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An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

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Volume 51, Issue 5


Macro and micro perspectives on the distribution of English in Dutch: A quantitative usage-based analysis of job ads

Eline Zenner
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  • University of Leuven/ FWO Flanders, Blijde-Inkomststraat 21, P.O. Box 3308, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
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/ Dirk Speelman / Dirk Geeraerts
Published Online: 2013-08-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0036


The world-wide spread of English is one of the most visible symptoms of globalization. In weak contact settings such as Western Europe, where contact with English is usually indirect, remote and asymmetrical, the English language started diffusing at a hitherto unknown rate in the second half of the twentieth century. Crucially, this diffusion happens at two different levels. First, on the macro-level, English is more and more used as a language of (international) communication. Second, on the micro-level, English is intruding in local languages, most notably by means of lexical borrowing. So far, the macro- and micro-level of linguistic influence are hardly ever linked or simultaneously studied. Nevertheless, as will be shown in this paper, it is interesting to investigate whether a connection between both levels exists. Specifically, we present a quantitative multivariate comparison of the features underlying the choice for English at both levels of analyses, using a diachronic corpus of over 16 000 job ads published in two Dutch job ad magazines. On the macro-level, we verify what communicative and situational parameters (e.g., branch of industry of the recruiter) determine the choice for and distribution of ads written entirely in English. On the micro-level, we verify the impact of the same set of parameters on the choice for inserting English elements in ads where Dutch is the matrix language. Using two multiple logistic regression models, we can verify to which extent the mechanisms underlying language choice at both levels are different. Results show that a large difference exists in the basic proportion of English at both levels, but that quite some similarities in the distribution of English are found when zooming in on the specific parameters underlying language choice. As such, this paper advocates to perceive of the different manifestations of the spread of English as part of a continuum, rather than as isolated phenomena. Hence, we hope to provide a first step in bridging the theoretical and methodological gap between the ELF paradigm and anglicism research.

Keywords: ELF; English loanwords; contact linguistics; variational linguistics; cognitive sociolinguistics

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Published Online: 2013-08-16

Published in Print: 2013-08-15

Citation Information: Linguistics, Volume 51, Issue 5, Pages 1019–1064, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0036.

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Eline Zenner and Dorien Van De Mieroop
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Information Processing & Management, 2016, Volume 52, Number 6, Page 1018
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IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 2015, Volume 58, Number 1, Page 86
Eline Zenner, Dirk Speelman, and Dirk Geeraerts
Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics, 2015, Volume 4, Number 1, Page 6

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