Golden showers

Mini-column ‘Alison in Wonderland’, published in the Observant, Maastricht

I’m looking for the Yeti. Well, not literally. I’m looking, in my PhD, for a ‘Dutch English’, a legitimate variety of English like, say, Australian or Indian English. Like the Yeti, it’s something we’ve all heard of, but no-one’s ever seen. While it’s easy to make a theoretical case for Dutch English, actually pinpointing this mythical dialect is much harder. Consider the English sentence: The movie, which was highly praised by critics, was rubbish. From a Dutch speaker, you might hear: The by critics highly praised movie was rubbish. Cute, sure. But if we allow that, must we consider all blunders and mistranslations as ‘legitimate’ Dutch English? I’m thinking here of the unfortunate phrasing of those like former VVD leader Frits Bolkestein, who used to refer to economic prospects as ‘golden showers’, ignorant (or not?) of the sexual connotation …

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