December 2, 2015

Dutch-Moroccan ethnolect has its own flavour

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 11:58 am


Does the Dutch-Moroccan ethnic group speak ‘street language’ (urban slang) or just a modified version of standard Dutch? According to postdoctoral researcher Khalid Mourigh of Leiden University, it’s an ethnolect, or what he likes to call ‘Moroccan Flavoured Dutch’ (MFD), a term coined by two linguists Jacomine Nortier and Margreet Dorleijn back in 2006. Interestingly, other ethnic groups and the native Dutch use words and pronunciations from this ethnolect.

Wikipedia tells us that Dutch-Moroccans make up some 2% of the country’s population, and the city with the most Dutch-Moroccans is Gouda, with Amsterdam in second place.

Mourigh explains that Dutch-Moroccans often speak Berber and Arabic at home with their parents, but since Berber isn’t taught formally and Arabic is more for the mosque, Dutch is what young people speak with each other, albeit with an accent, sometimes a heavy one. Urban slang is more something for the ‘native’ Dutch and Surinamese youth. However, Dutch-Moroccans of the second and third generation choose to have an accent when they speak to distinguish themselves, according to Nortier and Dorleijn. On the other hand, if they want to put their best foot forward in a job interview, standard Dutch is usually preferred.

(Link:, Photo of Djellabas by Roel Wijnants, some rights reserved)

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