Dutch quotative <i>van</i>

Past and present

image of Dutch quotative <i>van</i>

The quotative use of the Dutch preposition <i>van</i> &#8216;of&#8217; can be considered as the Dutch counterpart of English <i>like</i>, German <i>so</i> and similar items in other languages, the use of which has increased significantly in many languages of the world in the last four decades. Stylistically, quotative <i>van</i> occurs most frequently in informal spoken language, less in more formal spoken language and infrequently in written language (the written language in the new media included). In this sense, Dutch quotative <i>van</i> fits in to a worldwide trend. Yet, quotative <i>van</i> shows some characteristics that seem to differentiate it from its counterparts in other languages. Firstly, <i>van</i> not only combines with direct speech, but also occurs regularly in combination with indirect speech. Secondly, <i>van</i> is not restricted to youth language; it is widely used in all age groups and regions (also in Belgian Dutch). Thirdly, based on written informal documents and dairies, we show that the quotative use of <i>van</i> has old roots in the history of Dutch, going back to at least the 17th century.

  • Affiliations: 1: Radboud University Nijmegen
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