The complexity of linguistic norms 

Monday 16 January 2023, 12:30 pm
M.S. van der Meulen MA
prof. dr. N. van der Sijs, prof. dr. H. de Hoop
Faculty of Arts

Dutch language constructions like groter als and hele mooie auto may seem wrong, but are they really? As Marten van der Meulen’s PhD research reveals, twentieth-century Dutch grammar books show considerable variation in the evaluation of language issues. What’s wrong to one person is right to another. Linguistic issues can also develop differently, with language experts become stricter or more relaxed over time. These books appear to have a more complex relationship with actual language use than is often assumed. Statements like ‘this is becoming commonplace’ and ‘this is normal in everyday language’ tend to miss the mark. However, one case study on language rules and their application in Dutch parliamentary reports point to a link between language use and language rules. Attitude also plays a complicated role in this, which makes this dissertation an important starting point for re-evaluating the complex interplay between language norms, language use and language attitude.  

Marten van der Meulen (The Hague, 1985) studied English and linguistics at Leiden University and the University of Sydney. During his PhD at Radboud University he wrote several popular scientific books about language. He is currently employed as knowledge coordinator at Radboud University and as policy advisor at the Taalunie.