Breaking English

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Dunglish has been quoted by a Ph.D. student!

Since I keep repeating that the Dutch criticise their own countrymen about the use and misuse of English (I’m like their message board, really), here is a Dutch article on a Ph.D. thesis which basically says that:

– North Americans are the most irritated by Dutch people’s broken English.
Survey says.
– The accent of the native English speaker influences how they perceive certain Dutch pronunciations.
It must be true.
– North Americans picked up less on the mistakes, but were more irritated.
And apparently this was a “surprising conclusion”.
– The most irritating mistakes were stress at the wrong place in words.
Someone I know mispronounced “catastrophe” the other day and I had to say something.
– The Dutch had their mistakes explained to them, which they apparently underestimated.
I hear this often. I still don’t get why Dutch people teach English to Dutch people.
– Pronunciation differences between Dutch and English is not a priority in the educational system.
They can’t even find enough teachers for school children here!

9 Responses to “Breaking English”

  1. Larry says:

    In my experience, North Americans are more likely than other speakers of English to compliment the English skills of any non-native speaker, so the Dutch must be doing some really terrible stuff.

    The Dutch underestimate their mistakes in English because they overestimate their English skills (and are complimented by English speakers, which just reinforces their perception). They’re intellectually lazy and complacent about the difficult of English.

    End of massive generalization.

  2. Michael says:

    I’m willing to bet that the average native Dutch speaking person’s English is better than the average native English speaking person’s Dutch, though…

  3. Natashka says:

    The big difference is that any non native Dutch speaker is very aware of their Dutch talents or lack thereof, and I hear much more underestimating that overestimating going on.

    I finally stopped saying “dit week” this year 🙂

  4. Asnanne says:

    Erg leuk om te lezen wat voor idiote fouten wij Nederlanders maken. Geniale site…

    Good point Michael!
    I’m 16 and i’m learing english at school.
    I am now realizing how difficult english is. (verbs and stuff)
    And i’m wondering why anyone wants to learn Dutch… It must be hard..

    Deze week B-)

  5. Jasper Sprengers says:

    The sound patterns in one’s native language and the way these are phonetically distinctive will determine how difficult it is to understand and pronounce a foreign language tolerably. It explains why the Italians have trouble with the richer English vowel system and why the Dutch and Germans cannot distinguish ‘bed’ and ‘bet’. Don’t worry next time a Japanese speaker confuses ‘he’ and ‘she’. These two consonants simply do not distinguish word meaning in their language. It’s nothing cultural 🙂

  6. M says:

    I’ve lurked on your site awhile and this post made me think of the volunteering I’ve started to do at a Dutch school in Amsterdam. I’m American, and every other week I’ll go to the school to just converse in English with a group of 4 kids. I’ve just had one session so far, but I was already quite amazed at their level of English considering they’re only 10-11 and don’t take formal English classes at school. During my time there this week I taught them various names of animals as we went through a book on Dutch wildlife. But I like to think that I’m helping to save these four kids at least from poor English. =)

  7. dollev says:

    I’m not sure if it is true that the majority of the Dutch “overestimate their English skills”. On the contrary, we like to make fun of our “steenkolen Engels”.

    Speaking for myself, i am aware that my knowledge of the
    English language is not perfect, and especially my speech could use a lot of improvement. However, that does not keep me from writing and conversing in English and feeling comfortably about it. If that ticks anybody off, because he/she is suspecting me of believing that my English is flawless, so be it.

    Although i think that my English teacher did an excellent job, maybe my English skills would have fared better with a teacher from the British isles. That teacher should also be able to speak Dutch fluently in order to teach her/his Dutch students. I find it hard to believe that there are enough people with that specific set of linguistic skills out there.

    English is developing as a second language in the Netherlands and it has a life of its own. I don’t know how many generations it will take, but in the end the Dutch will fluently speak a form of English that is mangled and deformed in its own unique way. Another fine addition to all the other English dialects that can be found around the world today.

  8. Emily M. says:

    Greetings from an English teacher! I came across your blog posting after searching for teach english and your post on Breaking English makes an interesting read. Thanks for sharing. I will search online more next Monday when I have the day off.

  9. Emily M. says:

    Hello, I came across your blog posting after searching for teach english and your post on Breaking English makes an interesting read. Thanks for sharing. I will search online more next Friday when I have the day off.

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