Media revolts against 'double-Dutch' revision

19th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

19 December 2005, AMSTERDAM — Flemish Education Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has backed the decision by his colleague in The Hague not to bow to pressure from media outlets to undo a major reform of the Dutch language.

19 December 2005

AMSTERDAM — Flemish Education Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has backed the decision by his colleague in The Hague not to bow to pressure from media outlets to undo a major reform of the Dutch language.

Major Flemish newspapers 'De Standaard' and 'De Morgan' are to decide early next year whether to adopt the revision in the latest edition of the the Dutch language bible, 'De Groene Boek'. The revised spellings for Dutch words comes into force in August 2006.

'De Standaard' is likely to accept the new spelling. "‘We are inclined to follow the Taalunie," Editor In Chief Peter Vandermeersch said. He said the revision introduced new inconsistencies, but it was still a step forward.

Newspaper 'De Tijd' decided to accept the revision "to have somewhere to cling onto", Editor In Chief Marc van Cauteren said. "Otherwise I am worried we will end up with a mishmash."

The changes have been proposed by the Taalunie (language union), the body that coordinates the standard spellings and grammar for Dutch spoken in the Netherlands, the Flemish part of Belgian and in the former Dutch colony of Suriname.

The media in the Netherlands is up in arms about the new revisions. National newspapers 'NRC Handelsblad', 'Trouw' and 'de Volkskrant', several news magazines, national news service NOS and internet news site Planet.nl have rejected the changes.

They claim that the adaptation of the spelling rules are illogical and that the revision has come too soon after the last change in 1995.

The largest-selling newspaper in the Netherlands, 'De Telegraaf', said the complaints were logical, but that it was highly undesirable that the media would put forward an alternative spelling.

Dutch Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven has said she will not undo the changes in the face of a threatened boycott by the media in the Netherlands. She expressed surprise that the media has waited until now to complain.

The revision of 'De Groene Boek' was presented in April this year. And, she said, the coming changes were a reaction to criticism of the spelling changes in 1995.

The new 'Groene Boek' contains 6,000 new words, of which 1,500 come from Surinamese Dutch. The total word list has been reduced from 110,000 to 102,000. Spelling rules have also been changed.

The new standard will come into force for the government and education system on 1 August 2006.

The Taalunie has rejected claims this will lead to a need for a total re-writing of school books.

Maarten van den Toorn, chairperson of the Taalunie's spelling workgroup, said the threatened media boycott would be unwise. But interviewed on the Dutch radio programme 'Cappuccino' on Saturday, he said the rebellion was to be expected.

"Something like this happens every time changes are made to the spelling. People get up on their hind legs, very often unjustly. It always leads to the release of a lot of emotion," he said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Belgian news, Dutch news, Nederlands

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