How do the Dutch feel about non-standard features of English?

Here is Michèle Huisman’s first blogpost, and she too is doing a survey for her paper in the course Non-standard English which I’m teaching. So please help her collect data for her upcoming presentation!

In 2017, The Netherlands came first in the English Profiency Index, followed by two Scandinavian countries (Denmark and Norway)  and Singapore. The Index suggests that Dutch people are considered to be highly proficient speakers of English. One of the explanations for this high could be the use of subtitles for English films and television series rather than dubbing the dialogues, as is done in many other countries. As the Reddit map shows, movies and series are only dubbed for children here, whereas in countries such as Germany and France everything is dubbed.

But the Dutch also come in contact with English as a result of globalisation. As mentioned in Allison Edwards’ book English in the Netherlands (2016): “[It is] the forces of globalisation that have seen English spread ever further and become entrenched in yet more societies, including those where it has traditionally been considered a foreign (as opposed to a second) language. Thanks to new communication technologies and global digital media, English has left almost no stone unturned on the world map” (2016: 1).

A lot of research has been done on the position of the English language in The Netherlands, because it is clear that this position is shifting from being a foreign language to becoming the second language in the Low Countries. As Gerritsen et al. mention in their article on the current status of English in The Netherlands: it “is not only a foreign language or international language, but also serves functions’ in various social, cultural, commercial, and educational settings” (2016: 458). It is true that English is taught in school settings in this country, but also due to globalization virtually everyone encounters English on a daily basis  through the social media, American movies and series, YouTube, commercial breaks and streaming services such as Netflix.

All this has made me wonder whether people in the Low Countries are aware of the existence of a distinction between Standard English and non-standard varities of English in terms of language use. What are their attitudes towards English usage problems, such as whether or not it is ok to use a split infinitive, whether they should prefer it is I over me (or not!) and whether a form like between you and I is acceptable? Do the Dutch even care about such distinctions?

To find out, I set up a survey, which I hope you will fill in so that I will have data on this question to report on for my course presentation in a few weeks’ time. I would be very grateful if you could help me with my research!


Edwards, Alison. 2016. English in the Netherlands. John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Gerritsen, M., Frank van Meurs, Brigitte Planken and Hubert Korzilius. 2016. A Reconsideration of the Status of English in the Netherlands within the Kachruvian hree Circles Model. World Englishes 35, 2. 457–474.

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