Language Motivations and Choices of Dutch L1 Speakers Attending English-language Churches in the Netherlands

S.E. Alberts, Gijsbert Rutten

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The Netherlands is home to an increasing number of English-language churches. These churches are often established with an international audience in mind: however, interestingly, they also attract a large number of Dutch as a first language (L1) speakers. This article investigates the language attitudes and language choices of Dutch L1 speakers attending these churches. It examines the religious considerations behind their language choices, and the influence a second language (L2) might have on their faith experience. The study shows that, while English is indeed permeating the religious domain of the Netherlands, Dutch is still used in many contexts. For example, a majority of the participants, while favouring English as the main language of the church service, preferred to pray in Dutch. We also found that ideologies surrounding the English language guided many of the participants’ language choices. Lastly, the English language brought participants a sense of distance that aided discussions about their faith and prevented negative feelings associated with the Dutch language from interfering. This study adds to the discussion of the global spread of English and sheds new light on linguistic attitudes and choices in religious contexts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2023

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