Lingua franca onset in a superdiverse neighborhood: oecumenical Dutch in Antwerp

Jan Blommaert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Longitudinal ethnographic research in a superdiverse neighborhood in inner-city Antwerp (Belgium) shows that, in spite of continuously and rapidly changing demographic patterns, a relatively stable lingua franca has emerged, which I call “oecumenical Dutch”. Rather than one identifiable variety, oecumenical Dutch is best seen as a continuum of “accented” varieties of vernacular Dutch, ranging from minimal operational registers such as those of simple shopping routines to fully developed multigeneric and multimodal varieties. This lingua franca operates as an “infrastructure” in the neighborhood, and ensures relatively smooth modes of interaction at the level of conviviality. Conviviality, however, is not (as often suggested) a superficial level of social engagement; in the superdiverse neighborhood, conviviality provides elementary and critical levels of social cohesion and integration. The resources required for oecumenical Dutch are low-threshold, “demotic” ones, and newcomers quickly acquire sufficient levels of proficiency. The tremendous social importance of this lingua franca should not obscure the fact that oecumenical Dutch enables specific trajectories of integration – those of convivial community membership – but does not qualify as a resource for integration towards full citizenship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreolization and Pidginization in Contexts of Postcolonial Diversity
Subtitle of host publicationLanguage, Culture, Identity
EditorsJacqueline Knörr, Wilson Trajano Filho
Place of PublicationLeiden
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9789004363427
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2018

Publication series

NameBrill's Studies in Language, Cognition and Culture
ISSN (Print)1879-5412


  • Sociolinguistics
  • Superdiversity
  • creolization
  • lingua franca
  • language variation
  • Dutch Language
  • Antwerp
  • linguistic anthropology
  • Integration
  • conviviality


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