Universiteit Leiden

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Gijsbert Rutten new Professor of Historical Sociolinguistics of Dutch

As of 1 July, Gijsbert Rutten is Professor by special appointment of Historical Sociolinguistics of Dutch at Leiden University. Rutten, who also works as Director of Education at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), will, among other things, research the historical relationship between French and Dutch.

The language and the user

‘We already know a lot about the history of the Dutch language’, says Rutten, ‘but not yet from a sociolinguistic perspective. Sociolinguistics means looking not only at the language but also at its user: when does a person choose to use a particular form of language? And how does the demographic to which a person belongs, influence language use? A historical sociolinguist looks at historical sources such as diaries and letters in order to tell something about language development.'

At Leiden University since 2009

In 2009, Rutten started as a postdoc at Leiden University and later became a university lecturer and senior university lecturer in the field of historical linguistics of Dutch. In addition, he is currently Director of Education at the LUCL. Rutten's position as senior university lecturer, and now also as professor by special appointment (0.2fte) at Leiden University, is the only full-time position researching the history of the Dutch language in the Netherlands. The endowed chair is made possible by the Merweborgh Foundation. 

Gijsbert Rutten

Pardon my French?

Rutten is particularly looking forward to continuing his research project Pardon my French? which started in 2018 and investigates language contact between French and Dutch. Rutten: ‘Pardon my French? is a very interesting project to do, because language contact - or multilingualism - in the history of the Dutch language is a theme that is actually always ignored.

It is often assumed that in the period from the 16th to the 18th century there existed a period of ‘Francisation’ of Dutch, but this has never really been properly researched from a linguistic perspective. With my research team, we investigate whether this assumption is correct, or whether it is heavily exaggerated in literature. I look forward to continuing this research as a professor, there is still a lot to discover.'

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