I’m always impressed by just how much the Dutch love their language. Well, not ‘their’ language specifically, but language issues in general. Last week, the indefatigable Gaston Dorren published an article in Onze Taal about my research, called ‘We speak an own English since decennia: Onze unieke tweede taal’ (Dutch version; English version). He did a good, accurate and entertaining job; so if you liked that, you can read his blog, on other language issues, here. Or better yet, buy his book, Taaltoerisme.
As it turns out, the Onze Taal article kicked off a bit of a kerfuffle – as I said, the Dutch are inexplicably diverted by language debates – and so the national newspaper Algemeen Dagblad picked up the story as well. By ‘story’, of course, I mean the fact that in Cambridge someone from Australia who wears mustard-coloured jackets is eavesdropping on the Dutch, not that we have actually released any results yet.
Then, fright of all frights, I was asked to make an appearance on the RTL4 TV programme EditieNL, which you can watch here. It was a terrifically hard-hitting piece presented by a guy in a shiny snake-skin jacket where I was asked to comment on such linguistic marvels as the unwitting sexual innendo of Ruud Krol, the former Dutch football star, during a CNN interview. You can read the programme info from their website below.
Lesson learned? When you discuss the English of Dutch people WITH Dutch people, they immediately think of the term steenkolen-Engels. They are thinking of all those awkward mistranslations that you read about in I always get my sin (‘How do you do and how do you do your wife?’). The thing is, steenkolen-Engels is at the low end of the proficiency spectrum. We are looking at what I call Dutch English, which you find among much more proficient speakers. So steenkolen-Engels, Dunglish, Nederengels, no; Dutch English, or Nederlands-Engels, yes.