History of Dutch Orthography - The Spelling Reform of 2006 (The Netherlands and Flanders)

The Spelling Reform of 2006 (The Netherlands and Flanders)

In 1994 it was agreed that the vocabulary of het Groene Boekje should be revised every ten years without changing the actual rules. On 15 October 2005 the first of these revisions appeared. Only one rule concerning exceptions was made (the so-called Dandelion Rule): paardebloem (dandelion) and vliegezwam (fly agaric) became paardenbloem and vliegenzwam for consistency with other similar compounds, e.g. paardenstaart (horse-tail) and vliegenmepper (fly swatter). (Note that these 'n's are not normally pronounced.)

Apart from this there were a few individual changes. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Names of population groups are now spelt with a capital letter, even if there is no geographical area connected with the name: Kelt (Celt), Azteek (Aztec), and Eskimo (Inuit) are capitalized. Exceptions are made for names which cover a number of different ethnic groups: indiaan (North American Indian, First Nations) and zigeuner (Gypsy)
  • Jood/jood (Jew) is a special case. When talking about the Jewish religion it has a small initial letter, but it is capitalized if it refers to the Jewish people. Thus: joden, christenen en moslims (Jews, Christians, and Muslims); BUT: Joden, Amerikanen en Europeanen (Jews, Americans, and Europeans).
  • There are changes for new English compounds: online instead of on line, full colour instead of fullcolour.
  • A few rules for the hyphen have been changed: extreem-rechts (extreme right) is now spelt: extreemrechts, ikroman (novel written in first person) is now ik-roman and a few more.
  • A few compounds which had still not acquired the n now conform: paddenstoel (toadstool), dronkenman and dronkenlap (drunkard).

Although government and educational establishments are required to conform, some newspapers and other publications in the Netherlands are refusing to use the new spelling and have released Het Witte Boekje (The White Booklet) as an alternative to the latest edition of Het Groene Boekje. This "white spelling" allows more than one spelling in several cases, e.g. presence or absence of linking ns, hyphens and capitalisation. It has, in return, been accused of being even more inconsistent than Het Groene Boekje. In Flanders, the white spelling is not used by any large media.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Dutch Orthography

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