The Dutch-German Border: Relating Linguistic, Geographic and Social Distances

Folkert De Vriend, Charlotte Giesbers, Roeland Van Hout and Louis Ten Bosch

in Computing and Language Variation

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780748640300
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671380 | DOI:
The Dutch-German Border: Relating Linguistic, Geographic and Social Distances

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The Dutch-German state border south of the river Rhine was established in 1830. Before that time, the administrative borders in this region frequently changed. The Kleverlandish dialect area, which extends from Duisburg in Germany to Nijmegen in The Netherlands, crosses the state border south of the Rhine. This chapter assesses the impact of the Dutch-German state border on the linguistic characteristics of a sub-area of the Kleverlandish dialect area by relating linguistic, geographic and social distances to each other. Three models for explaining today's pattern of linguistic variation in the area are tested. In each model, another variable is used as the determinant of linguistic variation: geographic distance (continuum model), the state border (gap model), and social distance (social model). For the social model, perceptual data for friends, relatives and shopping locations are used. Testing the three models shows that nowadays the dialect variation in the research area is closely related to the existence of the state border and to the social structure of the area. The geographic spatial configuration hardly plays a role anymore.

Keywords: Dutch-German state border; Kleverlandish dialect area; linguistic variation; geographic distance; social distance; state border; Germany; Netherlands

Chapter.  5077 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Language Teaching and Learning

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