This is Cassandra Nijon’s first blog post. It is actually her second, but I’m still in the process of editing the earlier one, so have a little patience! This one jumps the queue because she’d like to have your feedback. If you are a speaker of Dutch, that is.
In Dutch, as in many other languages, an innovative quotative construction gained widespread popularity from the 1970s on. This construction, which introduces a report of speech, thoughts or attitudes, is (zo)(iets) van (lit. “so of”, “something of”), perhaps most (in)famous in its guise as ik heb zoiets van (“I have something like,” lit. “I have something of”), and comparable to English be like in many ways.
Although this construction is quite common in contemporary spoken Dutch (listen carefully and you’ll most likely hear it used multiple times a day), it is neither listed among the senses of van in the Van Dale online dictionary nor does the Dutch Language Union’s Taaladvies (Language Advice) website have anything to say on it.
Some individual maintainers of language advice blogs and writers of language-related columns have struck out on their own, and their advice is: don’t use it. At some point at the turn of the millennium the construction even had its own anti-website, but sadly that has been irretrievably lost.
However, these anti-van spaces have a limited readership, so what I’m interested in is what individual speakers think about this construction. And to that end I am currently running a questionnaire on the topic (the questionnaire can be found here). Please consider helping me with my research by taking the time to fill it out. (If you have tips, comments, or questions, please leave a comment below.)