What makes the Dutch… Dutch? Is there an identity? And what’s with all this English making it’s way into the Dutch daily language? (yeah, sorry Holland, we don’t help!)
A major study by The Social and Cultural Planning Office has concluded that the purity and prevalence of the Dutch language is waning, despite it being rated as the most important factor to Dutch culture (yes even more than Sinterklaas..)
The power of structural quirks
We all know language is important DutchReview but can you give me an example?!
Many languages have grammatical gender. For example, “Bridge” in German is feminine but it is masculine in Spanish. Studies show that German speakers are more likely to describe a bridge as “beautiful” and “elegant” and stereotypically feminine words whereas Spanish speakers are more likely to describe a bridge as “strong” or “robust” and stereotypically masculine words. Language has a profound shape on how we construct reality, so it is unsurprising the Dutch are getting annoyed by the prevalence of English.
A coffee with a side of English?
There are concerns that the hospitality industry in the Netherlands is compromising the Dutch language. It is unsurprising given hospitality is an easy transition job for tourists and students who have just made the move to the Netherlands.
Paul te Grotenhuis, spokesperson for trade organization INretail, thinks this is an inevitable outcome. He comments “English is the first alternative if it is not possible in your own language. Amsterdam is a prime example: if your largest target group are non-Dutch speakers, you respond to that as a store.”
Take a leaf out of Iceland’s book?
Linguistic purism is a policy of creating native-words to replace foreign words. Iceland began the practice in early 19th century by replacing Danish words with new Icelandic words. Nowadays, the Government targets English words which have crept into the Icelandic vocabulary. Linguistic purists believe any topic should be able to be spoken about in the native language, no matter how technical.
On the flip side…
The English Proficiency Index ranks the Netherlands as having the second-best English a non-native English speaking country. I’m not surprised given my Dutch friends are constantly using words I have to put into a thesaurus…
What do you think? Is it unavoidable that languages will change? Or should a hard-line be taken to preserve a native language?