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Innovative constructions in Dutch Turkish: An assessment of ongoing contact-induced change*

  • A. SEZA DOĞRUÖZ (a1) and AD BACKUS (a1)


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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Address for correspondence: A. Seza Doğruöz, Tilburg University, Faculty of Humanities, PO Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The


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We would like to thank the audience at the 2007 UWM Linguistics Symposium on Formulaic Language and the 6th International Symposium on Bilingualism, as well as Elma Nap-Kolhoff, Maria Mos and anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. The research reported was made possible by a grant from NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, Grant 016-024-012).



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Innovative constructions in Dutch Turkish: An assessment of ongoing contact-induced change*

  • A. SEZA DOĞRUÖZ (a1) and AD BACKUS (a1)


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