VIDI project Going Dutch. The Construction of Dutch in Policy, Practice and Discourse, 1750-1850.
In public discourse, being Dutch and knowing Standard Dutch are often uncritically linked. The present project investigates why this link is so often taken for granted by diving into its historical roots. The link is a fairly recent product of history, established in the decades around 1800, in the early years of European nationalism. Nationalist language planning was not primarily targeted towards foreigners and foreign languages, but aimed at the integration of autochthonous minorities into the one Dutch nation. The project claims that the spread of Standard Dutch at the cost of other varieties has its origins in this period, and is the result of a nationalist ideology of homogeneisation. The leitmotiv of the project is the enduring tension between officially promoted Standard Dutch on the one hand, and ‘non-standard’ varieties on the other, in a fundamental phase of Dutch nation building.
Focusing on the period 1750-1850, the project will show the origins of linguistic nationalism. Three tightly interrelated topics are at the core of the project. First, the project will discuss why and how the opposition of Standard and non-standard Dutch was construed in public and academic discourse on linguistic diversity. Second, it will be investigated how this opposition steered educational policies aimed at the spread of Standard Dutch. Third, the effectiveness of educational policy will be examined through an analysis of its influence on actual language use.