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Dumbing down Dutch?

Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 11:35 am
by palikala
This is something that has been on my mind for quite some time now. Ive been studying Dutch for about 5 years now and I believe Im past the B2 level. There arent a lot of materials for one to use after he or she passes this level (or so I believe), so I had to turn to books written by natives for natives. I graduated university (I was studying in Dutch as well) and I had to write A LOT of reports, papers, and what not. So in order to improve my written Dutch, I turned to books that were mostly about written Dutch and improving that.

A lot of these books cater towards the style and substance instead of grammar, as a lot of these books already presume you are a native Dutch person as well. Anyways, what I have noticed while reading these books is that a lot of the advices pretty much boil down to "write like a 5 year old". A bunch of advice that Ive gathered so far:
- split longer sentences into more
- use simple conjunctions or prepositions
- dont use passive voice
- dont use naamwoordstijl

And so on and so on. I find this really...puzzling. Why are these books so afraid of using more difficult words? Is it such a sin when I use "ten aanzien van" instead of "over"? I find it especially frustrating, because I wanna show that i know all these "difficult" terms and that i can use them correctly. I dont want my reports to read like a book for children. What is wrong with passive? Why does everythign have to be done by someone? I love passive, it gives you the vague idea and I really doubt that people wouldnt understand a sentence if I would write it in passive instead of active time.

Anyways, does anyone feel the same around here? I feel so grateful that I have this vast knowledge of crazy old terms like hetgeen, hetwelk, being able to compherend longer sentences without forgetting the beginning, and so on. Why should I pretty much dumb my language down for others? #-o

Re: Dumbing down Dutch?

Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:18 pm
by ngonyama
palikala wrote:This is something that has been on my mind for quite some time now. Ive been studying Dutch for about 5 years now and I believe Im past the B2 level. There arent a lot of materials for one to use after he or she passes this level (or so I believe), so I had to turn to books written by natives for natives. I graduated university (I was studying in Dutch as well) and I had to write A LOT of reports, papers, and what not. So in order to improve my written Dutch, I turned to books that were mostly about written Dutch and improving that.

A lot of these books cater towards the style and substance instead of grammar, as a lot of these books already presume you are a native Dutch person as well. Anyways, what I have noticed while reading these books is that a lot of the advices pretty much boil down to "write like a 5 year old". A bunch of advice that Ive gathered so far:
- split longer sentences into more
- use simple conjunctions or prepositions
- dont use passive voice
- dont use naamwoordstijl

And so on and so on. I find this really...puzzling. Why are these books so afraid of using more difficult words? Is it such a sin when I use "ten aanzien van" instead of "over"? I find it especially frustrating, because I wanna show that i know all these "difficult" terms and that i can use them correctly. I dont want my reports to read like a book for children. What is wrong with passive? Why does everythign have to be done by someone? I love passive, it gives you the vague idea and I really doubt that people wouldnt understand a sentence if I would write it in passive instead of active time.

Anyways, does anyone feel the same around here? I feel so grateful that I have this vast knowledge of crazy old terms like hetgeen, hetwelk, being able to compherend longer sentences without forgetting the beginning, and so on. Why should I pretty much dumb my language down for others? #-o
OH thank you.... I have had that sort of 'advice' here too regarding English. Even though use of the passive voice is standard practice in scientific writing -and for excellent reasons: we scientists should at least try to take our ego out of the equation- students are being taught(!) not to use it in their English classes. It is infuriating UTTER NONSENSE. We have even had problems between the chemistry and english department over it here.

In Dutch it is even more nonsensical than in English, because the Dutch passive voice is more readily recognizable, as it uses a separate auxiliary for it (worden). Also the use of impersonal passives (with er) is very common and very readable in Dutch. Passives, both personal and impersonal are a powerful tool for expression in our language. I don't know where this assault on our language came from, but you are absolutely right: please do not write like a five year old, although even five-year-olds may well use passive voice...

There is also nothing wrong with subordinate clauses as long as the sentence does not get too long. Dutch actually allows for more complex sentences that English because the word order keeps them more distinct. Of course: don't overdo it, because it makes things harder and more tiring to read.

Things like ten aanzien van are fine in written language although they do make the style a bit heavier. Overdoing that can make you sound like a bereaucrat or a pompous person. It depends on the register: the occasion.

I don't know what you mean by naamwoordstijl and would appreciate an example.

But in general: please do not dumb down your Dutch. Help us preserve our language in all its means of expression! If necessary shame Dutch speakers if they cater to this nonsense. Even though Big Brother is watching us, we should refuse to learn Newspeak.

Re: Dumbing down Dutch?

Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:43 pm
by Dolo
Maybe the books you guys mentioned cater for beginner speakers of Dutch and they endavour to simplify some of the rules not to discourage 'newbies' by introducing some harder elements. Some rookies may feel quite overwhelmed by the complexity of passive voice and longer sentences.

Re: Dumbing down Dutch?

Posted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:51 am
by palikala
Dolo wrote:Maybe the books you guys mentioned cater for beginner speakers of Dutch and they endavour to simplify some of the rules not to discourage 'newbies' by introducing some harder elements. Some rookies may feel quite overwhelmed by the complexity of passive voice and longer sentences.
No, unfortunately. As I have stated, all those books were written by natives for native speakers.

Re: Dumbing down Dutch?

Posted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:04 pm
by palikala
ngonyama wrote: OH thank you.... I have had that sort of 'advice' here too regarding English. Even though use of the passive voice is standard practice in scientific writing -and for excellent reasons: we scientists should at least try to take our ego out of the equation- students are being taught(!) not to use it in their English classes. It is infuriating UTTER NONSENSE. We have even had problems between the chemistry and english department over it here.

In Dutch it is even more nonsensical than in English, because the Dutch passive voice is more readily recognizable, as it uses a separate auxiliary for it (worden). Also the use of impersonal passives (with er) is very common and very readable in Dutch. Passives, both personal and impersonal are a powerful tool for expression in our language. I don't know where this assault on our language came from, but you are absolutely right: please do not write like a five year old, although even five-year-olds may well use passive voice...

There is also nothing wrong with subordinate clauses as long as the sentence does not get too long. Dutch actually allows for more complex sentences that English because the word order keeps them more distinct. Of course: don't overdo it, because it makes things harder and more tiring to read.

Things like ten aanzien van are fine in written language although they do make the style a bit heavier. Overdoing that can make you sound like a bereaucrat or a pompous person. It depends on the register: the occasion.

I don't know what you mean by naamwoordstijl and would appreciate an example.

But in general: please do not dumb down your Dutch. Help us preserve our language in all its means of expression! If necessary shame Dutch speakers if they cater to this nonsense. Even though Big Brother is watching us, we should refuse to learn Newspeak.
I agree as well! Passive voice is such a great tool when writing scientific papers.

Naamwoordstijl is changing verbs into subjectives (ie stijgen becomes stijging).
Door het nemen van de juiste maatregelen kan een verdere stijging van de personeelskosten worden voorkomen.
vs
Als u de juiste maatregelen neemt, voorkomt u dat de personeelskosten verder stijgen.

Re: Dumbing down Dutch?

Posted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:24 pm
by ngonyama
palikala wrote:
ngonyama wrote: OH thank you.... I have had that sort of 'advice' here too regarding English. Even though use of the passive voice is standard practice in scientific writing -and for excellent reasons: we scientists should at least try to take our ego out of the equation- students are being taught(!) not to use it in their English classes. It is infuriating UTTER NONSENSE. We have even had problems between the chemistry and english department over it here.

In Dutch it is even more nonsensical than in English, because the Dutch passive voice is more readily recognizable, as it uses a separate auxiliary for it (worden). Also the use of impersonal passives (with er) is very common and very readable in Dutch. Passives, both personal and impersonal are a powerful tool for expression in our language. I don't know where this assault on our language came from, but you are absolutely right: please do not write like a five year old, although even five-year-olds may well use passive voice...

There is also nothing wrong with subordinate clauses as long as the sentence does not get too long. Dutch actually allows for more complex sentences that English because the word order keeps them more distinct. Of course: don't overdo it, because it makes things harder and more tiring to read.

Things like ten aanzien van are fine in written language although they do make the style a bit heavier. Overdoing that can make you sound like a bereaucrat or a pompous person. It depends on the register: the occasion.

I don't know what you mean by naamwoordstijl and would appreciate an example.

But in general: please do not dumb down your Dutch. Help us preserve our language in all its means of expression! If necessary shame Dutch speakers if they cater to this nonsense. Even though Big Brother is watching us, we should refuse to learn Newspeak.
I agree as well! Passive voice is such a great tool when writing scientific papers.

Naamwoordstijl is changing verbs into subjectives (ie stijgen becomes stijging).
Door het nemen van de juiste maatregelen kan een verdere stijging van de personeelskosten worden voorkomen.
vs
Als u de juiste maatregelen neemt, voorkomt u dat de personeelskosten verder stijgen.

This second sentence sounds far more accusing and paternalistic than the previous one with the "u" in it. As in: YOU ARE GUILTY!! Why not:

Als de juiste maatregelen genomen worden, stijgen de personeelskosten niet verder.

In fact it is just as short and clear, actually even shorter.

Oooh, I see, my bad: it contains a passive voice. :D

But here as well: there are reasons why Dutch has a rich variety of verbal nouns and nouns of action. There are no reasons at all not to use them. Trying to write succinctly and cogently has nothing to do with curtailing the grammar of a language.




Re: Dumbing down Dutch?

Posted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:05 am
by palikala
ngonyama wrote:
This second sentence sounds far more accusing and paternalistic than the previous one with the "u" in it. As in: YOU ARE GUILTY!! Why not:

Als de juiste maatregelen genomen worden, stijgen de personeelskosten niet verder.

In fact it is just as short and clear, actually even shorter.

Oooh, I see, my bad: it contains a passive voice. :D

But here as well: there are reasons why Dutch has a rich variety of verbal nouns and nouns of action. There are no reasons at all not to use them. Trying to write succinctly and cogently has nothing to do with curtailing the grammar of a language.



That example was taken from a book. And yes! It does sound very patronizing, thats also why I really did not like the example they provided. I would rather use passive voice than a patronizing voice such as that one.

Re: Dumbing down Dutch?

Posted: Thu Jul 14, 2016 1:18 am
by estarling
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