Dialect loss and dialect vitality in Flanders
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
International journal of the sociology of language. - The Hague, 1974, currens
, p. 73-97
University of Antwerp
Dialect loss is a relatively new but by now quite general phenomenon in Flanders (i.e., Dutch-speaking Belgium). Although the processes of dialect change and dialect loss have proceeded with great regional differences in speed and intensity in the past decades, there is a general tendency toward replacing primary dialect features of a relatively local scope by secondary dialect features that have a wider distribution and/or bear stronger resemblance to the standard Dutch equivalents. Some urban dialects, especially the dialect of the city of Antwerp, play a prominent role in this process. The implication is that the old local dialects have not made way for a generalized use of (Belgian) Standard Dutch. Present-day Flanders is evolving toward a new diglossia: Standard Dutch was and still is reserved for formal domains, but for the younger generations in many regions the dominant variety for informal colloquial speech is no longer the local dialect but a "regiolectal" variety. Every region has its own regiolect but the so-called tussentaal (literally 'language in between') of the Brabant-Antwerp dialect region is clearly dominating the linguistic scene in present-day Flanders.