Denglish or Dutchglish – are other countries ‘selling out’ to English?

The Volkskrant newspaper in the Netherlands printed an article today (for those who read Dutch, Germanists will no doubt also understand a large amount, for the others Google translate may help a little: http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/3184/opinie/article/detail/3096817/2011/12/29/Laten-we-nu-eens-ophouden-met-dat-rare-Engels-van-ons.dhtml) about ‘weird’ English (for want of a better translation). The columnist, Rik Smits, indicates that it is time the Dutch started teaching their “imported” students to use correct Dutch rather than bombarding them with lectures in incorrect English. The Dutch have a knack for undermining their own language and culture in favour of a more international aura.

I notice around me that the Dutch are very proud of their level of English – just yesterday out shopping with a friend we were addressed in English even though we both speak fluent Dutch (sorry, my friend, as a true born and bred Antwerp girl, would claim she speaks fluent Flemish, but let’s leave that for another discussion) simply because the shop assistant heard us talking English (old habits die hard). And of course on a basic, communicative level, the shop assistant spoke perfect English – we understood her message exactly. But go a step further and the communication involves plenty of code-switching and non-verbal language in order to still be considered comprehensible. Ok, this is just a shop assistant and where else in the world will ‘simple’ shop assistants automatically and with ease switch over to English? But what about at a higher level? What about students, teachers, academics? It has to be said, Rik Smits has a valid point though as my toes curl when I hear the charcoal English spoken over here (to use two very Dutchisms in my English) by the more ‘educated’ (I realise I sound pompous, but just for the sake of illustration)– let’s call it ‘Denglish’ shall we? Or should we call it ELF and just accept that fluency is much more important than accuracy?

I’m curious to know what any readers notice about English creeping into the local culture and language and your opinions on this matter……

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2 thoughts on “Denglish or Dutchglish – are other countries ‘selling out’ to English?

  1. You’re absolutely right : I speak Flemish !!! Didn’t know I was in your blog. 🙂 You forgot to mention that the shop assistant complimented me on the fact I spoke a little bit of Dutch already. Still think that was hilarious.

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