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I’m no longer updating this old site as of 2017, but I’ll keep it up as an archive.



Book: English in the Netherlands: Functions, forms and attitudes

And it’s out. Don’t all rush for the bookshops at once now.

(As in … because the proofs are here]

“A highly competent and valuable investigation into whether Dutch English exists as a cohesive variety.”
Laura Wright, University of Cambridge
“This is the first comprehensive application of the Dynamic Model to an Expanding Circle country. It shows that globalization has replaced colonization as the trigger of a ‘foundation phase’, but that many sociolinguistic and linguistic effects are similar. This volume is insightful and innovative; it is valuable both for its rich and eclectic disclosure and compilation of new data of various kinds and for its theoretical ambition and significance. It represents a substantial scholarly contribution to the field.”
Edgar Schneider, University of Regensburg
This volume provides the first comprehensive investigation of the Netherlands in the World Englishes paradigm. It explores the history of English contact, the present spread of English and attitudes towards English in the Netherlands. It describes the development and analysis of the Corpus of Dutch English, the first Expanding Circle corpus based on the design of the International Corpus of English. In addition, it investigates the applicability of Schneider’s (2003, 2007) Dynamic Model, concluding that this and other such models need to move away from a colonisation-driven approach and towards a globalisation-driven one to explain the continued spread and evolution of English today. The volume will be highly relevant to researchers interested in the status and use of English in the Netherlands. More broadly, it provides a timely contribution to the debate on the relevance of the World Englishes framework for non-native, non-postcolonial settings such as Continental Europe.

eng in nl

Heads up!

I was lining my pencils up in preparation for sharpening when the phone rang.

It was Pauw, from the talk show. That morning the NRC had run a small piece on my research. Would I be willing to come on the show and discuss it?

‘I could, I suppose’, I said. I’ve always been underwhelmed by Pauw’s hair, and besides, the last time I went on TV to talk about my research the segment was presented by a man in a snakeskin suit and I was made to comment on unwitting sexual innuendo in the use of English by ageing Dutch footballers.

In fact it wasn’t Pauw himself on the phone, but one of his minions. The content for that night wasn’t yet set in stone, but I was on the shortlist and they’d call back soon to confirm.

I hung up and passed the afternoon pacing up and down, praying I might be ditched for a segment on pandas, or maybe a piece on the long-lost Rembrandt that had materialised that morning in an auction in New Jersey. By mid-afternoon I’d forced Rutger-Jan to cancel all his appointments in order to coach me. ‘Just don’t get side-tracked when they bring up Louis van Gaal’, he counselled.

At last the phone rang.

‘I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news’, said the voice. ‘We’re replacing you with a head.’

‘Just a head?’, I said. ‘But I’ve got a whole body.’

Earlier that day a severed head had turned up on the street in Amsterdam, its owner the victim of an ongoing turf war between rival gangs. The head, which apparently belonged to a body found in a burning car on the other side of the city, had been placed in a bucket and positioned to peer into Fayrouz, a shisha lounge on the Amstelveenseweg. It was this grizzly touch that seemed to get the story over the line for the producers at Pauw.

‘Compared to a segment on … language … it’s just a lot, you know … sexier.’


Go on: give Dutch English a big hug

Here is an article about my research in yesterday’s NRC:

Nederlands Engels wordt een taal apart

Engelse taal Nederlanders schamen zich vaak voor het Engels van hun landgenoten, terwijl Engelssprekenden er juist bewondering voor hebben.

Maarten Huygen

9 maart 2016

Nederlanders maken elkaar nogal eens belachelijk om hun Engels. Dat ze het niet goed spreken, dat ze een accent hebben, dat ze uitdrukkingen al te rechtstreeks vertalen. Dat ze dénken dat ze goed Engels spreken.

Alison Edwards, afkomstig uit Australië, denkt daar anders over. Zij vindt dat Nederlanders juist heel goed Engels spreken. Volgens haar ontstaat hier een nieuw soort Engels – afwijkend van het Brits of Amerikaans, maar toch duidelijk. Zij promoveerde in 2014 op dat ‘Nederlandse Engels’ aan de universiteit van Cambridge.

Click here for the full article.


English for the 21st century

Just back from visiting the wonderful Mikko Laitinen and colleagues at Linnaeus University, Sweden, where I gave this talk:

English for the 21st century
Putting Continental Europe on the map of World Englishes

Since the latter decades of the 20th century, the field of World Englishes (WEs) has succeeded in drawing attention to the emergence of new varieties of English around the world. The focus is typically on Asian and African Englishes that have arisen in postcolonial societies such as India, Singapore and Kenya. Why has Continental Europe largely been ignored? In view of the vastly increased roles and uses of English in regions such as Scandinavia, I discuss the notion of European Englishes in the WEs paradigm. Drawing on research on the case of the Netherlands, I show how Continental Europeans, too, can be agentive shapers of English who reconstruct the language for their own ends. In addition, I shed light on how new methodological tools can facilitate investigation of such Englishes and thus complement our existing picture of English around the world.

Expanding Circle Englishes + Istanbul is lovely, I’m sure

Just back from the annual conference of the International Association of World Englishes (IAWE) in Istanbul. I would like to say I saw something of Istanbul. I did not. But I saw a lot of the truly lovely Boğaziçi University campus. My paper was part of a colloquium dedicated to English in the Expanding Circle organised by Prof. Suzanne Hilgendorf, together with Sarah Buschfeld, Sofia Ruediger and Bouchra Kachoub.

Agency and resistance in the Expanding Circle

English in the Netherlands

This contribution addresses the implications of recent research on English in the Netherlands. It shows that the existing models and assumptions in World Englishes studies do not do justice to the agency of English users in the Expanding Circle.

First, I show that a categorical approach seeking to distinguish neatly between English as a second-language (ESL) or learner (EFL) variety is insufficient. Findings indicate that functionally, English serves as a second language in Dutch society, yet ‘Dutch English’ is not seen as a target model. This makes it difficult to unequivocally label English in the Netherlands as either EFL or ESL.

Next, I consider a developmental, cyclical model: Schneider’s (2003, 2007) Dynamic Model of the Evolution of Postcolonial Englishes. Although the historical foundations of English in the Netherlands were different, parallels with the developmental trajectory of postcolonial Englishes can be found in sociolinguistic aspects, such as the emergence of an English-knowing identity.

These identity restructurings and other sociolinguistic developments therefore seem to be a common factor in the dynamics across the Outer Circle and certain Expanding Circle settings. And these developments can be trigged by postcolonial processes, but also by other processes, specifically the forces of globalisation.

In the Netherlands, this is resulting in a situation where speakers at times opt consciously for ‘Dutch’ pronunciation of English so as not to sound ‘affected’, insist on nonstandard usages that they feel better suit the local setting, and actively resist interventions by English-language gatekeepers.

This signals an emerging pattern of linguistic disruption; a way of reasserting the user’s own linguistic power and identity and subverting the dominance of English. It seems that in the Expanding Circle, too, people are willing to agentively adapt English to suit their own voices and context.

Attitudes to English in Germany

Germans! Do you love English, hate English, use it all the time, next to never use it – no matter, bitte hilf mit und füll diesen Fragebogen aus!

Together with Robert Fuchs from the University of Münster and his student Elisa Rossmann, I’m conducting a survey on attitudes towards English in Germany.

This is an extension of the attitudinal study I conducted in the Netherlands as part of my PhD. Very imaginatively entitled ‘English in the Netherlands: Uses and attitudes’, it was a large-scale survey with almost 2000 respondents (thank you, all of you!), with questions falling into five themes: learning English, using English, perceived competence, models and varieties of English, and the respective status of English and Dutch.

The German version went live a few weeks ago and we already have over 500 responses. Happy days! But of course, we’d like a lot more. So please, alsjeblieft, bitte, go ahead and forward this link to any Germans you know!

Ertrinken wir in Anglizismen? Oder kann kaum einer in Deutschland richtig Englisch und wir verpassen den Anschluss an die “Weltsprache”? Wir wollen wissen, wann du die englische Sprache wozu benutzt (oder auch nicht) und was du darüber denkst. Bitte hilf mit und teile diese Nachricht!


New article: ‘Outer and expanding circle Englishes: The competing roles of norm orientation and proficiency levels’

A solid year and a bit after it was accepted, my article with Samantha Laporte from the Université catholique de Louvain is now out in the latest issue of English World-Wide. For a copy of the proofs, click here. Here’s the abstract:

The classification of English as a native (ENL), second (ESL) and foreign (EFL) language is traditionally mapped onto Kachru’s (1985) Inner, Outer and Expanding circles, respectively. This paper addresses the divide upheld between these different varietal types. We explore the preposition into using comparable corpora for all three varietal types: the International Corpus of English (ICE) for Inner and Outer Circle varieties, and a comparable Corpus of Dutch English to represent the Expanding Circle. Our results show that the least institutionalised varieties (Hong Kong and Dutch English) are the most dissimilar to the ENL varieties, and the most institutionalised variety (Singapore English) is the most similar. We also compare our results for the Corpus of Dutch English to the Dutch component of the International Corpus of Learner English. While the latter patterns with other learner varieties, the Dutch English corpus patterns with ESL varieties, suggesting that “Expanding Circle” and “EFL” are not synonymous.

Keywords: Expanding Circle, Outer Circle, ESL, ENL, EFL, Netherlands, norm orientation, prepositions