|Key words: language change, language variation, language and
A new variety of standard Dutch, referred to by us as Polder Dutch,
seems to be developing. It appears to be mainly spoken by young
females, originating from all parts of the Netherlands and occupying
central positions in politics, science, and culture. The most conspicuous
trait is the lowering of the first element in the diphthongs /ei/,
/au/ and /œy/.
We conducted a perception experiment to gain insight into the
position of Polder Dutch in present-day Dutch society and into its
future compared to other accents of Dutch. The speech material consisted
of recordings of 6 speakers of Polder Dutch, 3 speakers of ABN (perfect
Standard Dutch), 3 speakers with a general Randstad accent, and
3 speakers with an Amsterdam accent. All were females, matched in
age and level of education. The speech fragments were judged by
4 groups of highly educated female listeners (total n=80), differing
in age (18-26 and 39-59) and regional origin (west and southeast
of the Netherlands), on scales such as 'my cup of tea - not my cup
of tea' and 'old fashioned - modern'.
Results show no main effects of listeners' age and few main effects
of listeners' regional background. However, there is a systematic
effect of speakers' accent, clustered into three groups: (1) ABN,
(2) Polder Dutch and general Randstad accent, and (3) Amsterdam
accent. Notable is the interaction between speakers' accent and
listeners' age on the scale 'my cup of tea': whereas the older listeners
express a strong preference to speak ABN over Polder Dutch, the
younger listeners judge both accents to be equally attractive.
The latter outcome, together with other findings, confirms our
impression of the successful introduction by highly educated young
women of a new prestigious variety into Dutch.
Article published on the WWW: October 1999