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With the “plof” into the Grunneger laboratory

On Saturday the 17th of March, the ‘Huis van de Groninger Cultuur’ the ‘RHC Groninger Archieven’ and the ‘Bureau Groninger Taal en Cultuur’ (RUG) (amongst others), organised ‘de Dag van de Grunneger Toal’ (the day of the Groninger language). The special celebration of this minority language was hosted inside the building(s) of the Groninger archives. When entering the building you were met with an introduction committee with stickers, leaflets and bags of the day on the right, and a stage on the left. During the day a variety of Groninger artists would make their way to that stage to perform their Groninger music, varying from lighthearted melodic songs to more energetic and powerful ones. In addition to that, there were presentations and workshops on a wide range of topics such as the Groninger language, literature and the future of Gronings, given by Goffe Jensma, Jan Glas, Louis Stiller and more. It was also possible to stroll around the fair of books, CDs and films. As second (and third) year bachelor students of Minorities & Multilingualism at the RUG, we were present at the event in order to go ‘into the local laboratory’ as the title of our courses suggests. For the second year students the focus was put on cultural heritage and for the third years, their tasks were more specifically related to language.

During the day we, the M&M students, were supposed to conduct 10-15 interviews with ‘dailnemers’ (participants) of the day in groups of 2 or 3. These interviews will be used for a master thesis on the particular minority language. The interview questions were related to the (self-rapport and testing of) language proficiency, language attitude and language use. For the language tests, the ‘dailnemers’ would, for instance, name a series of pictures in Gronings. The participants were filmed in order for the language tests to be analysed afterwards. They would also fill in a consent form, in which they could choose for their interview to be shared on social media or if it could be used for further research on the Groninger language. In this way, the Groninger language can be promoted by depicting the Groninger people and seeing them actually using the language on a ‘cooler’ platform such as youtube (in comparison to e.g. the marketplace) and in turn reinforce a positive attitude towards the language.

At first, it felt challenging to address people, as they were either talking, eating or listening to the music, but after a while, we seemed to get the hang of it. The first person we interviewed was a man at a video stand of old Eurosonic tapes, which is a Groninger festival which takes place every year in January (https://esns.nl/nl/). Here, we encountered an issue, as some questions were for Groningers and others for non-Groningers. He himself actually came from Drenthe, but he had learned a bit of Gronings over the years. Most of the people we interviewed were rather old, but there were some young people as well. They had either learned the language from their parents or grandparents. A striking result from our interviews was that numbers were sometimes pronounced completely different. Still, people were convincingly counting from 1 to 10, probably because of the dialectal variation that exists. You could also really notice a sense of pride of Gronings, as no one said they felt ashamed of the language. It was interesting to be able to connect the information that is given to us in the class lectures to the event, as we found out that the Grunneger ‘’Eierbal’’ is actually cultural heritage.

Celebrating events such as ‘’De Dag van de Grunneger Toal’’ is important for the awareness regarding this minority language and culture and its current position in society. It is important to raise awareness of local linguistic and cultural diversity, even in such a small country as the Netherlands. The future of the Grunneger language is in the hand of future generations. It is nice for Groningers to be able to celebrate their culture and language at such an event. There is a need for more events like ‘’De Dag van de Grunneger Toal’’ throughout the Netherlands to ensure every dialect and culture can be celebrated.



Authors: JDM, DvdK, JG, DMG

In your opinion what can the Grunneger minority learn from the Frisian minority, on the basis of linguistic awareness and cultural identity?

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