Flemish not afraid of rise of English

9th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 September 2005, AMSTERDAM — Speakers of Dutch are confident about the future of the language, with eight out of 10 Dutch and Flemish people expecting it to stand its ground in the face of the rise of English.

9 September 2005

AMSTERDAM — Speakers of Dutch are confident about the future of the language, with eight out of 10 Dutch and Flemish people expecting it to stand its ground in the face of the rise of English.

Doomsday scenarios about English becoming the dominant language in the Netherlands and the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium are not realistic, according to the Dutch language union Taalunie.

It based its findings on a survey of 550 Dutch people, 300 Flemish people and 250 Surinamese nationals.

The results of the survey were published on Thursday and show that almost all the people questioned are proud of their language. 

Interestingly, the Dutch people who took part in the survey were more enthusiastic about Flemish than their own variety of Dutch. Almost three quarters of the Surinamese people think their dialect of Dutch is beautiful. But only one in five like the standard Dutch spoken in the Netherlands.

Before the summer recess, two Dutch parties put froward draft legislation to strengthen the position of Dutch and to anchor the language in the Constitution of the Netherlands.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrat Party (CDA) and the small Protestant party ChristenUnie warned Dutch was losing ground to English, particularly in education.

There are 54 bilingual primary schools and 65 bilingual secondary schools in the Netherlands, the Taalunie said on Thursday.

But native Dutch people are not worried the rise of English in schools will harm the Dutch language. In fact, people between the ages of 25 to 49 — the age group with school-going children — actually welcome the rise of bilingual education.

These parents feel their children should start learning a foreign language at the earliest age possible.

CDA parliamentarian Jan de Vries is on stronger ground with his concerns about the adverse impact of SMS messaging on Dutch. People aged 35 and above share his worry young people are spending too much time learning the ungrammatical short-cuts and abbreviations used in mobile text messages.

The Taalunie also raised question marks about the reading habits of Dutch speakers. Flemish people read on average 10 books a year, while the Surinamese read 15 and the Dutch 16.

When asked to name a Dutch-language author, most of the Flemish people named Annie M.G. Schmidt, with one in five unable to recall any other Flemish writers.

Dutch people and Surinamese readers named Jan Wolkers, with one in 10 people in the Netherlands unable to name another author.

Only a handful of Flemish and Dutch people questioned knew the names of any Surinamese writers. 

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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