Wednesday Seminar: The loss of a regional language in the Netherlands. Why toddlers give up their regional language (Limburgish) after entering preschool
Leonie Cornips, a professor and chair of “Language culture in Limburg” at the Maastricht University, The Netherlands, will give a talk on Limburgish and language loss.
This paper addresses the question of why toddlers in the province of Dutch Limburg between the ages of two and four, may give up their regional language, i.e., Limburgish, as their home language after entering preschool even when both parents speak only Limburgish at home. The following interplay of factors is held responsible. First, language ideologies inform educational practices in preschool by which Dutch is considered to be the appropriate medium for transferring new knowledge whereas Limburgish is regarded as an intimate language needed for emotional support. Second, teacher-child, and peer interactions show the negative effects of speaking Limburgish; the child’s utterance will be repeated in Dutch by the teacher and her narrative will be interrupted by Dutch dominant peers. These language socialization practices in preschool and influential peer interactions have a profound effect on language choice by toddlers who are still in the midst of their linguistic, cognitive, social, and biological development.