Dictionaries and their influence on language purification in minority languages. The case of Frisian

By November 17, 2016,
AuthorFrits van der Kuip
TitleDictionaries and their influence on language purification in minority languages. The case of Frisian
AbstractIn literature, scepticism on the effect of language propaganda is dominant. Researchers observe that it is almost impossible to stop lexical interferences from becoming current in standard languages such as Dutch (or Southern Dutch in Belgium) through language purification literature or through languagerelated articles and transmissions in the media or (last but not least) through concise dictionaries.
The question we have to ask ourselves is, whether the dictionaries’ influence in a minority language such as Frisian is limited as well. Most speakers of Frisian are, as far as writing is concerned, illiterate in their own language. They are not accustomed to written Frisian word forms and unsure when it comes to how their language should be written correctly. A Frisian speaker will be more inclined to consult a dictionary when writing something in his own language, than a speaker of a majority language or a national language would do. On the basis of that assumption, you would expect that including purisms and avoiding or marking interferences in dictionaries, would significantly affect the written language at least.
In this survey, I looked at four loan-words, including the loan-translations and purisms (if any) that go with them. I compared the occurrences (and non-occurrences) of these words as dictionary entries to their respective frequencies of occurrences in two major databases.
On the one hand, we see that, throughout the years, the purisms included in the dictionaries perform considerably better than the equivalent loan-words and loan-translations. The purisms not in the dictionaries perform considerably worse. On the other hand, we notice a trend among writers of Frisian to use interference words in the last few decennia. So, at first glance, dictionaries seem to have influenced language purification. However, one cannot tell for how long that will be the case. It will depend on speakers’ attitudes towards their language. After all, it is very difficult to control a language as has been proven in the case of Dutch, and the same might hold for Frisian.
SessionLexicography of Lesser Used or Non-State Languages
author = {Frits van der Kuip},
title = {Dictionaries and their influence on language purification in minority languages. The case of Frisian},
pages = {1497-1504},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 14th EURALEX International Congress},
year = {2010},
month = {jul},
date = {6-10},
address = {Leeuwarden/Ljouwert, The Netherlands},
editor = {Anne Dykstra and Tanneke Schoonheim},
publisher = {Fryske Akademy},
isbn = {978-90-6273-850-3},