Dutch, the Dutch and Dutch English in the media

Time is short so no extended commentary here, but I just wanted to post a few bits and bobs from the news lately that make interesting references to the Netherlands and it’s language(s).

The rise of the global capital by Simon Kuper, FT magazine

The comment ‘Many ambitious Dutch people no longer want to join the Dutch elite. They want to join the global elite’ is not super surprising. What was more interesting was this paragraph; specifically, the end of it:

“London is full of Dutch bankers earning more than their friends in Amsterdam ever will. Dutch academics and even journalists increasingly seek careers abroad. Ambitious Dutch politicians are getting disillusioned with the shrinking national scene too: before the European elections, party campaign posters on Amsterdam’s windows bemoaned the power of Brussels. The national-global divide is now so stark that many children of the Amsterdam elite make the leap in their teens: they study either in Britain, or in English at a Dutch university. You can’t crack the global elite speaking Dutch English.”

This may be the first reference I’ve ever seen in the popular media to ‘Dutch English’ (other than in my own stuff, which I guess doesn’t really count). Naturally, I dispute the claim, because what Kuper is presumably referring to is Dunglish, not Dutch English (I have a forthcoming article in Onze Taal that explores the difference between the two).

Spreek je Dutch? R.L.G., The Economist

Just a bit of fun.

British journalists: follow these ten rules when interviewing Louis van Gaal, Peter Zantingh, NRC

This is kind of fabulous. Louis van Gaal is set to become the manager of Manchester United and Zantingh offers 10 ground rules for dealing with him in post-match interviews, lest he deal with you.

A lot of the observations here tie in with the notion of Dutch people (some of them, anyway) being confident and comfortable enough with their English to demand that native speakers adjust to them, and not the other way round. Sociolinguists would suggest this indicates that many Dutch are willing to act as language ‘builders’ in their use of English, rather than just passive recipients. Other people might see it as just arrogance …

The relevant rule here is 5, but do read the article for some peripherally related gems:

Rule 5. It’s his language now, not yours. Mr. Van Gaal will come up with new additions to the Oxford Dictionary. In Germany, he inadvertently (or was it?) introduced the phrase Der Tod oder die Gladiolen, a Dutch saying meaning literally “death or the gladioli”: all or nothing. This is because if Mr. Van Gaal speaks your language, it is no longer your language, it’s his. It is not Mr. Van Gaal who has trouble speaking English, it is you, for not going along with his obviously much better interpretation of it.”

Thanks to Rutger-Jan Lange for the heads up (heads ups?) on these articles.


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