Dutch Turkish diverging from Turkey-Turkish - A judgment task study on how Dutch Turkish employs subordination and word order

Pelin Onar Valk


Languages in contact often start resembling each other if a considerable number of speakers of one language have competence in the other one as well, leading to what is called ‘convergence’ (Aikhenvald, 2010:1). Thus, while Turkish immigrants in the Netherlands adapt themselves to the Standard Turkish norms, their Turkish is also constantly being influenced by the Dutch they also speak. This study will investigate structural change (one of the linguistic outcomes of language contact), particularly focusing on subordination, in immigrant Turkish, a minority language in the Netherlands. There seems to be agreement in the literature that ‘analytic’ constructions (Dutch-like) are favored, and found more ‘attractive’ than ‘synthetic’ ones (Turkey(TR)-Turkish like), so the former are easily copied. To investigate this, this study used ‘comprehension’ or ‘judgment data’, (containing Likert scale and forced-choice items) in order to get a more complete picture of language contact effects in the domain of ‘subordination’ or in the minority language Dutch Turkish. Three different groups of participants, bilinguals in bilingual mode (BM), monolinguals in Turkey and bilinguals in monolingual mode (MM), were tested for this study. The ‘comprehension’ data are compared to another recent study (Onar Valk & Backus, forthc.) which also looked at the subordination but based on ‘production’ data. The results show beyond doubt that there is some kind of change going on in Dutch Turkish. The data indicated that bilinguals rate the canonical TR-Turkish as high as monolinguals do; they differ from monolinguals only in giving much more positive judgments for Dutch-like constructions in Turkish. While Onar Valk & Backus (forthc.) show that, in actual use, bilinguals prefer to use the Dutch-like constructions, their positive judgments of the conventional constructions shows that these have not been lost. They are still available in the linguistic competence of the speakers, but not used as frequently as the Dutch-like alternatives. 


contact-induced change; subordinate clauses; reported speech; Turkish; experimental data; word order; judgment task

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Working Papers of the Linguistics Circle

EISSN: 1920-440X
ISSN: 1200-3344

University of Victoria