Blog Archives


Robin Straaijer directed our attention to the site which shows how you can cut a quill from a feather.

Dutch Grammar

Pepijn Hendriks drew our attention to the following website On this website there is currently a discussion going on about the grammatical status of  ‘het meisje met wie’ versus ‘het meisje waarmee’.

Monthly Lunch Meeting

For our 8th Monthly Lunch Meeting Jos Schaeken will present his paper: "Birch-bark Literacy from Medieval Russia: Contents and Contexts."

In this talk, he will introduce a unique collection of private correspondence from Medieval Russia. The documents — written on small pieces of birch-bark — give us a direct insight into every-day life in Novgorod between the middle of the eleventh and fifteenth century.

Everyone who is interested is welcome to attend on Friday 8 December in room 1168/005 from 12 to 1.

Question about Alston

María Rodríguez-Gil and Nuria Yáñez-Bouza asked the following question: 

We are currently investigating Alston’s bibliographic studies on the 18thc and we thought you may be able to help us out.

We are interested in:

(a) Alston, R.C. (1963). A check-list of English grammars written in English 1582-1800.

and (b) Alston, R.C. (1967-70 + 1974). English linguistics 1500-1800 (a collection of facsimile reprints)

We have consulted the librarians at Manchester and at Leeds. At Manchester we no longer hold the Check-list, it seems to have gone missing, and only 160 facsimiles are held at the moment. From Leeds, unfortunately, we have had no reply at all.

It occurred to us that, since you’ve previously worked with Alston’s works, you may be able to answer our questions.

With regard to (a), the check-list: have you had the chance to consult this book before? If so, is it any different from Alston’s bibliography (1965)?

With regard to (b), do you happen to have, or to know of, a complete list of Alston’s facsimile reprints? If so, could you let us know how to access it?

All suggestions are welcome.

Third Late Modern English Conference

We have just sent out the second circular for the Third Late Modern English Conference, which will be held in Leiden from 30 August – 1 September 2007.

If you wish to read the second circular, you can find the text on our webisite

For further information, please send an e-mail to

MIMAS Bibliographic Source

Nuria Yanez-Bouza has brought MIMAS to our attention, a national data centre which provides ‘access to key data and information resources to support teaching, learning and research across a wide range of disciplines’. Their bibliographic services are an excellent tool for our field, e.g. Archives Hub (descriptions of archives and manuscript collections held in UK universities and colleges), COPAC (a union catalogue of 24 of the largest university research libraries in the UK and Ireland), Zetoc (The British Library’s electronic table of contents), ISI Web of Knowledge (which includes citation indexes), or JSTOR (a unique digital archive collection of fully-text searchable academic journals).

The homepage is:

For info on the bibliographic services go to:

It is run by Manchester Computing at the University of Manchester and it is free for members of UK Further and Higher Education institutions, although subscription is required for some particular services. For non-UK institutions some services are freely provided (e.g. Archives Hub, COPAC) – it is certainly worth contacting them to find out about subscription!

Monthly Lunch Meetings

For the 7th Monthly Lunch Meeting, Klaske van Leyden will give a presentation on her paper "The linguistic situation in Orkney and Shetland."  Everyone who is interested is welcome to attend on the 17th of November from 12 to 1 in room 1168/005.


Project presentation

On the 13th of October we presented the project to fellow scholars in the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. For the results of the past year, see the attached file. Download file

Monthly Lunch Meetings

The Codifiers and the English Language have started their Monthly Lunch Meetings again. The next meeting will be on 20 October from 12 to 1 in building 1168 room 005. Annegien Theunissen will be our speaker and will present her paper "Criteria of word classification in Japanese grammars in the 18th and 19th century."

All those who are interested are welcome to attend!

Summary Dick Smakman presentation

“You can’t speak standard language and be sloppy at the same time” was Dick Smakman’s final conclusion when presenting his paper calledStandard Dutch in the Netherlands. What it is and what it sounds like”. Earlier this year, on 12 June, Smakman successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at the University of Utrecht, titled: Standard Dutch in the Netherlands. A Sociolinguistic and Phonetic Description and the Codifiers Project had invited him to speak about the topic of his thesis during their 5th Monthly Lunch Meeting on 15 September 2006.

The abstract for the presentation read as follows:
“Standard Dutch in the Netherlands has been subject to lively scholarly debate since its rise in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Lay beliefs have received relatively little attention in this ongoing discussion. I’ve looked into contemporary lay beliefs on the standard language and compared them with (contemporary and past) expert opinions hereon. My research consisted of two consecutive parts: a sociolinguistic and a phonetic part. The sociolinguistic part tried to answer the simple question: ‘What is Standard Dutch according to Dutch laymen and experts?’ To put the Dutch data in an international context, I’ve also collected language beliefs and descriptions in countries with new and old standard languages, for instance, New-Zealand and Japan. All in all, the results paint a modern-day picture of the standard language phenomenon, and this picture I will present in the paper. The sociolinguistic part of my research yielded seven prototypical speakers of Standard Dutch, and I’ve described selected phonemes in the speech of these speakers, through transcriptions and acoustic measurements. This phonetic description has created sociolinguistic insights into the standard language phenomenon, and I will briefly touch on these as well.”

During the presentation Smakman dealt with various questions, such as: What is Standard Dutch? What is a standard language? What does pronunciation tell us about standardness? The answers had to come from “experts” (linguists in this and the last century, teachers in previous centuries) as well as, interestingly, laymen, to which end he had conducted an elaborate questionnaire. Smakman approached these questions from various perspectives:

1) Intrinsic: language characteristics.
Two lay characteristics that were distinguished were “general” (of all people) and “cultured” (typical to the elite). Standard languages are both inclusive and exclusive (excluding people). Only old standard languages – languages which have a long established standard such as English or Dutch – have an exclusive function, though inclusivism is the most universal of the two.

2) Speaker: speaker characteristics.
The most predominant users of the standard language in the Netherlands are primarily considered to be newsreaders. Geographically speaking, usually only the western part of the country is mentioned. Almost everybody claims to be able to speak standard Dutch though whether they actually do so is another matter.

3) International: comparison to five other countries.
It appeared that the use of a standard as a lingua franca was the only “universal” characteristic. Non-regionality scored comparatively high in the Netherlands. However, non-regionality was found NOT to be a universal feature, not even for old standard languages.

4) Perceptual: listener agreement.
It was found that young western women scored higher for Standard Dutch; moreover, regional origin and level of education of listeners did not affect evaluations significantly.

5) Phonetic: pronunciation of Standard Dutch.
The survey showed that generally when disagreement for one phoneme disappears, a new realisation of another one will surface. For instance, (r) realisations have grown more, while (g) realisations have been halved.

Lyda Fens-de Zeeuw