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The sociolinguistics of place and belonging : perspectives from the margins

Peripheral Performances

The Languagecultural Practices of Dutch-Limburgian World Star André Rieu

This contribution focusses on the languagecultural politics played out in performances of André Rieu, the World’s King of the Waltz. At stake are stereotypical oppositions made within the Netherlands between ‘the nation’s center’ (‘Holland’) and the ‘peripheral’ province of Limburg. During his concerts in the Limburgian capital Maastricht, Rieu’s hometown, Rieu negates the Hollanders-centered, taken-for-granted, perspective that foregrounds Standard Dutch and its speakers as the normative neutral. Presenting himself as a global-cum-local performer alternating local language with English, Rieu marginalizes Standard Dutch as irrelevant, in the Dutch language-scape usually the position of dialects. Rieu’s languagecultural political messages are persuasive because of his strategic, jocular use of various linguistic and cultural resources, all to highlight his belonging to Maastricht.