Syntactic change in an immigrant language: from non-finite to finite subordinate clauses in Turkish


  • Pelin Onar Valk Tilburg University
  • Ad Backus Tilburg University



contact-induced change, subordinate clauses, reported speech, conversational data, experimental data, Turkish


While Turkish immigrants in Western Europe orient themselves to the norms of Standard Turkish, their Turkish is constantly being influenced by the European language they also speak. As a result of language contact, slowly but surely, new varieties of Turkish seem to be evolving, exhibiting loss of certain features and/or borrowing of words and structures taken from European languages. In this article, the focus is on Immigrant Turkish in the Netherlands, particularly on how it forms subordinate clauses. We compare data from the Netherlands and Turkey, with the data coming from two sources: spontaneous conversation and a sentence recall task. The main finding that both data sources converge on is that Dutch Turkish speakers clearly prefer to use finite subordinate clauses, especially in reported speech structures, and that this is a clear influence from Dutch. In Turkey, subordination is predominantly non-finite. The findings are interpreted in a usage-based perspective on contact-induced change.


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How to Cite

Valk, P. O., & Backus, A. (2013). Syntactic change in an immigrant language: from non-finite to finite subordinate clauses in Turkish. Eesti Ja Soome-Ugri Keeleteaduse Ajakiri. Journal of Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics, 4(2), 7–29.