English 1, Dutch 0

Shopping signs in the Netherlands

‘Shops’ in the ‘high street’ are full of English (in Dutch)

Shopping in major Dutch cities automatically means that much of what you read will be in English. Just ignore the signs maybe? Just going to work you will be hit with an average of 250 adverts a day. Some say don’t worry, this too shall pass, others are pretty annoyed and wonder what’s wrong with Dutch pride. I thought that if you tried to be something you’re not, you’ll be caught out. Well, the Dunglish folks have been caught out, but they have no back-up plan. Just stick your finger in the dike, I guess. Oh, and the author uses British English to make her point and then quotes someone who blames it on American English.

10 Responses to “English 1, Dutch 0”

  1. Larry says:

    In het weekend lekker shoppen met de kids, fun toch?

    Seriously, I don’t see the situation getting any better unless the Dutch develop some kind of pride in their language they way the Icelanders do (just to give an example).

  2. Larry says:

    Seen this?


    The irony is that ‘tattoo’ (in the military sense) actually comes from ‘taptoe’!

  3. Tjaard says:

    I recall that the French had laws against this…

  4. Natashka says:

    The province of Québec in Canada has some heavy duty laws that have been an issue for decades now. Just start by trying to understand “Bill 101” and you will find out about the laws against English signs.

  5. Larry says:

    And not just against English signs. I recall there was a bookstore in Montreal that stocked books in French, English and Spanish, so they had a sign outside saying ‘Librairie – Bookstore – Librería’ in letters of equal size. They would get handwritten notes under their door saying ‘Change your sign or we’ll change it for you. Loi 101.’

    Funny how it’s still *Bill* 101 in English, as if it never became law.

  6. Natashka says:


    Ah yes, those were the days. It’s changed a lot since.

    I got beaten up at school by anglophones when I was young because my father spoke French. And I was beaten up at school for having a mother who couldn’t speak French properly by francophones. Nobody gets first prize from me for taking the high road 🙂

    But Dutch scoiety disrespects its own language and that’s just masochistic.

  7. rob says:

    It’s not masochistic, it’s stupid.

  8. Larry says:

    It’s both masochistic and stupid. Masochistically stupid, stupidly masochistic. No other country so willingly forsakes its own language for another (and gets it wrong so often in doing so) and discourages outsiders who want to learn (‘Why would you want to? It’s so difficult!’).

  9. Edwinek says:

    We could of course start by always asking shop staff to translate all their signs for us. Again and again.

  10. Natashka says:

    1. Who is us?
    2. Translation is usually not in their job decription. If they could translate, they’d probably have a better job 🙂

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