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Re: Diglossia

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg.rhiemeier@...>
Date:Thursday, September 14, 2000, 23:05
Irina Rempt wrote:
> > On Wed, 13 Sep 2000, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote: > > > Actually, quite a large pocket, encompassing the provinces of Groningen, > > Drenthe, Overijssel and the east half of Gelderland. And those people > > are all bilingual in Dutch, and quite many of them quadrilingual: they > > speak Low German, Dutch, High German and English. > > Hey, wait a minute, I live in Overijssel and I know that not *all* of > it is in a pocket speaking Low German. The dialect of Deventer is > closer to German than, say, that of Utrecht, but it's still > recognizably Dutch.
I am not an expert dialectologist, nor can I judge the situation from my own experience with the dialects concerned. But I have seen a couple of dialect maps drawing the main boundary in the area (marking off "Low Franconian" from "Low Saxon") from the mouth of the River Ijssel via Essen to Gummersbach where it joins the Benrath line. It is true that such dialect boundaries are not wholly reliable. Dialectologists tend to rely on one or two prominent features in order to classify dialects while in fact, there are several other, perhaps equally important isoglosses criss-crossing the one picked as a "dialect group boundary". Such boundaries within a dialect continuum are always to some degree arbitrary. IIRC, that line is defined by the westernmost occurence of the verbal plural ending _-t_ common to all three persons. In Low Saxon, it is _wi hebbt_ "we have", _ji hebbt_ "you have", _se hebbt_ "they have", while Low Franconian has the ending _-n_ in at least the first and third person, or so it is said. Surely the German-Dutch border also manifests itself on the dialect level; there must be quite a number of isoglosses running along it due to different superstratum influences (High German vs. Dutch). It is very well possible that (at least by now; lots of things have changed during the last 100 years concerning German and Dutch dialects) these isoglosses by far out-weigh the "t-plural line" when it comes to the overall character of the dialect. And finally, about *all* Low German dialects are closer to Dutch than to High German, and at least the westernmost are similar enough to be "recognizably Dutch" if you want to. For example, I have heard more than once that Dutch and Westphalian were mutually intelligible, but from lack of experience with these languages, I cannot comment on it. But now let's return to conlanging. Jörg.