The Dawn of Dutch: Language Change in the Low Countries between 500 and 1200 AD


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Title The Dawn of Dutch: Language Change in the Low Countries between 500 and 1200 AD
Period 02 / 2009 - 01 / 2014
Status Current
Research number OND1331770
Data Supplier NWO


The main goal of this project is to answer the question: how did Dutch acquire its own, distinctive linguistic characteristics? The key to this question is to be found in the Old Dutch period, roughly between the years 500 and 1200. In this period, the Low Countries witnessed a process of language contact and language change which resulted in the rise of Dutch as a more or less coherent language after 1200. The main research questions which this project will address are: What internal variation do the Old Dutch sources display? Which linguistic features did Old Dutch retain from its predecessor West-Germanic, and in which ways did it acquire its own, new features? What traces of Old Dutch developments can be found in the dialects of Middle and Modern Dutch? Which evidence points to language contact and language change in the Old Dutch period? These questions will be addressed on the basis of the new empirical basis provided by the Oudnederlands Woordenboek, which almost triples the amount of Old Dutch evidence. On the synchronic level, the project will provide a detailed, systematic description of the phonology, morphology and vocabulary of Old Dutch. On the diachronic and comparative level, the Old Dutch data will be compared with the linguistic evidence from the periods preceding Old Dutch (West-Germanic, Proto-Germanic) and the periods following it (Middle and Modern Dutch). Such a broad and comprehensive approach of Old Dutch is unprecedented, and promises to shed new light on the dawn of Dutch.

Abstract (NL)

Het Standaard Nederlands verschilt nogal van de zuidelijke en oostelijke dialecten in ons taalgebied. De belangrijkste verschillen zijn ontstaan in de Oudnederlandse periode, voor 1200. Dit project onderzoekt en beschrijft de Nederlandse taalgeschiedenis tussen 500 en 1200.

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Project leader Dr. M.A.C. de Vaan


D34200 Middle Ages
D36300 Germanic language and literature studies

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