Situations of communication

The section Dutch times three has given you an overview of the different kinds of Dutch (also called varieties ) that are spoken in the Netherlands, Belgium (Flanders) and Suriname. With the help of the descriptions of these three varieties you now know about their use and features. Now we are going to have a look at the different situations of communication e.g. at home, in school or at the shop. In the Netherlands and Belgium, different varieties of Dutch, such as standard Dutch, colloquial Dutch, Tussentaal (in-between-language), Poldernederlands (Polder-Dutch), Straattaal (Street-Dutch) or dialects are used in different situations. The Surinamese switch from Dutch to other languages such as Sranan Tongo in different situations of communication.

Anna (video) is a Surinamese salesgirl who has her stall at the market in Paramaribo. She talks Dutch or Sranan Tongo (she calls it 'Surinamese') to her customers. She will tell us herself what determines her choice of language.



Situations of communication

By clicking on each of the following menu items you will be able to learn about how the Dutch language is used in the Netherlands, Belgium (Flanders) and Suriname in different situations of communication. Existing empirical research, as well as surveys and interviews, will help us to discover interesting variations in language use in different situations. In Flanders, for instance, regional varieties of Dutch are used more frequently than in the Netherlands. On each page you will get an overview of the most important vocabulary of the situation of communication discussed. It is important to know about the specific cultural and social background for each country (each of them having its own system of education, for example). In these backgrounds certain vocabulary is used to talk about school or studying at a university. By clicking through the different menu items below you will be able to practice your knowledge of the different variations of Dutch.

Multilingualism in Suriname

  • As opposed to the Netherlands and Belgium, Suriname is a multilingual society. A survey of the Taalunie, questioning approximately 130 Surinamese in the capital Paramaribo, shows that these people use an average of 3,1 languages in their everyday lives (source: Taalpeil 2011). There is a lot of code-switching between Dutch, Sranan Tongo and other mother tongues as Sarnami and Javanese Surinamese (see Languages in Suriname). This implies that different languages are used alternately with others, sometimes even in a single conversation. If more than one language is used in a single sentence we call it code-mixing. This phneomenon can easily be found in language use of Surinamese adolescents.
  • Since the 60s Dutch is increasingly being spoken in Surinamese homes, especially in Paramaribo. Additionally, there is a growing use of Dutch in informal contexts.