Volume 30, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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A bias towards formal texts obscures our view of language change and gives a misleading impression of actual developments if ‘changes from below’ are in conflict with ‘changes from above,’ resulting from norms that are visible in particular in formal language. A corpus of 17th-century Amsterdam texts with varying levels of formality is assembled to study the loss of genitive and dative case-marking in Dutch. These results are compared with the use of present participle constructions, which serve as an extra variable to gauge how formal a text is. We argue that nominal case-marking no longer existed in informal language in 17th-century Amsterdam and that the genitive became a feature of formal norms and was hence subject to pressures from above.


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