A Dutch Language Club

Usage guides seem to be a typical English language product. As for Dutch, I was only aware of the existence of Eten, vuren en beuken: keiharde regels voor interpunctie by  Wim Daniëls, a Dutch version of Lynne Truss’s Eats shoots and leaves. A not very successful publication, strangely enough, in complete contrast to its English parent.

Until Saturday, when I stumbled upon a booklet called Groter als. Nieuwe regels voor het Nederlands van nu by De Taalclub at an Amnesty International book sale in Leiden, where I live. It takes an amazing approach: presenting 95 pages of alphabetically arranged Dutch usage problems, it discusses the issue, and then takes a decision. In doing so, it offers readers very clear usage advice, of the kind: from now on, both are possible. Examples are the contested word order of auxililiary + past participle or vice versa, which is largely variable in Dutch (is geweest/geweest is), or the grammatical gender of the diminitive for “girl”, meisje, which may be neuter but is intuitively feminine.

But who are De Taalclub? All it says in the introduction is that the proposals presented in Groter als are supported by a large number of people (p. 12). Does anyone know? Has anyone read the book? And for those who cannot read Dutch, is their advice, which I’d like to stress does not represent an “anything goes” approach, acceptable?

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2 Responses to A Dutch Language Club

  1. Marten says:

    The writer seems to be Wim Daniëls, the translator of Eats Shoots and Leaves. Evidence comes from Ewoud Sanders, a language journalist and etymologist (see link below).
    http://weblogs.nrc.nl/woordhoek/2008/03/25/groter-als/

  2. Great! So the information has been around for a while already. Have you read the discussion following the article?

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