Turkish as spoken in the Netherlands (NL-Turkish) sounds “different” (unconventional) to Turkish speakers in Turkey (TR-Turkish). We claim that this is due to structural contact-induced change that is, however, located within specific lexically complex units copied from Dutch. This article investigates structural change in NL-Turkish through analyses of spoken corpora collected in the bilingual Turkish community in the Netherlands and in a monolingual community in Turkey. The analyses reveal that at the current stage of contact, NL-Turkish is not copying Dutch syntax as such, but rather translates lexically complex individual units into Turkish. Perceived semantic equivalence between Dutch units and their Turkish equivalents plays a crucial role in this translation process. Counter to expectations, the TR-Turkish data also contained unconventional units, though they differed in type, and were much less frequent than those in NL-Turkish. We conclude that synchronic variation in individual NL-Turkish units can contain the seeds of future syntactic change, which will only be visible after an increase in the type and token frequency of the changing units.
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