Proposals for improvement

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ngonyama
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Proposals for improvement

Post by ngonyama » Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:11 pm

I have no idea where to put this, but there it is

Because of my activities at Wiktionary, Wikibooks and here I probably know more about my mother tongue now than when I still lived in Holland, but I have also run into situations where I realized that Dutch is not always treated optimally in various ways. This is imho to the detriment of all speakers, native ones as well as non-native ones, perhaps the latter even more than the former. Below is a list of proposals for improvement. Some of you may not agree with me and that is fine. In fact I'd welcome feedback.

1). The personal pronouns 'hun' and 'hen' should be ratified as synonyms.
2). The pronoun 'die' should be ratified as a personal pronoun for de-words
3). The term 'onovergankelijk' (intransitive) should be abolished
4). The term 'voorzetselbijwoord' (prepositional adverb) should be ratified
5). Impersonal passives should be ratified as an important part of our grammar
6). The plural imperative with -t should be ratified for use with the 'u' polite pronoun
7). Triple separability of words like 'erbovenop' should be made more systematic
8 ). English should cease to get preferential treatment in our orthography
9). The use of the diaeresis in our spelling should be abolished in favor of the hyphen. (or vice versa)
10). The capitalization of 'de Aarde' and 'de Maan' when used astronomically should be ratified.
11). The use of diminutives, including lexicalized one should be fully ratified.
12). Dutch grammar needs to have proper terms for everything.
13). Ratify the use of all clitic pronouns, including 'm, 'r, 't etc.

ad 1). Teodor and I had a discussion earlier about this. As it stands today this would be the only word in Dutch that distinguishes between a dative and an accusative according to official grammar. This does not work, never has, never will. Simply recognizing that the two forms are synonymous would spare a lot of learners -including schoolkids- some grief.

ad 2). This is not far from actual practice in the northern part of the linguistic area. Besides, in this day of feminism and equality we can use a gender-neutral personal pronoun

ad 3). What Dutch grammar lumps together as 'intransitive' really consists of two (if not three) different kinds of verbs with a different grammar.

Ergatives describe a process not an action, take only zijn in the perfect, do not have impersonal passives and the perfect participle can be used as adjective

Inergative describe an action not a process, take hebben in the perfect, do have impersonal passives (thus taking worden and zijn) and the perfect participle cannot be used as adjective.

Then there is a third group that resembles the inergative, except that they do not have impersonal passives. There is not even a good term for that in Dutch grammars. I called them absolute verbs at wiktionary, because I really could not find a term for it....

ad 4). Prepositional adverbs like mee, toe, heen and af play an important role in Dutch, as they form both the pronominal adverbs like hiermee, waartoe, ergens heen, hieraf and the separable verbs like meegaan, toedoen, heenlopen or afgaan. No, they are not prepositions or postpositions. Of course many of them like aan, in, op are also be used as prepositions, but that is besides the point. My point is that "eraan" and "aankijken" do not contain a preposition.

ad 5) Impersonal passives like "er wordt geblaft" are the stepchildren of Dutch grammar, no matter how prominent they are in both spoken and written Dutch. We have seen many questions about "er" here that go back to this neglect. In part this is linked with points 3) and 4): as long as we keep saying that 'blaffen' is 'onovergankelijk' it is hard to explain that it can 'overgaan' in an impersonal passive.

ad 6) The Taaunie has two 'advice' pages about this that imho contradict each other. On this page http://taaladvies.net/taal/advies/vraag ... _word_lid/ it says about imperatives:

Wordt meteen na het werkwoord het persoonlijk voornaamwoord u toegevoegd, dan komt er wel een -t na de stam van het werkwoord: Gaat u maar zitten, Zegt u het maar.

"If the personal pronoun "u" is added immediately after the verb you do add a -t to the stem: Gaat u maar zitten, zegt u het maar."

However on this page http://taaladvies.net/taal/advies/vraag/531 it says

Deze zinnen hebben weliswaar een aansporende, bevelende strekking, maar bevatten geen gebiedende wijs.

"These sentences may have the gist of a stimulsus or command, but do not contain an imperative."

This is demonstrably wrong, consider the sentence:

:Weest u maar niet bang!

The form 'weest' can only be an imperative, because *u weest does not exist (correctly it should be: u bent or possibly u is)

(Question to Flemish speakers: how do imperatives go for speakers who use "gij")

ad 7) If I understand Dutch grammar / spelling correctly it is:

:hij zit boven op de auto
:hij zit erbovenop
:hij zit er niet bovenop

In other words "bovenop" is only used as prepositional adverb, not as preposition (even though, see ad 4)

Why on earth...? To confuse the enemy or so?

Besides, usually the stress pattern for the first sentence is:
:hij zit bóven op de áúto

which means that op is not really a separate word.

ad 8) Many words of French origin (I think about half) have been adapted to Dutch spelling. Unfortunately we are like a cart stuck in the middle of the river on that point and no one has had the intestinal fortitude to pull us out of that since 1954. In fact there are some real oddities like the word maîtresse where Dutch is more French than Hollande. In French that circumflex was dropped some 25 years ago. Another one is riciprocal. It really is
: een reciprook rooster
: het reciproke rooster

but both must now be written with reciproque.

Many words of German origin have pretty much been deleted from the Dutch language since 1945, but no one is allowed to call that purism because purism is below our dignity.

But English words are being imported wholesale now and special spelling rules are even invented to facilitate that.

This unequal treatment of loans is downright discriminatory and thereby unconstitutional

ad 9) Why has naäpen been changed to na-apen but geïntegreerd has not been changed to ge-integreerd? In other words why has Dutch orthography been made even more dependent on people's understanding of grammar? And more complicated? There should be only one way to deal with klinkerbotsing not two.

ad 10) There have been many discussions on Wikipedia about this. When you compare two planets it is rather silly to write "Venus, aarde en Mars" as if Earth is not a planet. Besides geographical names should be capitalized.

ad 11) The Little Bittern is a good example. It is a small nocturnal bird that lives in reedy swamps and makes its presence known with a loud "wow-wow" sound as if there is a child or a little monkey hidden in the reeds. Hence its original name "wouwaapje". Somehow the editors and authors of bird books decided that Dtuch was not good enough. First they made it into "woudaapje" because the mistakenly thought that "wouw" had to be an inferior dialect form of "woud". Hypercorrection that is called. Then they decided that diminutives aren't good enough. So now Wikipdia proclaims that it must be Woudaap which translates into Forest Ape. When are we going to recognize that the diminutive is a legitimate device of our language? In fact it is one of the most productive ones..

ad 12) I have really had to search on line for terms like prepositional adverb, ergative and even more so absolute verb. When it comes to giving things a proper name something liek the ANS is often useless in a weasly and cowardly way. I think my language deserves better treatment than that.

ad 13) Clitics were already in use in Middle Dutch and are an important part of Dutch speech. Yes it matters when you use 'jij' and when 'je'. In Middle Dutch people had no problem with that and simply happily glued them to other words. They would write 'heefti' for 'heeft hij' Later that got frowned upon. (Because it was not Latin enough I suppose), so some of them often don't get written. Even though you still say heeft-ie, you're supposed to write "heeft hij". I think that we should finally recognize that that is simply how the language is and that there is nothing wrong with it. There are other languages with similar distinctions, like Gàidhlig with sinn and sinne or mi and mise. Just because Latin did not have it (or English does not today) does not mean that Dutch cannot have it.

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Re: Proposals for improvement

Post by Crecker » Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:44 pm

I would like to express my opinion about some of those points.

1. Hell yes.
2. I can't really get this... Maybe because my mother language doesn't even have a neuter personal pronoun.
5. I completely agree.
6. You have definitely a good point.
7. I didn't even know about their existence until I needed the verb 'eruitzien'.
8. Absolutely. Also Italian is being occupied by English in the last few years.
9. I would prefer the diaeresis. 'Informatically' speaking the hyphen sign is uncomfortable.
10. I would take that for granted in any language.

Having said that, is there any possibilities to start a petition and submit it to the Taalunie?
Last edited by Crecker on Fri Jun 05, 2015 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ImageImage
Geef me een kus,
Geef me een kus,
Geef me een kus,
En vlug, voor de laatste bus...

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Re: Proposals for improvement

Post by Dolo » Fri Jun 05, 2015 1:13 pm

Crecker wrote:
Having said that, is there any possibilities to start a petition and submit it to the Taalunie?
Wow, we are going to break some serious ground here :-D

As regards the topic, I agree with the most of proposals. Things like "hun/hen' has been messing up a lot of Dutch learners' minds

ngonyama
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Re: Proposals for improvement

Post by ngonyama » Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:03 pm

Thank you Crecker, Dolo.

And yes Dolo I got pretty serious, because I get frustrated at some of the sloppiness around our language that is being put on the plate of the people that are trying to learn it. I think that stinks. And yes I have been running into quite a few issues as you can see. I probably forgot some too. I just thought I should write them down and share them with all of you here.

But a petition... Hmm, that might be a good idea, but we would first have to make sure that people agree. Crecker's point about hyphens being computer monkey wrenches is a real good one. Had not thought of that, but you are quite right! Why on earth the Taalunie had to introduce them in I think '95 has always been a mystery to me. I think it came from the Dutch TV that inserted them left right and center claiming that that made things more 'readable'.

I also have no idea how to make a petition work and get some attention, otherwise it will probably end up in a trash can.

jf

estarling
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Re: Proposals for improvement

Post by estarling » Thu May 05, 2016 6:48 am

Het spijt me voor mijn vorig commentaar.
Dat was niet een van mijn zaken hier.
Last edited by estarling on Sat May 07, 2016 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
***** De onderlijning van fouten en de kritiek over deze tekst zijn welkom.

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Re: Proposals for improvement

Post by Teodor » Fri May 06, 2016 1:33 pm

Good suggestions – I agree with most, if not all of them. First, some personal comments:

8 ) I completely agree with you, but I would even go a step further and just simply abolish the strange practice of treating loanwords as something extraordinary. We should just write them according to the same general rules as any other word.

Today, the general idea is that we should make a distinction between 'bastaardwoorden' and 'leenwoorden'. The first category, they say, consists of words that have been adapted to fit into Dutch phonology and morphology and should be written „the Dutch way“ or at least in a „Dutchier“ way – e.g. „puberteit“, adopted from Latin via the French puberté. The second category, they say, consists of words that haven't been adapted to the Dutch language – e.g. „computer“.

But I think that this disctinction is rather arbitrary. It seems to be influenced by the misconception that languages can contain foreign words – they don't: they contain words of foreign extraction, but never foreign words. Every word that is used in Dutch has by definition been adapted to Dutch phonology: we really don't pronounce „computer“ the same way an Englishman or an American would. Then why don't we just write „kompjoeter“ and get it over with?

Also, how is a 6 year old – those who actually have to learn how to write – to know that „computer“, a word which he has known all his life, isn't a „really“ Dutch word? It sounds Dutch to him/her...

9) I agree, though I would apt for the diaeresis – but that's purely because of sentimental/aesthetic reasons.I though that the semi-abolishment of the diaeresis was because many software programs in the early 90's couldn't handle it (a similar idea even prompted some to suggest that languages like Bulgarian should switch to the Latin alphabet), but we're past that stadium now.

Now, some other proposals of my own:

14) There really should be more consistency in our spelling, particularly in the way we treat voiced and devoiced consonants at the end of verbs in the present indicative.

As you know, we devoice consonants at the end of words: a 'b' at the end of a word is pronounced a 'p', 'd' becomes 't', 'v' becomes 'f', 'z' becomes 's' and, for those that still make that distinction, 'g' becomes 'ch'.
In other words, 'ik heb' is pronounced 'ik hep'. But it's still written with a 'b' because the infinitive is 'hebben'. Likewise we have 'vliegen' → 'ik vlieg' and 'raden' → 'ik raad'. Fair enough, why not? But why then don't we also write 'ik leez' and 'ik leev'? What's the use of an extra rule?

15) We really should abolish the distinction between 'ei' and 'ij'. Yes, they are etymologically distinct, but what use is that to our average 6 year old? What purpuse does this distinction serve, except that we sometimes may feel a bit smug because we've managed to memorise the random spelling of a couple of words better than our neighbour? Let's replace it with one single digraph – be it 'ei' or 'ij' – or even do like our South African cousins and just write 'y'. Or let's just allow everybody to freely chose to write this sound whatever way he or she likes – vreihijd bleihijd!

ngonyama
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Re: Proposals for improvement

Post by ngonyama » Sat May 07, 2016 5:54 am

Teodor wrote:Good suggestions – I agree with most, if not all of them. First, some personal comments:

8 ) I completely agree with you, but I would even go a step further and just simply abolish the strange practice of treating loanwords as something extraordinary. We should just write them according to the same general rules as any other word.

Today, the general idea is that we should make a distinction between 'bastaardwoorden' and 'leenwoorden'. The first category, they say, consists of words that have been adapted to fit into Dutch phonology and morphology and should be written „the Dutch way“ or at least in a „Dutchier“ way – e.g. „puberteit“, adopted from Latin via the French puberté. The second category, they say, consists of words that haven't been adapted to the Dutch language – e.g. „computer“.


but I think that this disctinction is rather arbitrary. of course.. It seems to be influenced by the misconception that languages can contain foreign words – they don't: they contain words of foreign extraction, but never foreign words. Every word that is used in Dutch has by definition been adapted to Dutch phonology: we really don't pronounce „computer“ the same way an Englishman or an American would. Then why don't we just write „kompjoeter“ and get it over with? Well, I could imagine a big fight on what the 'correct Dutch pronunciation' is, especially having so many people who idolize the English language they often don't speak as well as they assume.

Also, how is a 6 year old – those who actually have to learn how to write – to know that „computer“, a word which he has known all his life, isn't a „really“ Dutch word? It sounds Dutch to him/her...

9) I agree, though I would apt for the diaeresis – but that's purely because of sentimental/aesthetic reasons.I though that the semi-abolishment of the diaeresis was because many software programs in the early 90's couldn't handle it (a similar idea even prompted some to suggest that languages like Bulgarian should switch to the Latin alphabet), but we're past that stadium now. Mostly, yes, although I still don't know a way of putting stress marks on "ij". Both the i and the j should get them.

Now, some other proposals of my own:

14) There really should be more consistency in our spelling, particularly in the way we treat voiced and devoiced consonants at the end of verbs in the present indicative.

As you know, we devoice consonants at the end of words: a 'b' at the end of a word is pronounced a 'p', 'd' becomes 't', 'v' becomes 'f', 'z' becomes 's' and, for those that still make that distinction, 'g' becomes 'ch'.That would include me, even though I am from(just) above the Moerdijk. Otherwise:I agree.
In other words, 'ik heb' is pronounced 'ik hep'. But it's still written with a 'b' because the infinitive is 'hebben'. Likewise we have 'vliegen' → 'ik vlieg' and 'raden' → 'ik raad'. Fair enough, why not? But why then don't we also write 'ik leez' and 'ik leev'? What's the use of an extra rule? Bringing back the devoiced z and v would be the smaller change I think. It would also solve oddities like reisde and leefde that give a lot of problems for kids and foreign learners alike. Reizde and leevde please. At least you don't have to teach people that ridiculous artificial difference between 'stem' and 'root'. But yes it will be fought toothz and nailz, I'm sure

15) We really should abolish the distinction between 'ei' and 'ij'. Yes, they are etymologically distinct, but what use is that to our average 6 year old? What purpuse does this distinction serve, except that we sometimes may feel a bit smug because we've managed to memorise the random spelling of a couple of words better than our neighbour? Let's replace it with one single digraph – be it 'ei' or 'ij' – or even do like our South African cousins and just write 'y'.Actually they have both y AND ei! They have simply copied our problem, which is very visible when they confuse "ek het gelei" and "ek het gely" At least in Dutch one is weak and the other strong geleid vs. geleden Or let's just allow everybody to freely chose to write this sound whatever way he or she likes – vreihijd bleihijd!There I disagree. You just get a mess. I'd prefer the ij. I love the puzzled faces of Anglophones at words like lijnrijderij. Vrijhijd blijhijd please.

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