New and improved

exclamation mark

There is a Dutch quiz show called Question sign instead of Question mark.

Postbus 51 is a girl. It won a usability award, but apparently text eventually became unimportant:

“Less than a year later, it launched it’s first website, with an email information service. The site was completely restyled in 2002. In 2002 Postbus 51 won the Usability award assigned by 2C Communication Technology. Now three years later Postbus 51 has improved her website.”

And then a nice, intellectual bit about new words:

“Today, the influence of English is so strong that it has resulted in the creation of new words that look English, but do not really exist in that language. An example is the word mainport for a major international airfield. (The correct English word is hub.) Sometimes, the spelling of words is changed (e.g., the Nijenrode University now calls itself Nyenrode), and even the word order is changing. The word echter (however) used to be placed at the beginning of a sentence, but is now often placed after the subject, as in ‘Varieties, however, abound.’ It is interesting to note that the captains of industry, who in the 1920’s introduced English expressions to impress others, have in the 1990’s reverted to a studied purism, including, once again, the difference between masculine and feminine words. Everyone uses those English expressions now, after all.”

10 Responses to “New and improved”

  1. Marcel Post says:

    Heb jaren in Groningen gewoond en fietste regelmatig langs een badkamer en -assesoire winkel aan de Oosterhamrikkade. Als adspirant taalpurist kreeg ik bij elke langsgang een rilling over de rug (en niet van het koude water).

    Kijk en huiver.

  2. Larry says:

    My experience has been that ‘mainport’ is also applied to maritime ports, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily a Dunglish coinage:

    So it could actually be sociology/urban planning jargon in English.

  3. Natashka says:

    Here is where I got my educated assumption:

  4. Larry says:

    Yeah, I saw that too. He’s not really backing that assertion up, though, so there are still three possibilities:

    1. Mainport does exist in English but it is little known and has been borrowed into Dutch in some context.
    2. It doesn’t exist in English and is a Dunglish invention.
    3. It has found its way into English through a bunch of theses and presentations by Dutch academics.

    Maybe it’s just supposed to be ‘main port’, which makes sense in that I’ve usually seen it in reference to Rotterdam.

  5. Natashka says:

    I just happen to be editing a text about Schiphol and the word the Dutch author uses is ‘hub’. Rotterdam has the largest port in Europe and was until recently the world’s busiest port, according to Wikipedia. Schiphol is the fourth biggest airport in Europe. I don’t see why it would be called anything else than a hub. And hubs are big!

  6. Larry says:

    Hubs aren’t necessarily big – they just need to have a convergence of transportation in the area.

    How do you account for the use of ‘mainport’ on the distinctly non-Dutch site I cited above?

    Or here, in a paper by a UK academic?

    I do think it’s odd that most of the English-language hits for mainport are either written by Dutch people or by English speakers discussing spatial planning/transportation in the Netherlands.

  7. Natashka says:

    That last bit is pretty much my point. It’s a Dutch concept that apparently uses an English-looking word. I had never heard that word before in my life.

    I’ve edited several Dutch spatial planning books and authors tend to cling to this non-English, thinking it’s English. They are often shocked at finding out that it’s not English, but want it changed to be better understood by non-Dutchies. Ziezo.

  8. Larry says:

    I don’t know why they would think it was English or be shocked to find out it wasn’t, if in fact they had made it up themselves and/or never encountered it in texts written by English speakers. The fact that it’s one word instead of two suggests it may actually be a Dutch invention (an online VROM glossary actually gives ‘main port’ as the English equivalent!) but what would it be a literal translation of? The fact that it occurs in native-English texts seems to indicate that English speakers don’t find it all that objectionable or incomprehensible.

    Having said that, I don’t think it’s a particularly useful word when there are already words like ‘hub’ and ‘node’ in usee. So we’re sort of in agreement.

  9. Fritz P. says:

    Unless I’ve misunderstood the author that bit about the word ‘echter’ is wrong. It’s actually the other way around. It used to be that you had to put the word ‘echter’ after the subject and its verb. Now, under the influence of English more and more people are placing it at the beginning:
    It’s also more of a Dutch thing I think as the Flemish seem to prefer to leave their ‘echter’ where it is.

  10. Angela says:

    Beste Marcel,

    Is jouw benoeming “adspirant taalpurist” een grapje? Zo nee, het is aspirant en accessoires… 😉

Powered by WordPress - Copyright © 2005-2021 Oh La La, The Netherlands. All rights reserved.