French-Dutch bilinguals do not maintain obligatory semantic distinctions: Evidence from placement verbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


It is often said that bilinguals are not the sum of two monolinguals but that bilingual systems represent a third pattern. This study explores the exact nature of this pattern. We ask whether there is evidence of a merged system when one language makes an obligatory distinction that the other one does not, namely in the case of placement verbs in French and Dutch, and whether such a merged system is realised as a more general or a more specific system. The results show that in elicited descriptions Belgian French-Dutch bilinguals drop one of the categories in one of the languages, resulting in a more general semantic system in comparison with the non-contact variety. They do not uphold the obligatory distinction in the verb nor elsewhere despite its communicative relevance. This raises important questions regarding how widespread these differences are and what drives these patterns.


External organisations
  • Radboud University Nijmegen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • bilingualism, convergence, Dutch, French, placement, caused motion
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-37
JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Humanities Lab (015101200), Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

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