WP66 “This isn’t possible anymore”: Indexical shifts in a white urban dialect

Collection: Key word


This paper argues that in interactions among teenagers at a secondary school in Antwerp one can find indications of a shift taking place in the connotation potential and usability of a traditionally ?white? urban dialect. Although multi-ethnic teenagers clearly distinguished between jocular uses of Antwerp dialect and their own, regular, voice, and although they explicitly associated the dialect with hostile ethnic others, in their interactional practices it was often hard to find evidence of an insider-outsider perspective. Instead, exaggerated uses of Antwerp dialect often highlighted (potential) incidents between pupils and teachers, while much more modest uses of it pervaded key informants? personal, non-jocular and non-standard vernacular. So, even if ethnicity was much more speakable for interpreting local linguistic differences, teenagers? actual use of Antwerp dialect features seemed to suggest they were actively engaging with processes of class stratification.