“It hurts my ears”: Language-ideological perceptions of English in the Netherlands

Presentation delivered at the Dutch Annual Linguistics Day (Grote Taaldag), Utrecht University, 2 February 2019

This study, at the interface of language ideologies, corpus linguistics and discourse analysis, explores perceptions of English in the Netherlands through recurrent discourse patterns in a corpus of language-attitudinal commentary by 724 Dutch informants. The informants position English as a purely utilitarian tool for international communication. Yet, a key ideological narrative revolves around the perceived “unnecessary” use and “overuse” of English within Dutch society to appear cosmopolitan, clever or “cool”. This suggests many people are (or are believed to be) mobilising the language for local interpersonal relations and identity construction. These functions go beyond mere instrumentalism, suggesting English may be being used as not just a “foreign”/“international” language but rather an additional local language for creative self-expression and identity performance.

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