Grammatical features of a moribund coalminers’ language in a Belgian cité

Nantke Pecht*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article investigates grammatical features of Cité Duits, a moribund in-group coalminers’ language spoken in the town of Eisden in Belgian Limburg. Based on audio data from eight multilingual speakers collected through a method of sociolinguistic interviews in 2015, I show that certain features are a fusion of Belgian Dutch, German and the Maaslands dialect spoken in this area, in addition to ‘well-known’ and ‘new’ features. Since grammatical properties of this contact variety have hardly been researched yet, this contribution aims at filling this gap by providing a first analysis of selected morphosyntactic features including negation, bare NPs, non-inverted V3s and participle formation. Building on Aboh’s hybridity approach to the emergence of grammar (2017), I suggest that Cité Duits displays a recombination of linguistic features that have become part of a stable system over the decades. The basic idea is that speakers are capable of weaving together abstract properties of different varieties present in the input. Research on this mining language is therefore an extraordinary opportunity to investigate language and dialect contact, largely because of its recent emergence and direct information about the first generation of speakers and their social ties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-98
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number258
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

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