expected pattern 'sagen können' as in StG (2b.), but mirrors the syntactic structure of Dutch (2c.'kunnen zeggen') (cf. Cornips 2009; Barbiers et al. 2008).With regard to Cité Duits, changes in the order of the verbal elements can be observed in main as well as in embedded clauses:

(3) a. CD: Maar stell de vor dat der Krieg nicht war gewesen (AF0314._14.0913)

But imagine.PARTi yourself imagine.PARTICLE that the war not was been

'But imagine that the war had not happened.'

b. StG: Aber stell dir vor, dass der Krieg nicht gewesen wäre.

c. StD: Maar stel je voor dat de oorlog nooit was geweest/

geweest was.

(4) a. CD: Der ist nervös geworden wenn der ein hat gesehen der langsam war (AF0314J40913) He is nervous became when he one has seen who slow was

'He became nervous when he saw someone who was slow.'

b. StG: Er ist nervös geworden, wenn er jemanden gesehen hat,

der langsam war.

c. StD: Hij werd zenuwachtig wanneer hij iemand heeft gezien/

gezien heeft die langzaam was.

Unlike the main clause in (2a.), the examples (3a.) and (4a.) show a reversion of the finite and the non-finite parts of the predicate. Nonetheless, they all have in common that the change of the position applies to final verbal elements and that they depict the canonical Dutch structure.9 Earlier studies that compared unmarked sequences of clause final clusters in embedded clauses with two elements in standard German and Dutch have illustrated that the order in German is restricted to the sequence V2-V1 (Vi= finite verb; V2= non-finite verb embedded under Vi), whereas the sequence in Dutch is optional, leading to either V1-V2 or V2-V1. In spite of the flexibility in Dutch,

V1-V2 seems to be preferred for modal verbs (cf. Kaufmann 2007: 152 f.). Even though it has been documented that Dutch dialects show a wide range of variation, V1-V2 for modal verbs seems to be especially predominant in the Southern parts (cf. Barbiers et al. 2008: 14Q, which suggests that informal varieties tend to prefer the latter cluster.

The data considered so far indicate that the reversion of the final verbal elements applies to main clauses and throughout different types of embedded clauses. Interestingly, non-standard verb order in embedded clauses with 'dass' (CD: dat) has also been documented in spoken German and seems to be common in informal speech situations, even though it is still regarded as a deviation from the 'norm' (cf. Freywald 2008: 246ff.). Nonetheless, these constructions differ from Cité Duits insofar as they tend to place the finite verb in the second position instead of towards the end, as illustrated in the following example from a German TV channel:

(5) a. Ich weiß, dass Herr Laack hat eine Stiftung gegründet10

I know that Mr. Laack has a foundation launched 'I know that Mr. Laack has launched a foundation.'

b. StG: Ich weiß, dass Herr Laack eine Stiftung gegründet hat.

In (5a.), the auxiliary 'hat' is separated from its participle 'gegründet'. Speakers of Cité Duits, on the other hand, place both the finite auxiliary and the past participle in final position as expected in StG, but switch the order of the two final-verbal elements (3a), (6a):

(6) a. CD: Was ein Glück dat ich dich nich hab gesjnappt


What a luck that I you.ACC not have caught

'You were lucky that I didn't catch you.'

b. StG: Was für ein Glück, dass ich dich nicht erwischt habe.

StD: Wat een geluk dat ik je niet heb betrapt/ betrapt heb.

It could be argued that (3a.) and (6a.) are in this sense closer to StG than some instances of spoken German (5a.). Nevertheless, the results presented hitherto indicate that the sequence of verbal elements in Cité Duits does not correspond to StG, nor to the typical order observed in spoken language, but

is confined to the reversion offinal verbal elements and hence, resembles the canonical structure of StD, suggesting that it may occur as a result of language contact. This is not surprising. What is interesting about the speech of the coal miners is the fact that we can observe syntactic patterns that deviate from StG and StD. By first taking a look at extraposition and then at non-inversion, I will claim that the following deviations from the unmarked syntactic structures of standard German which lead to a marked structure cannot be solely explained in terms of language contact with Dutch.

4.2 Extraposition

Whereas some authors limit the notion 'extraposition' to right-dislocation of specific elements (cf. Gunthner 2009: 17f.), I will treat the terminology as "the addition of syntactical units after the close of the verbal frame" (Lambert 1976: 5) that lead to a deviation from the 'normal' syntactical structure.11While standard German declarative clauses adhere to a V2 rule whereby the finite verb is placed in second position (left verbal bracket), and non-finite verbal elements and participles stand in the last position (right verbal bracket), the middle field is filled by the remaining constituents. Syntactical elements occurring after the right bracket form part of the postfield. In embedded clauses all verbal elements occur in the right bracket (cf. example 6b.; cf. Wiese 2013: 16). Spoken German certainly differs from the standard variety and extraposition might in some cases be attributed to the influence of colloquial non-standard language (cf. Lambert 1976: 112). Nonetheless, Cité Duits seems to be very flexible in terms of the employment of the verbal bracket and the sequence of elements:

(7) a. CD: Der hetgebaut in Langklaar (AF0314J40913) He has built in Langklaar 'He has built a house in Langklaar.'

b. StG: Der hat in Langklaar gebaut.

c. StD: Die heeft in Langklaar gebouwd.

(8) a. CD: Ich wuss wohl dat er konnt singe gut (AF0314_140913)

I knew somehow that he could sing well 'I knew that he could sing well.'

b. StG: Ich wusste wohl, dass er gut singen konnte.

c. StD: Ik wist wel dat hij goed kon zingen.

As illustrated above, extraposition occurs in different types of syntactic constructions: In the main clause (7a.), the participle is placed before the adverbial complement which appears in last position, a canonical construction in English but not in languages like German or Dutch. The local adverbial ('in Langklaar') occurs not within, but after the closure of the verbal frame. Whereas (7a.) might be allegeable in terms of the oral mode (cf. Lambert 1976: ii2f.), (8a.) is highly infrequent and cannot be construed due to spoken language. In the embedded clause (8a.), the sequence of the verbal elements ('konnt singe') follows the Dutch order again, and furthermore, the obligatory predicative complement ('gut') has been moved towards the postfield, a structure that is, as far as I know, very unlikely to be found in German or Dutch (cf. Barbiers et al. 2008; Barbiers 2009).12 As shown in (8b.) and (8c.), the expected word order in both StG and StD would lead to a pattern where all verbal elements are placed in last position with the complement 'gut' preceding them. Unlike previous examples, these deviations from the canonical syntactic pattern indicate that it is not simply the Dutch syntactic structure which has been copied by the speakers.

Wiese (cf. 20i3:i5ff.), who found word order variation in declarative main clauses in Kiezdeutsch, proposes that it does "not point to a different grammar, but to a more extensive use of the options available within the frame that the verb bracket configuration in German offers" (2013: 19). Concerning Cité Duits, our data suggests that the speakers have developed a less restrictive syntactic pattern that allows not only one but different types of constructions that can neither be ascribed clearly to German or Dutch, exceeding the boundaries between pre-defined language systems and presumably "the mutually exclusive constructions of identity" (Busch 2013: 210).

4.3 Non-inversion

Germanic languages except English have an underlying syntactic V2 constraint that place the finite verb within main declarative clauses in second position. Therefore, inversion of the subject and the verb is required

whenever a main clause starts with a nonsubject (cf. Ganuza 2010: 31; Freywald et al. forthc.: 1), as demonstrated in the following:

(9) a. StG: Ich gehe zur Schule.

I go to the school

b. StG: Heute gehe ich zur Schute.

Today go I to.the school (*Heute ich gehe zur Schute).

However, deviations from the common position for the finite verb have been documented in urban vernaculars as spoken by adolescents across Europe (cf. Dirim, Auer 2004; Freywald et at. forthc.; Ganuza 2010; Opsahl, Nistov 2010; Svendsen, Reyneland 2008; Wiese 2013). It has been claimed that these syntactic features leading to the order XSV, often Adverbial-subject-verb (AdvSV), 13 are neither tied to certain linguistic backgrounds nor to incomplete acquisition, but form an integral part of the grammar of these varieties. Moreover, a recent comparative approach revealed striking parallels between Swedish, Norwegian and German vernaculars but found few examples in Dutch, "which must be considered an exception in this respect" (Freywald et at. forthc.:19). 14 As will be exemplified below, AdvSV order does occur among some speakers of Cité Duits. This is especially interesting, taking into account that the informants use southern Dutch in their daily lives and in addition, differ in considerably terms of age and social surroundings from the youths of earlier studies.

(10) a. CD: und ein Tag ich geh gucken (AF0314J40913) and one day I go look 'and one day I take a look.'

b. StG: und eines Tages gehe ich nachgucken.

c. StD: en op een dag ga ik kijken.

(11) a. CD: Und darna Vitouch ging auf Pension (AF0314_140913) And then Vitouch went on retirement 'And then Vitouch retired.'

b. StG: Und danach ging Vitouch in den Ruhestand.

c. StD: En daarna ging Vitouch met pensioen.

In (10a.) and (11a.), the clause-initial adverbials 'ein Tag' and 'darna' are immediately followed by the subject, whereas the finite verbs 'geh' and 'ging' are placed in third position. Since both StG (10b., 11b.) and StD (10c., 11c.) adhere to the V2 order in declarative clauses, the pattern AdvSV instead of AdvVS is highly unexpected. Earlier explanations point towards the relationship between these patterns and information-structural preferences, highlighting that they are not mere syntactic simplifications (cf. Wiese 2009:788) but "can be motivated with reference to discourse pragmatics" (Frey wald et at. forthc.:18). In the latter investigation, the most frequent ad-verbials occurring in first position are the equivalents of 'then', 'afterwards' and 'after this', which confirms my findings in (11a.) ('darna').

By contrast, when taking a closer look at the subject, we have 'Vitouch' as a full noun preceding the finite verb, whereas the examples provided in former studies usually contain a personal pronoun and hence, are composed of little phonetic material being unaccented (cf. Wiese 2013: 17f.; Freywald et at. forthc.:n). It can be assumed that within the group of miners, specific contexts trigger highly marked syntactic structures that are partly motivated by discourse pragmatics, but perhaps more importantly, function as markers of identity. This assumption can be proven by some of the statements made by the informants. As one of them points out:

Wir, die Jugend, hatten eine schöne Jugendzeit. Und im Nachahmen der Erwachsenen ist die Jugend meistens erfolgreich. Wir waren es. Und so entwickelte sich eine Sprache die unser Vater "Strassendeutsch" nannte, und wir uns hüteten es in seiner Gegenwart zu sprechen.15

[We, the young people, had a wonderful adolescence. And in imitating the adults the young are usually successful. We were. And this is how a language developed which our father called "street-German" and we were careful to not speak it in his presence] (translation by the author).

As mentioned before, the label "street-German" for the variety as spoken among the youth suggests that Cité Duits carried a pejorative meaning in certain contexts, being prohibited by (some of) the older generations, but, on the other hand, was regarded positively among the younger speakers. The latter formed not only their own specific way of speaking, but applied those features in order to distinguish themselves from parents and educators. This is emphasized by the conversation between the researcher (R) and two of the speakers, who underline the importance of language use and friendship groups at an early age (10-10-13):

01 I.: we hamma so gruppe gehabt, he [...]

02 R.: he en, en spraken jullie nou ook anders in die groepe? hadde

03 L. : ne, dat cité duits! dat cité duits dat war allt ( )

04 I.: [ cité duits, alles (brag)], [...] we hebben alles altijd gebruik

01 I.: we have had such group(s), he [...]

02 R.: and did you speak differently within those groups? Have you

03 L.: no, the cité german! The cité german that was all ( )

04 I.: [cité german, everything (used)], [...] we have everything always used

That the language use within the group of friends played a significant role is confirmed by L., who states, "wir van kleins ab aan habbe immer zusamme gefussballt [...] ja, ja, wir haben da cité deutsch gesproche" [when we were little we always played soccer together [...] yeah, we used to speak Cité German there] (L.10-10-13, translation by the author).

Hence, the illustrated features form part of a broader repertoire and are selected in specific social settings. What we observe are "Acts of Identity" in the LePagian sense: The individuals show a positive attitude to identify with former schoolmates and co-workers as their environment and are motivated to adopt changes to their speech. And, being multilingual and growing up in the district of Tuinwijk with several language varieties, all of them have the ability to modify their linguistic behavior (cf. Le Page, Tabouret-Keller 1985: 182ff.). In addition, following Rampton (2011), it has been demonstrated that Cité Duits is not an ephemeral phenomenon, but "still has affectively powerful connotations of peer-group familiarity, very much rooted in personal experience in a particular milieu" (Rampton 2011: 287).16

5. The importance of the context: Towards a loosening of the grammatical system?

The observations made in the syntactical domain further adumbrate that the speakers are apt to use looser structures in general and have higher lim-

its of acceptance for linguistic variation (cf. Wiese 2013: 24). That we face an easing of grammatical restrictions is confirmed by the use of non-standard prepositions, suggesting that the group is notably open to grammatical change. If the dissenting use of prepositions could be simply explained in terms of language contact, we would principally expect to find patterns such as (12a.), which looks like a transfer from Dutch with the preposition 'naar' substituting the unmarked StG 'zu(r)'.

(12) a. CD: MetPasen gingen (we) naarKirche (AF0314J40913)

On Easter went (we) to church 'On Easter-Sunday (we) went to church.'

b. StG: Ostern gingen (wir) zur Kirche.

c. StD: Met Pasen gingen (we) naar de kerk.

Nevertheless, the data reveals that the speakers do not simply reproduce linguistic features from Dutch, but are quite flexible by making use of different non-standard prepositions:

(13) a. CD: Morgens komm ich zu Hause (AF0314J40913)

In the morning come I at home 'In the morning I come home.'

b. StG: Morgens komme ich nach Hause.

c. StD: 's Ochtends kom ik naar huis.

As can be seen in (13a.-c.), in instances where 'naar'/'nach' would be required, the preposition 'zu' is employed, which in StG expresses the state of being 'at home'. However, among different speakers of German, the deviating use and the eschewal of prepositions are not uncommon, but seem to be a phenomenon bound to particular registers and informal speech (cf. Dirim, Auer 2004: 218f.; Wiese 2013: 11 ff.; 2009: 791 f.).17

It is likely that the prepositions which are applied in contexts where they violate the grammatical rules function in the same way as the use of certain syntactic structures: They form a grid of practices that marks the affiliation to the group of miners. Therefore, speaking Cité Duits can be regarded as a linguistic practice in which speakers select and combine specific linguistic features (cf. Freywald et at. forthc.). In addition, the

linguistic heterogeneity that we have observed points towards the fact that Cité Duits cannot be regarded as a pre-established fixed system but rather as a continuously changing product of social interactions that reflects different ways of being (cf. Otsuji, Pennycook 2010: 244Q. Thus, by assuming that language use is intentional among the informants (cf. Meller, Jergensen 2009: 143), it becomes apparent that the use of grammatical features and the manifestation of identity are strongly intertwined.

6. Closing remarks

The purpose of this paper was to investigate the link between language practice and the representation of identity within a group of speakers. Therefore, I addressed selected syntactic features as used among informants of Cité Duits and, despite the fact that I based my assumptions on a dynamic concept of language as opposed to fixed classifications, I compared them with the equivalent structures from German and Dutch, two 'pre-established systems'. The method applied might be debatable but, by using data from naturally-occurring speech, it became apparent that Cité Duits differs in some respects from the syntactical order in standard as well as in spoken language.

Even though certain verbal patterns resemble the unmarked sequence of elements in Dutch and have possibly developed as a result of language contact, the approach revealed that not all word order patterns can easily be traced back to one of the languages examined. For instance, extraposition of adverbials and obligatory predicative complements appears in main and embedded clauses and leads to highly marked structures that deviate from the canonical syntax. Furthermore, parallels have been found between word order patterns in declarative clauses which do not obey the V2 constraint as produced by the informants and among adolescents across contemporary urban vernaculars of former studies. Although these earlier investigations differ from the present study in terms of social conditions and contact languages, they are similar in that SV-inversion is predominantly confined to in-group interactions. Whether we face a general easing of grammatical restrictions as considered by Freywald et al. (forthc.) and Wiese (2013) cannot fully be answered. In Cité Duits, on the other hand, there is evidence for a loosening of grammatical rules, as we have witnessed above.

At the same time, the flexible use of prepositions suggests that these features do not occur randomly, but are part of a linguistic resource that highlights the positive attitude of the speakers towards the group of the

former work environment (cf. Ganuza 2010: 44). In particular, the selection of linguistic features is tied to the affiliation with the members on the grounds of a shared social identity (e.g. based on work, neighborhood, education). What looks like a transfer from Dutch at first glance demonstrates that the speakers are able to use several non-standard patterns and dispose of a high level of flexibility.

Nonetheless, it should be emphasized that the aforementioned phenomena are not found with all speakers, a fact that points towards linguistic heterogeneity (cf. Ganuza 2010: 32). Accordingly, if it is the context that makes the speakers adapt grammatically, it would be important to inspect the individual variability and take grammatical as well as discourse context into account in future studies.


AF Audio File

StD Standard Dutch

StG Standard German

CD Cité Duits/ Cité German

1. Comment on the use of French in the mine by speaker 1; AF 0313J524481. "Look, you were better than you thought: You spoke French [in the mine]!"

2. This paper is the result of a six-week traineeship in September and October 2013 at the Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam, under the supervision ofProf. Dr. Leonie Cornips. I would like to thank the institution for making the stay possible and especially Leonie Cornips for her support, and her valuable hints and comments. My thanks also go to two anonymous reviewers. Corresponding author:

3. It is still problematic how to label these linguistic practices, cf. Jaspers (2008) and Freywald et at. (forthc.).

4. The company Limburg-Maas created their own system and constructed a settlement with a supervisory committee, including hospitals and schools, which led not only to a physical but also to a mental boundary between the Belgian people from 'outside' and the Cité people from 'inside'. One of the speakers compared the circumstances to an "eilandsituatie", an island-situation (cf. Kohlbacher 2013:4f.).

5. StG: Aber wenn wir aus der Kirche kommen... (But when we leave the church...)

6. Up to this point, I have no additional information on the types of verbs. It might be interesting to do some further investigation.

7. StG: Und Vitus sagte: „Ich war mit dem Studieren früher fertig als er." (And Vitus said: "I had finished studying before he had.")

8. He said to me: "Good morning, good morning."

9. Note that the second Dutch construction is also acceptable.

10. Cf. ARD, 06.08.2006 in Freywald 2008: 246, adaptations in spelling, gloss and translation by the author.

11. Extraposition, also 'Ausklammerung' or 'unbracketing' (cf. Lambert 1976). The importance of spoken vs. written language has been claimed by several authors, but shall not be examined in detail. For a discussion cf. Lambert (1976: 38f.), for different types of 'Rechtsexpansionen' cf. Auer (1991: 144ff.) and Günthner (2009: 17 t), for Dutch cf. Barbiers (2009).

12. Based on SAND with 267 dialects of Dutch, Barbiers (cf. 2009: 1-4) shows that PCs in embedded clauses follow the sequence "toen hij wit werd" (= when he white became) but not "*toen hij werd wit" (=when he became white).

13. For the functions of fronted adverbials in AdvSV constructions cf. Freywald et al. (forthc.).

14. The corpora examined by Freywald et al. only showed three tokens of V2 violations for Dutch (forthc.).

15. The comment was made by Kohlbacher in a personal written exchange (30 Jan.2014. E-mail).

16. Rampton (2011: 287) in his study on 'crossing', for example, finds out that "there are signs of the mixed style being adjusted to the concerns and constraints of adulthood". Unfortunately, I dispose of no audio files proving that the speech of the informants contained similar linguistic features sixty years ago.

17. The different use of prepositions has also been documented in the use of written language among coal miners in the 19th century from Prussia/ Ruhr. Nevertheless, the use of zu instead of nach is not mentioned, whereas the opposite seems to be common and has been attributed to the Westphalian/ Rhenisch dialect (cf. Klenk 1997: 299). Furthermore, an anonymous reviewer pointed out that such phenomena might be traced back to another variety of German such as Silesian. Since we are dealing with speakers locally born in Eisden whose parents come from various backgrounds with different home languages, this issue still requires further research. On the other hand, the comments made by the informants indicate that it is rather unlikely that Silesian had a strong impact on the language use of the speakers (cf. above: Kohlbacher 2014).


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About the author

Nantke Pecht is a M.A.-student in European Linguistics at the Albert-Ludwigs-Uni-versity, Freiburg. She achieved her B.A. in Spanish and English language and literature in 2012. She mainly focusses on the relation between syntactical variation and sociolinguistic change. The paper is the result ofa six-week internship at the Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Leonie Cornips. E-mail address:

2013 Pecht / Amsterdam University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.