Renée van Bezooijen and Jan Stroop, Polder Dutch: a perceptual reality with a rosy future? Abstract Sociolinguistics Symposium 2000, 27 - 29 April, 2000, Bristol

Authors: Renée van Bezooijen and Jan Stroop

Polder Dutch: a perceptual reality with a rosy future?

Key words: language change, language variation, language and gender

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 /y/.

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