Steenkolen Engels

For those interested in the topic of ‘Dutch English’, it’s worth reading the work of Marc van Oostendorp, a linguist at Leiden University, who published the book Steenkolen Engels: Een pleidooi voor normvervaging in 2002. It’s a shame that since then, so few researchers and opinion-makers have done further work on this idea that striving to meet a native-speaker norm is not only unrealistic but in many ways also undesirable (in the Netherlands and on continental Europe I mean … for parts of Asia and Africa there’s no shortage of work in this field). Another interesting read is van Oostendorp’s article ‘Ons steenkolen-Engels: De pragmatische oplossing van een taalprobleem’, which was published in Onze Taal more than 10 years ago. An excerpt:

“Ik denk dat het tijd wordt om de term [steenkolen-Engels] in plaats daarvan als een geuzennaam te gebruiken, als de naam van een soort Engels dat de toekomst heeft. Dat is de taal van slimme en mondige wereldburgers die zich weinig gelegen laten liggen aan de idiomatische manier waarop moedertaalsprekers het Engels hanteren. Voor die mensen kunnen hun Engelstalige teksten net zo goed gecontroleerd worden door een intelligente taalgevoelige Fin of Japanner als door een moedertaalspreker.”

Extreme gushy thanks

At this point I’d like to send a huge thank you to all the people who’ve been kind enough to contribute texts for the corpus. And also, a ridiculously extreme expression of thanks to the many people who not only contributed, but then also went above and beyond in getting other people to participate! Some of you re-tweeted my Twitter-oproepjes to hundreds of people, others forwarded the project information to bunches of friends and contacts, some people linked to it from their own blogs, and many more were just generally interested and asked lots of nice questions or suggested this or that article to read or person to contact. Not one of you needed to do this so the fact that so many people have been so helpful to a stranger is just heartwarming and hugely encouraging.

Ok, enough gushing … this is serious business. Happy to report that I’m down to the last 20 or so texts that we need. The categories still proving stubborn are press news and editorials, so journalists: here I come.

What’s the story?

As you’ve most definitely (ha, ha) already read in the Research section, I’m building a corpus of ‘Dutch English’ for my PhD. This is basically a big collection of digital texts. The 300 or so texts to be included in the corpus fall into a range of genres. We have already collected much of the data – but we’re not quite there yet. So what am I still looking for? Personal emails, e.g. to friends or family (not to worry – everything will of course be anonymised. I can give you details on how.). Magazine articles and blog posts. Press news reports and editorials in particular! And some fiction as well (e.g. short stories, or even creatively written blog posts. If you’re Dutch and write these sorts of texts in English (or know someone who does), send me an email at ae302 [@] cam.ac.uk! I will be falling over myself in appreciation. All you’ll need to do is send me your text(s), and fill out a 5-minute questionnaire.