Units of Language – Units of Writing
  • ISSN 1387-6732
  • E-ISSN: 1570-6001
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The present study investigates linguistic relativity. The units of writing investigated are e and en, which are used to represent units of language in Dutch, Frisian, and Afrikaans. Dutch has homographic forms in the plural suffix -en and the linking element of noun-noun compounds en. Frisian does not have homography of this kind, while Afrikaans has a different homography. This raises the question whether second language learners of Dutch consistently interpret the linking en in Dutch noun-noun compounds as plural in the way that native speakers do. Plurality ratings for Dutch modifiers obtained from native Dutch speakers are compared with ratings from Frisian-Dutch bilinguals and Afrikaaners learning Dutch as L2. Significant differences relating to orthography are observed. We therefore argue that differing orthographic conventions in one’s native language (L1) can lead to different interpretations for the same everyday words written in Dutch (L2). Orthography thus provides an example of linguistic relativity. Keywords: linguistic relativity; second language learning; morphology; compounding; linking element; plurality; homography; Dutch; Frisian; Afrikaans


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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