Languages and Society: Variation and Diversity
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleLET-TWM409
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Arts; Linguistics;
dr. S.A. Grondelaers
Other course modules lecturer
dr. S.A. Grondelaers
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. S.A. Grondelaers
Other course modules lecturer
dr. S.A. Grondelaers
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. F.L.M.P. Hinskens
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
PER 4  (05/04/2021 to 31/08/2021)
Starting block
Course mode
RemarksAccessible to exchange students.
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
At the end of this course you will have
  • acquired a thorough understanding of the dimensions of variation and diversity found in language(s), through the study of both regional and social varieties of Dutch, and ethnolects and heritage languages;
  • acquired (new) techniques for analyzing variation in language production (corpus analysis) and language perception (experimental tools including speaker evaluation and free response keyword extraction);
  • learned to apply these techniques to natural language data; 
  • learned to contribute linguistic expert knowledge to the standard language debates which are cropping up in all European countries and which are becoming increasingly non-factual and hysterical.     
Languages vary internally and they are constantly changing. The changes involved are either due to internal factors, and related to patterns of regional and social variation, or they are due to external factors, such as the presence of another language within the speech community. In this course you will learn how these two types of change interact, and how they can be modelled coherently within sophisticated theoretical and statistical frameworks. 
The focus of this course will be on the tension between standard languages (especially Netherlandic Dutch) and ethnolects (ethnic varieties of Dutch), as well as heritage languages (the traditional language varieties spoken by immigrant groups, but modified in the Dutch context). How do they emerge? What are their features? How are they perceived and evaluated? How do they interact with regional and social varieties of Dutch and with the languages spoken in the countries from which migrants came? Will regional and ethnolectal features continue to enter into the standard language? Also: why is it that standard languages are becoming increasingly variable, and why does that frighten and annoy both expert and lay users? 

Although the focus in this course is on variation in (standard) Dutch, the scope is much wider on account of the different nationalities and ethnicities of the students participating in it. Students and teachers all contribute their personal experiences with their local (standard) language dynamics, in debates which ultimately reveal that in spite of linguistic diversity... there are so many patterns we all agree on.

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information


Assumed previous knowledge
Basic knowledge in sociolinguistics or extra literature during the course.

Note for exchange students: you cannot take this course if your English proficiency level is not at least C1 (TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC or Cambridge). A statement from your home university won't be accepted.

Previous knowledge can be gained by
De vereiste basiskennis Sociolinguïstiek kan met een leespakket verworven worden.

Recommended materials
To be announced.

Instructional modes

Test weight30
Test typeOral exam
OpportunitiesBlock PER 4

Minimum grade

Term paper
Test weight70
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 4, Block PER 4

Minimum grade