Stroop, J.P.A., 'Towards the end of the standard language in the Netherlands'  in: Leuvensteijn van, J.A. and Berns, J.B. (eds.), Dialect and Standard Language in the English, Dutch, German, Norwegian Language Areas. Proceedings of he Colloquium 'Dialect and the Standard Language', Amsterdam, 15-18 Octobre 1990, Amsterdam, pp. 162-177.

J.P.A. Stroop
University of Amsterdam

Towards the End of the Standard Language in the Netherlands

Lecture at the Colloquium 'Dialect and Standard Language', Amsterdam, 15-18 October 1990

As the dialects nowadays are disappearing because of loss of function, so there is no longer place or function for a homogenous Standard language in a modern society with a high degree of democracy and with people of very different origins.

What we see is a shift of the Standard Language towards the dialects and regiolects, and other kinds of 'lects'. In the Netherlands there are many symptoms which support my convic-tion, that a uniform Standard Language will never exist, because of the absence of interest and need for it.

0. Introduction
This is not a report or a description of any investigation or research. My contribution is only an impressionistic view on some random but - I hope - cohesive observations about the language situation in the Netherlands. I conceived the idea for this paper when I realized that all those immense changes in dialects within an area which also has a Standard Language, can not take place without influencing the Standard Language itself.

Around 30 years ago, several dialectologists argued that the dialects in the Netherlands - as in other European countries - were disappearing at an alarming rate. For dialectology this meant that the time for real investigations and sampling was almost gone: the clock was moving towards midnight, as we were saying to each other, almost daily.

Nowadays these alarming messages seem to be fading, but this does not mean that such prophecies have not come true. On the contrary: dialects in the meaning the word was taken then, languages (grammar and lexicon) which are used in a village or small area, have been dramatically reduced. This means that they have lost a lot of their specific elements, such as phonological, morphological and also lexical items, in wich they differ from other dialects, their so called primary dialect features (Hoppenbrouwers 1990, 40-41, after Schirmunski), and that before too long they will be lost irretrievably.1 Nobody seems to worry about this anymore, because of drastic changes in dialectology itself. No longer are static dialects the object of investigation, but rather changing or even dying dialects.

Dialectologists and sociolinguists are so preoccupied with investigations of dialect reduction, dialect attrition, dialect maintenance and dialect loss, that only a few among them seem to have an ear or an eye for what is going on in the Standard Language. Nevertheless, the spoken Standard language is undergoing the same kind of development as the original dialects: a shift from one extreme of the languagecontinuum towards the other end, but, of course, with the opposite result. Dialects are converging by dropping what separates them, i.e. their primary features; the Standard Language is diverging by adopting more and more elements from all kinds of 'lects'.

1. Views on Standard Language
In the Netherlands, the definition of "Standard Language" by Otto Jespersen has been very popular for years. One of the most important Dutch linguists of the recent past, C.B. van Haeringen, adopted Jespersen's idea that proper, i.e. cultured Dutch is the speech of a person without traces of the area from which he or she originates. Van Haeringen wrote this in 1924. He accepted personal variations but no variations that betray somebody's geographic origin. In many grammars and schoolbooks for different kinds of teaching, Standard Language without variations was propagated, but never openly discussed, because everybody considered it was normal to try to speak without any geographically determined accent. This opinion had already been voiced in the Netherlands one hundred years earlier, i.e. in 1828.2 For the Netherlands one can say that, according to the Jespersen definition, only people whose accent was that of the centre of the provinces of Holland were cultured people, because that area was economicaly speaking superior to the rest. But this does not mean that all educated people spoke this "Hollandic-Dutch". On the contarary: there has never been a time in Dutch language history when people who were born and educated in other provinces spoke Dutch without a local or regional accent.

The discussion about the state of the Dutch Standard Language continued with the appearance of a small booklet by the famous Dutch dialectologist, G.G. Kloeke, the author of the well known book about the Expansion from the provinces of Holland. In 1951 Kloeke stated that the so-called miserable situation of the Dutch Standard language and the neglect of the mother tongue was due to some kind of loss of authority among teachers and writers. On the other hand, however, he disagreed with Van Haeringen since he speaks about "The Legend of the Standard Language" (Kloeke 1951: 8 and 54). Kloeke did not believe in a standard language which is uniform. Nevertheless, he recognized the need to speak in a cultured way. Therefore his publication ends with the statement that the effort to speak in a cultured way is something all civilized people have in common, because it is one of the essential marks of a culture. However, Kloeke's idea of a culture is clearly a very narrow one. In fact, his statement means that only a person who tries to speak in another way than he has learned to speak as a child is a cultured person. I believe that this type of opinion is a thing of the past. In modern, even in not too modern sociology, a completely different idea about culture is normal, as we will see later on (Wouters 1990).

The next sign of reflection on the character of the Dutch Standard Language also comes from dialectologists. In 1988, a group of them made a proposal for a research project to be funded by the Stichting Taalwetenschap ('Dutch Foundation for Linguistics'). Its aim was to describe the pronunciation of Standard Dutch, including the accepted stylistic and geographic variation, and to establish a point of reference, based on the subjective norm of pronunciation in the Netherlands. The plan was to have a group of listeners judge different kinds of speech and to reach a common idea about what kinds of pronunciation are acceptable in Standard Dutch.

It is clear that this view of the Standard Language is totally different from the older opinions. In fact, this plan no longer deals with the Dutch Standard Language as it was defined in the past: a uniform kind of language. Thus it illustrates a very important change in the ideas about Standard Languages. The uniform Standard Language as an ideal has disappeared. Clearly, Dutch society accepts a large degree of variation, but that does not mean that we have to redefine 'Standard Language', which was the point of view of the researchproject leaders. In my opinion, the essence of a real Standard Language, as a fact or even as an ideal, is exactly its uniformity. A community that has given up this ideal accepts a common language which is allowed every further development.

2. The Change of the Standard Language
Anyone who thinks that a language with all kinds of accepted variation can function as a Standard Language is wrong; it is a contradiction in terms. A Standard Language, even as an ideal, is only a realistic concept if it is uniform and homogeneous. Variation is contrary to that idea. It is either Jespersen or nothing at all. A Standard Language which is developing towards another position on the socalled language-continuum is on its way out.

If we keep in mind that famous language-continuum, we see the dialects and the sociolects at one end and the homogeneous Standard Language at the other. As becomes clear from many investigations, most dialects are changing towards the Standard end of the continuum, by giving up first the most extreme features and later on the rest. The result will be a number of socalled 'regiolects' (Hoppenbrouwers 1990: 84). But in the meantime, the Standard Language itself is moving in the opposite direction by adopting more and more elements from regional languages , urban dialects and so on. This is in fact the result of a sort of depolarization. When the original dialects were still alive, the Standard Language offered a very sharp contrast. From the moment dialects lost their most extreme characteristics, the need for a contrastive Standard Language was no longer so great. And so we see both ends of the continuum moving towards one another. Someday they will become one and the same. Since polarization is caused by two factors, the development of one pole losing its extremities automatically brings on the same development of the other pole.

In a given situation, such as in the Netherlands, in which the dialects are moving towards each other and also towards the 'General Language', it is to be expected that there will come a time in which the differences between all regiolects on the one hand and the 'General Language' on the other will be so small that at the next moment the difference is gone or beyond practical use. Following this argumentation, one may expect that Code-switching between Standard Language and Dialect or Regiolect is a phenomenon that is disappearing, because the two codes are coming too close together, especially when people are using their dialects less, in favour of the so-called Standard Language.

Now I would like to give some examples of the changes that have taken place in Dutch pronunciation and also of some grammatical changes. First of all there is a very striking contrast between the Dutch language as a whole as it was broadcast on the radio 50 years ago and the language that one can hear on the radio nowadays. But even a recording of a radio-report from the sixties sounds very dated. I recently heard one by a person who still makes radio reports nowadays and he sounded like he was a different person then, because of his intonation, the more cultivated even 'put on' way of speaking (but notice that this is my present opinion, not that of 30 years ago!). His language shows an impressive evolution over a period of 30 years and I believe that that is the case with everyone. By the way, this idea does not agree very well with the concept of apparent time and the idea that people do not change their language very much after the age of 20. If even the Standard Language of one person changes markedly, what to think of dialect-speakers of the older generations. As far as I know, no one has paid the least attention to this interesting aspect of the Dutch Standard Language.

And now for more details. Other linguists have pointed out in passing that (oral) Standard Dutch adsopts more and more phonological, morphological, and lexcial variants from the urban dialects of the cities in the provinces of Holland. See for example the diphthongized pronunciation of /e./ and /o./ (Hinskens 1985). But, of course, this has been happening for years in almost every region of our country.

Another vowel which is changing in the language of educated people, who, incidentally, are in the majority in 1990, is the diphthong which has its origin in the long high vowel /i./. In Standard Dutch this vowel is represented by the diphthong [ei]: blijven ('to stay'), tijd ('time'), kijken ('to look'), etc.. Most of the time one hears instead a much lower diphthong which is near the English and German representation [ai]. This pronunciation can be heared not only on the ferry between Amsterdam Central Station and the North of Amsterdam (traditionally the part of the city in which most lower class people are living), in the elevator of buildings of the University of Amsterdam, but also in the better record shops, bookshops, by radio, etc.3

In the language of the western part of our country, forms like nie, da, as, effe, vinne, etc. are heard more and more frequently instead of niet ('not'), dat ('that'), als ('if'), even ('even') and vinden ('to find') (Giesbers 1989: 93). Even in radio and TV-programs, made and broadcast in the provinces of Holland, such forms are used, although they originate from other dialects or regiolects. One special item is the so called soft /g/, by which until now people from the southern provinces in special circumstances were discriminated.

Another kind of change has to do with the paradigms of some verbs and pronouns. The moment is not far off, I believe, when the pronoun hun ('them') in subject function will become the normal form, and ze the 'deviant' form (De Rooij 1990: 140-141). The same will happen with hij heb for hij heeft. The form je kan is already normal since years, versus the older form je kunt. Originally, these forms were substandard and mostly used in the cities of the western part of the Netherlands, but more recently these forms have come to be wrongly interpreted as Standard forms and, as such, they have penetrated many other dialects all over the country (De Rooij 1990: 140). Now we see these forms coming back in the speech of dialect speakers, even when they intend to speak Standard Dutch. But also with people using the 'received pronunciation', forms such as hij heb occur more often than the listener is conscious of; in other words, they go almost unnoticed. Perhaps, they have already some kind of 'prestige'.

In 1971 Van Haeringen published an article in which he discussed several changed and accepted pronunciations in the Standard Language. It concerns cases such as ik vin for ik vind, ik wor, for ik word, and forms that have lost the /d/ between vowels: rijen, houwen, and so on. In 1924, the year of his famous article about unity and variation in the pronunciation of cultured Dutch he found these forms quite unacceptable.

At the moment, there is a research project in progress in the city of Heerlen. Object of research is the Standard Language in that Limburg town, as it is spoken by people whose parents are from outside the province. Before the project started it was clear that these people betrayed their Limburg origins just the same, even if they had not spoken a syllable in the local dialect, if they could. So what can we expect from people who were born and raised in a dialect-speaking family. It seems impossible that the so called Standard Language there, will ever be a language without Limburg elements such as intonation, regressive assimilation of voice, etc.

We chose this Limburg city of Heerlen for several reasons. First, there is no other city in the Netherlands in which the population has grown so fast in so short a time, mostly because of people moving in from areas with no Limburg dialect. The second reason is that the original dialect of Heerlen was very different from Standard Dutch, so we believed that in Limburg Standard Dutch dialect influence or penetration would be more obvious. Of course, the same kind of development which creates a Standard Dutch, or better: General Dutch, with dialect influence can be found in many other Dutch cities.

3. The Situation in other Countries
All this is quite different from the expectations we had in the past, for example, about teaching in relation to the spread of the Standard Dutch Language (Jo Daan 1990). But nowadays we are in the strange situation that, despite a well equipped educational system and good teachers, a uniform Standard Dutch or something that comes near that ideal is further away than ever. The paradox is complete in the sense that many more people than in the past have the opportunity to hear Standard Dutch, technically speaking, because of the enormous spread of TV, radio, and so on. However, one thing is different: in the past the radio itself was the medium par excellence for the Standard Language.

This situation has totally changed. As a result of liberal broadcast policy in the Netherlands almost everyone has the possibility to broadcast whatever he or she wants. So at the moment there are a great number of local or regional radio stations that use the local or regional dialects. They show a rainbow of all kinds of variations of Dutch and demonstrate that almost every kind of Dutch is now acceptable. Fifty years ago, such a thing would have been impossible: radio was identified with Standard Language. Everybody who had to speak in front of a microphone would change his speech in several ways, below or above the level of consciousness. The idea that to speak in front of a microphone demands a special kind of language has not disappeared completely, especially not at the national radio stations, but more and more even their language is showing geographically determined variation.

This development of the Standard Language towards a broad spectrum of varieties, in fact the absence of a real Standard Language, is far from exclusive to the Netherlands. Although most of the participants of the Colloquium about "Dialect and Standard Language" held in October 1990 dealt with the influence of a Standard Language on dialects, I have found remarks in several lectures of this Colloquium (which are also published in this volume) which perfectly fit my opinion about a diverging or even a disappearing Standard Language. Trudgill's Abstract ends with the sentence: "We do, however, see a penetration of lowerprestige, non-RP (Received pronunciation) accents into public contexts where formerly only RP was found."

Also in Hanssen's lecture (in this volume) about the Norwegian situation I found some things that reminded me of the Dutch situation. In some respects the development in Norway seems to have proceeded further than the development in the Netherlands. Hanssen makes it clear that the Norwegians use a large number of regional and social dialects, which enjoy a high status in society. People who move to another part of the country normally stick to their primary variety. One can observe this, he says, in nationwide radio and TV programs, like news bulletins, etc.. However there is one main difference between Norwegian and Dutch, because the Norwegian language does not really have any kind of spoken Standard, only a written Standard Language, be it with a great freedom of choice. Hanssen has observed that most of the innovations within Norwegian dialects have their origin in some other social dialect, not the national standard. This is the same process as the one taking place in the Netherlands, and which has resulted in a number of regiolects, or the situation that has developed in the former GDR with its 'regionale Umgangssprache'. (See his contribution - E. Hanssen, 'Variation versus standardisation. The case of Norwegian bokmål: some sociolinguistic trends' - in this volume: Leuvensteijn van, J.A. and Berns, J.B. (eds.), Dialect and Standard Language in the English, Dutch, German, Norwegian Language Areas. Proceedings of he Colloquium 'Dialect and the Standard Language', Amsterdam, 15-18 October 1990).

Helmut Sch÷nfeld has a view on the Standard Language in his country, which is different from mine. He writes that the Spoken Standard Language contains a number of regional variants. I understand that he expects those variants to disappear, while my expectations are the opposite, as far as Dutch is concerned.

In Austria, regional speech is spreading while the Standard Language is still in normal use in public situations. I would like to know, though, what kind of Standard is meant here, because Wiesinger points out that even the Standard Language adopts some dialectal elements (see P. Wiesinger, "Zur Interaktion von Dialekt und Standardsprache in Österreich' in this volume).

4. The Causes of the Change of the Standard Language
Now I have to discuss the reasons why - in my opinion - the Dutch Standard Language is on its way out. First of all, I should mention here the kind of education young people are given, at primary and secondary school, as regards the mothertongue. Especially the attitude of the teachers is of great importance. During the last decades there has been quite a revolutionary change in education, which has reduced the interest in language and the rules of language to a very low level. The capability, even the will to teach children to spell, seems totally absent. Everybody writes according to his or her own system or feelings; only in official writing some people try to write according to the official spelling rules, which were fixed in 1954. The same with other aspects of language-teaching. There is a lot of time in the school programs for teaching and training communication, but very little for things like idiom, speaking, pronunciation and so on.4

Another important question in education is that of the great number of foreigners of all nations which now form a very important part of the Dutch population. In the cities most primary schools have classes with 50% non-Dutch children. It is obvious that this will bring tremendous changes to our language. A time will come when the majority of the people in the Netherlands have parents who originate from foreign countries. And the question, one of the questions, at least, is whether enough time, money and teachers are available to teach all these foreigners as good a Dutch as was wanted in the past, a Standard Dutch as defined by Van Haeringen, a Dutch without foreign elements. In my opinion it is to be expected that this will have an important influence on the 'lowering' of the standard of Dutch and that because of this the number of people who speak SubStandard Dutch in all kinds of varieties will increase enormously and that all those varieties will be accepted.

The other side of the coin: in a situation with such tolerance towards variation, as witnessed by the planned research-project by Dutch Dialectologists, it is clear that it is difficult to find a way to teach the right way. So it is not so strange that teachers who are confronted with different possibilities, all of which are acceptable in a sense, do not know what to teach and what to condemn or correct. So the best way is to keep quiet and talk about other things, literature for example. Making corrective remarks about someone's speech does not create applause nowadays; most of the time one is laughed at.

5. The Change of the Society
All this illustrates a very important change in the Dutch society which has great consequences for all aspects of language and language use. The state of the Netherlands is - at least officially - one of the oldest democracies in the world, but that does not mean that in the past the people themselves had the feeling that they lived in a democracy. Most of the time they had no feelings at all, I suppose, or rather, we do not know what they were feeling and we believe they were satisfied with their position and (lack of) rights. The situation now is quite different in the sense that most of the people in the Netherlands are convinced that they have rights and that people are not only born equal but can also live equal to a certain extent.

In my opinion, the great freedom in spelling, as in other aspects of society which used to be ruled by norms for no other reason than because there should be rules (e.g. clothing, music of all kinds), is one of the results of the sixties. This sort of revolutionary period changed people's minds in such a way that no rules whatsoever were accepted, simply because they were rules. People learned to ask others and themselves the reasons for many rules and in every case the rules were questioned. Also, teaching grammar and pronunciation of the Dutch Language is no longer an important part of the curriculum. So most people do not have a proper idea about what their language is and what it can do.

History makes it clear that people want to try to speak Standard Dutch only to achieve something. A person who has everything he or she wants (status, money, power, etc.) does not need to speak in a different way than he or she likes.

In 1962, Van den Toorn started his article about 'cultured language and the language of cultured people' with a passage from Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair (1848). In that fragment one of the protagonists makes an interesting distinction when somebody has made a 'language error': "but rich baronets do not need to be careful about grammar, as poor governesses must be" (quoted by Van den Toorn 1962:158). So Van den Toorn concludes that in the time of Thackeray rich people also had the privilege of making language errors which a poor governess was not allowed to make. So, in fact, correct use of language means nothing else than socially acceptable use of language.

In a recent article, Guido Geerts also makes a connection between power and the use of language (1987:169). He quotes Mey, who states that the real reason for powerlessness is not the absence of communication; rather the latter is in fact a symptom of the former: this is the way weakness becomes visible.

I think it is interesting to be controversial. So I risk the hypothesis that in every society in which people can function as equals or in which they have built up enough selfconfidence, a uniform Standard Language is no longer a goal to be reached; everbody can stick to his own original language because all language varieties are equal. In other words, social development influences the creation or change of a Standard Language. On this point I completely disagree with Van den Toorn who states that the more equal people become the more uniform they will make their language (Van den Toorn 1974: 275276). It is just the opposite: the more equal people are, the more they will stick to their own language.

I want to go even further: in every situation in which a uniform Standard Language is propagated, people are more or less unequal and they are discriminated against or have feelings of inferiority. They are misled by stories or tales about the need of a Standard Language to achieve something in life. However nobody derives his or her power from the Standard Language, but of course this is only known to the people who have power ... and to Thackeray. One of the main differences - in my opinion - between the situation in Belgium and the Netherlands as far as the position and status of Standard Dutch is concerned, is that in daily life more people in the Netherlands are aware of their rights than in Belgium. Most people in the Netherlands claim tolerance for themselves. I often have the idea that in Belgium there is a greater distance between the man or woman in the street and the authorities. People also are less aggressive or assertive. So Belgium possesses the kind of respect for authority which is a condition for the development of a Standard Language according to the view of Van Haeringen. In Belgium, more people see the value and the importance of such a language and they are very sensitive on this point, this apart from the political role that the standard language plays there. So I think that the idea of a uniform Standard Language as an ideal will live much longer in Belgium than in the Netherlands. But even there it will disappear. And finally we will reach a situation in which all types and variants of language are equal, just as it is our opinion that people are equal.

Perhaps this situation will be not unlike the one we met during our stay in Canada, a few years ago. One day we had a very interesting experience in the district of Hamilton, Canada. In some kind of local folklore museum we heard a man explaining how to spin wool. He spoke English, but his English was so accented that I immediately noticed that he came from Rotterdam. We were very surprised to see that everybody was listening very seriously to what he was saying. Nobody, not even the native speakers of English, seemed to be disturbed at all by his language; everybody appreciated his explanation. No remarks, no laughs. This was totally different from what we often see in the Netherlands.

What is it that makes Canada so different from the Netherlands in this respect, I pondered. Of course, there is the different history. In the beginning the Netherlands were a feudal state, with a very complex hierarchy. Since the Middle Ages the Netherlands have become a society with different classes: a society in wich a few people had a lot of power and money, many people had a little bit of power and most people had no power or money at all. I think that the respect for only one variant, the Standard Language and the negative attitude towards other varieties of Dutch, is a heritage of that society. Discrimination, indeed, is inherent in a society which has a class-system.

The situation is complicated by the fact that until the 19th century the provincies in the Netherlands are autonome, so only during the last two centuries the Dutch Standard Language is spreading all over the country.

Canadian society on the contrary was built by people from everywhere: nobody had more, or was more, than anyone else. You could say: this society is a society with equals, because of the absence of anything with which one could discriminate.

Nowadays we see a strong reduction of many types of discrimination in the Netherlands, even of discrimination of language, which always has been tolerated in our society even if it could damage people's careers.5 Now there is an increasingly positive attitude towards other people's language, especially among the younger generations. The defense of the old Standard Language however is in the hands of the older generation. And here we encounter another paradox. Modern society is growing older, which means that more people are becoming old, but, because retirement age is the same as or even earlier than in the past, the most conservative part of society is unemployed and does not play an important role anymore. As a result most people on radio and TV who have influence are relatively young so what you can hear everyday is more the language of the younger generation than that of all generations. Of course, the opinion of the younger generation about the Language-situation is important to know, because this can give us some insight into their language-choice.

To find out about this I have recently done a small survey among my students in the Department of Netherlandic studies about their opinion of the Standard Language. One of the first things worth mentioning is that their definition of a Standard Language is quite the same as the one by Jespersen, but at the same time they make it clear that this is an unrealistic and undesirable ideal. To the question what kind of speech they find irritating, only a minority answered 'dialectal accents'; most students have more problems with affected speech. This seems to be the opposite of the way it was in the past.

Our students do not want a uniform Standard Language, but it is their main concern, even their only concern, that people can understand each other. So in their opinion there is only the need for a language that is general enough. But to reach that aim it seems no longer necessary for people to learn the foreign language that the Standard Language for most of them actually is, but to let the process I have mentioned take its course. By that process all varieties, including the Standard variety, are coming closer, so in the end we automatically speak more or less the same language.

6. Standard Language and Informalisation of Society
This development of the Standard Language, which I have discussed above and which finds its illustration in the small survey of the Amsterdam students, is not an isolated one; far from it. The work of Norbert Elias shows that language, and in this case the Standard Language, is part of the civilisation process as he describes it and as further developed by Wouters (1990). According to Elias the essence of the civilisation process in the 20th century has two aspects: the reduction of contrasts and at the same time the increase in variation.

Talking about non-linguistic aspects of civilisation Wouters states that the contrasts are minimalized, the extremes of behaviour and emotion are coming closer to each other, the continuum of behaviour, emotion and morals has become less broad than before. The norms by which people judge each other's behaviour are less rigid and nonnormal behaviour is supposed to be excused by external factors and extenuating circumstances. This process as a whole is called 'informalisation'.

Of course this informalisation also reflects on the Standard Language. So Hoppenbrouwers (as Van den Toorn before) has made a mistake by expecting that the civilisation-process will lead to the standardisation or the uniformisation of the common language. The period of informalisation in which we live now causes the norms within society to become freer than before and places people in situations in which they have to make their own rules and norms. They are thrown back upon their own resources; they will have to find their own proper balance in all the different circumstances in which they are placed.

As far as language is concerned this means that the extremes (say the dialects on the one hand and the homogeneous Standard Language on the other) are disappearing and that the so called Standard Language is changing into a broad spectrum of variations which are all accepted. This agrees very much with the development as described in the previous pages and which differs completely from the rather static situation described and defended by Kloeke. In 1924, Van Haeringen had a very different expectation, when he wrote: "The ideal of the future, or let me be more neutral, the direction in which the development is going, is that both of these (i.e. the unified language and the Dutch of cultured people) are really identical, in other words, that everybody who wants to speak in a cultured way will try to unlearn all dialect elements." (My translation, JS). He called this irresistable. In 1990, in a period with the best educational system that has ever existed in the Netherlands, with the possibility of participation for almost everyone who wants to, I dare to say that a unified language, which in no way betrays the speaker's origin or status, is further out of reach than ever: because of lack of interest, it has now disappeared behind the horizon.


1. See also the interview with Peter Trudgill in the Dutch paper De Volkskrant, 20 October 1990: 'Traditional dialects are dying in a catastrophic way' (my translation, JS). Back

2. In 1828 Van der Felz, in his days burgomaster of Epe, wrote: 'However to get a good and pure language it is necessary to pronounce it exactly as in the written language, and in such a way that no one can hear the region a person comes from.' (my translation, JS)
    ("het evenwel een vereischte is dat, om eene goede zuivere taal te hebben men die behoort uit te spreken zo als dezelve geschreven wordt zonder te kunnen horen in welke Streek des Lands iemand thuis behoort") (See: Daan 1989: 198) Back

3. This is also the opninion of the Dutch language-investigator and dialectologist Prof. dr. A. Weijnen, as he told me. Back

4. Personal information by Mrs. M. Barend-Van Haeften, teacher in Diadacts, University of Amsterdam. Back

5. This kind of discrimination is not unlike the discrimination by for example a TV-station which refuses a person because of colour of skin; in the latter case the discrimination is covered by other arguments, discrimination by language is defended straight and openly. See also Daan 1989: 238. Back


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Article published on the WWW: October 1999