The institute’s linguistic research traditionally focuses on research into contemporary variations in Dutch and historical research into past language change. Previously, the research area was restricted by the political borders of the (European) Netherlands. In keeping with the main research question, linguistic research in the coming period will expand into research on variation and change in Dutch beyond the borders of the Netherlands. To start, attention will be given to Suriname, where the first contacts have already been established.

Three theoretical perspectives

We also distinguish between three theoretical perspectives: formal, theoretical, grammatical research; anthropological sociolinguistics, which investigates the extent to which individual language users can decide to use (certain) linguistic formats; and quantitative sociolinguistics. Of course, individual research can and will utilize instruments from more than one of these three areas.

In practice, the research will be concentrated on the Netherlands’ position in a globalizing world from three aspects of its grammar: syntax; morphology; phonology. All three theoretical approaches can be applied to all three areas.


We have divided the work on our main research question in turn into three parts; to each, a number of coherent projects are devoted:

– Dutch in contact with other languages: these projects investigate from a number of perspectives how language contact affects varieties of Dutch in our present time, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere (the latter mostly in a postcolonial context);

– The history of Dutch language contact is comprised of a number of pro- jects that look at various stages in history to see how standardisation has affected Dutch varieties. It also takes into account historical processes of standardisation, which might be seen as a response to contact;

– Variable and invariable properties of Dutch: these projects take a grammatical perspective and aim at determining both which properties of Dutch seem relatively stable and which are relatively variable, both synchronically and diachronically.

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Partner IISG Partner Meertens Instituut Partner Huygens ING