The recent history of Dutch orthography (II). Problems solved and created by the 2005 reform



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Changes in 2005


In 2005, most of the areas changed in 1995 were again slightly changed, and new rules were introduced for the use of capital letters and spaces. In what follows, we present an overview of these changes. Comprehensive lists of spelling rules can be found in Permentier 2005 (a list of 230 spelling rules) and De Schryver & Neijt 2005:323-333 (a list of 200 unchanged rules and 90 added or changed ones).
    1. The spelling of the linking element e(n) in compounds


In 1995, a complicated set of rules was introduced governing the spelling of linking elements in compounds, which was slightly amended in 2005:



1995 (GB 1995:25-26)

2005 (GB 2005:60-66)


Main rule

Write n when the first part of the compound is a noun that exclusively takes (e)n to form a plural (bessensap ‘currant-juice’, boerendochter ‘farmer’s daughter’).

Elsewhere no n.



Main rule

We write the linking sound as en when the left part of the compound is a noun that has a plural in –en, but not a plural in –es.


Elsewhere, we write e.
Remark about plurals in –es: Intended are words that end in a toneless /ә/ and take plural –s.


Exceptions:

  1. the first part refers to a person or object that is unique in the given context: Koninginnedag ‘queen’s day’, zonneschijn ‘sunshine’, Onze-Lieve-Vrouwetoren ‘Our Lady’s Tower’




  1. the first part has an intensifying meaning and the compound is an adjective: beregoed, bear+e+good ‘very good’




  1. fauna-flora exception:

words composed of an animal name and a plant name: paardebloem, horse+e+flower ‘dandelion’


  1. idiosyncratic compounds with a body part as first member: kinnebak, chin+e+tray ‘jaw-bone’




  1. one of the parts is not recognizable as a separate word in its original meaning: bolleboos round+e+angry ‘clever clogs, bright person’

Exceptions:

  1. idem, but restricted to compounds with (Onze-)Lieve-Vrouw, or (onze)lievevrouw ‘Our Lady’, zon ‘sun’, maan ‘moon’ and hel ‘hell’. Also Koninginnedag, Koningin­ne­feest ‘queen’s holiday’ and konin­gin­ne­nacht ‘queen’s night’. Other compounds with koningin follow the main rule: koninginnenpage ‘swallowtail’.




  1. idem, but more examples mention­ed for clarification


  1. deleted



  1. a more general formulation: ‘idio­syncratic or apparent compounds’: bolleboos, kinnebak 8




  1. merged with IV



  1. We never write en in derivations except in some cases before the suffixes achtig, –schap and –dom: vorstelijk ‘royal’, vorstendom ‘kingdom’. (This new formulation changed ideeënloos → ideeëloos ‘without ideas’, cf. below.)

Observe that the rephrased main rule explicitly mentions plurals in –es (incorrectly, the plural suffix is not –es but –s. The form –es occurs only in exceptional loan words such as rector – rectores). Thus, it shows more readily why the rule is so difficult to understand: in order to decide on writing an n or not, one has to take into account a possible plural in s. This aspect of the rule was formerly only implicitly present in the word exclusively9.

A real change is the abolishment of the fauna-flora rule. This means that paardebloem should be written with en, as paardenbloem, in line with corresponding compounds such as paardenarts ‘horse doctor’ and paardenbeen ‘horse’s leg’. The remaining exceptions have not been abolished and still lead to different spellings of the same compound member: koninginnenpage versus Koninginnedag (exception I), berenhol bear’s den’ versus beregoed (exception II), and bollenveld ‘bulb field’ versus bolleboos (exception IV).

Another change is the reinterpretation of the affix –loosless’. Combinations with –loos used to be treated as compounds, which is supported by the fact that loos also occurs in isolation, as in loos alarm ‘false alarm’ and veel noten zijn loos ‘many nuts are empty’. This concurs with the fact that loos belongs to the group of semi-suffixes that are written with –en such as –arm (soortenarm ‘species-poor’), –rijk (soortenrijk ‘species-rich’), and –vrij (schuldenvrij ‘debt free’). See Klein (2005) for a more detailed discussion of the spelling of this suffix. The real issue here concerns homography. The word grenzeloos usually means ‘extremely’, but its literal meaning is ‘without borders’, cf. een grenzeloos vertrouwen ‘blind faith’ and een grenzeloos Europa ‘a Europe without borders’. Those who are consciously aware of the distinction may be inclined to avoid homography. The principled issue behind it is whether or not orthography should discriminate between literal and figurative use of words.10

Finally, there are some changes in individual words (not mentioned in the overview above), on the grounds of revised judgments on plural forms or idiosyncrasy. Hence gazellenoog ‘gazelle’s eye’ → gazelleoog (plural gazellen and gazelles), giraffehals ‘giraffe’s neck’ → giraffenhals (giraf has only plural giraffen), paddestoel ‘toad’s stool, mushroom’ → paddenstoel (no longer considered idiosyncratic), dronkelap ‘drunkard’ → dronkenlap (–en is part of the adjective dronken ‘drunk’).

    1. The spelling of loan words


Traditionally, loan words are divided into hybrids and foreign words (Te Winkel 1865:175). Hybrids are words of foreign origins that have (partly) adapted to Dutch phonology and morphology, whereas foreign words are not. Spelling changes in Dutch generally affected hybrid words only. In foreign words, only minor changes occurred such as deletion of accents or changes that are needed to create proper spellings of inflected forms. The glossary of the Green Booklet of 2005 no longer refers to hybrid words (GB 2005:1045, 1049). Moreover, a word such as kasteel ‘castle’ is considered a native word, against standard practice (Te Winkel 1865:203, Van Heuven, Neijt & Hijzelendoorn 1995, Nunn 1998).

The changes to the spelling of hybrid words in 2005 are modest compared to those of 1995. (Recall that large numbers of words had two approved variants until 1995, when for each of those words one variant was given standard status to the exclusion of the other.) Significantly, the guide of the Green Booklet of 2005 no longer contains a chapter devoted to the spelling of hybrid words. The spelling of native and hybrid words is described simultaneously, sound by sound. For instance the spelling of the sound /i/ is illustrated with hybrid words such as kwestie ‘issue’, actief ‘active’, gitaar ‘guitar’ as well as native words such die ‘that’, lief ‘sweet’ and spiegel ‘mirror’ (GB 2005:21). This approach obscures the generalizations within native words and within hybrid words that form the foundation of Dutch orthography, cf. Nunn & Neijt 1997, and Nunn 1998:81-88.11

In the case of consonants, some “rules of thumb” are given, e.g.


  • We write c in -act, -actie, -actief, -ca, -caresse, -caris, -caster, -cateur, -catie, -cator, -catrice, -cus, -ect, -ectie, -ectief, -ica, -icus, -scoop, -uct or -uctie.

  • We write c word-initially in the non-native elements co-, col-, com-, con-, contra-, cor- and mostly in cata-, cate-, crypt-, crypto-, loco-, macro-, micro-, necro-, oct-.

  • We write k in elek- in words that are related to elektriciteit ‘electricity’.

(GB 2005:25-26)

Such generalizations were absent in the dictionary of 1995. They are reminiscent of the more systematic approach to hybrid words proposed by the spelling committee in 1994 (Spellingrapport 1994:35-83).

Incidental changes in the choice of letters are those in (1), cf. [Overzicht 2005]:




1995

2005

gloss

a

fabrikaat

fabricaat

manufacture




predikaat, predicatie

predicaat, predicatie

predicate, sermon




koloriet

coloriet

colouring




diskman

discman

disc man




Kongolees

Congolees

Congolese

b

Corinthisch

Korinthisch

Corinthian




klavarscribomethode

klavarskribomethode

name of musical notation

In (1a) k is changed into c; in (1b) c is changed into k. These choices remain without justification. Overall consistency has not been achieved by these changes, as shown by related forms. The inconsistent sets are now fabricaat fabriek fabrikant ‘manufacture, factory, manufacturer’, and predicaat predicatieprediken predikant ‘predicate, sermon, to preach, preacher’.

Some changes have been introduced with respect to accents in loan words. The new rules are as follows:


  • French words lose their accents when these words are commonly used. Accents on the e remain only if they are crucial to encoding the correct pronunciation.

  • All accents remain when a word, and particularly a word group, is still considered French.

(GB 2005:30)

Some examples are given in (2):






1995

2005

gloss

a

procé

proce

process




revérence

reverence

curtsy




appèl

appel

appeal

b

apropos

à propos

to the point




reüssiet

réussite

success

The examples in (2a) lose their accents. Procedé only keeps the final one to prevent the e from being pronounced as a schwa. In the case of appèl the accent is crucial to distinguish it from the native word appel ‘apple’, but the accent has probably been stricken since it does not occur in the original French word. In other words, the original spelling in the donor language plays a role in the current reform of Dutch, even though the word has been introduced long ago. This strategy implies that the spelling of Dutch words might change when the spelling of the donor language changes.

The examples in (2b) show that an earlier dutchification is reversed in words and word groups that are not considered to be common usage at the moment. The spelling of some words and most word groups with French accents remains unchanged: maîtresse, déjà vu, gênant.

The guidelines on the use of hyphen and dieresis in contexts of vowel clashes are slightly changed. Vowel clash is ‘the confusion that may arise when two letters that normally denote one vowel or diphthong (e.g. aa or ui), have to be read separately (as a-a or u-i)’ (GB 2005:51). Both the dieresis and the hyphen signal a syllable boundary. A general guideline is that hyphens are used between words, and that diereses are used within words, as in na-apen ‘to mimic’ (lit. ‘to after-ape’) versus Kanaän ‘Kanaan, the biblical name’. Understandably, the dieresis is abolished in the prefix aero­- whereencodes one syllable, e.g. aërodynamica → aerodynamica. A new rule regulates diereses after neoclassical prefixes:



  • A derivation with a prefix of Greek or Latin origin is treated as a compound. The prefix is glued to its base. In case of vowel clashes, the derivation receives a hyphen as linking element.

(GB 2005:53)

This rule affects words like reïntegratiere-integratie, coëxistentieco-existentie and deëscalerende-escaleren. There are, however, exceptions:



  • A word in which a non-native prefix cannot be separated from the base word is treated as underived and the vowel clash is solved by dieresis.

(GB 2005:54)

This rule applies to words such as coëfficiënt ‘coefficient’ and coördinatie ‘coordination’, which are not transparently related to efficiënt ‘efficient’ and ordinatie, a word that is not mentioned in the spelling dictionary.

Some inflected forms of hybrid words have also been changed (GB 2005:93-94), for instance the diminutives of the French words diner, souvenir and depot, and the female agent noun derived from skiën ‘to ski’:




1995

2005

base and gloss

a

dineetje

dinertje

diner ‘supper’




souveniertje

souvenirtje

souvenir ‘souvenir’




depootje

depotje

depot ‘depot’

b

skister

skiester

ski ‘female skier’

c

omaatje

omaatje

oma ‘grandma’




cafeetje

cafeetje

café ‘pub’




taxietje

taxietje

taxi ‘taxi’

The spelling of the examples in (3a) used to be adapted in order to agree more with their pronunciation. In souvenir, the i represents a long vowel rather than the short one that is usual in closed syllables. In diner and depot the final vowel is also long and the consonant is silent.12 In the 2005 spelling the stem remains unchanged by the addition of the diminutive suffix. Thus words such as diner are written the same way whether they contain a suffix or not.

The new spelling does not work out well in the case of hyphenated forms such as depotje: the form depot-je suggests the pronunciation [depojə] instead of [depocə]. Before 1995, the hyphenated form was depot-tje which does more justice to the pronunciation.

In the case of skiester the change is in the opposite direction: the old spelling ensured a consistent spelling of the stem, the new spelling does more justice to the pronunciation with a long vowel. The contrast between (3a) and (3b) illustrates that the recent spelling reforms do not aim at a spelling in which either the proper representation of the pronunciation or a constant spelling of morphological paradigms prevails. In 1954, the spelling of diminutives followed pronunciation.13 It still does in cases such as (3c).

Finally, apostrophes are no longer considered necessary for inflected and derived forms of acronyms which are pronounced as one word (so-called letterwoorden ‘letter words’): havo’erhavoër [havowər] ‘pupil of the havo, hoger algemeen vormend onderwijs, a type of school’. Instead, these words follow the rules for common words (a dieresis for digraph avoidance). An apostrophe is only used with acronyms which are pronounced letter by letter (so-called initiaalwoorden ‘initial words’): vwo’er [vewejowər] ‘pupil of the vwo, voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs, another type of school’, and with acronyms which are written with a capital: FAQ’jes,14 Benelux'je (GB 2005:94, 116).

The verbal inflection of foreign words has been changed as well. Formerly, the spelling of a verb derived from a noun which ends in a silent e depended on its pronunciation (GB 1995:41). The e was only considered a part of the stem if it was needed to ensure the correct pronunciation: leasde versus breakdancete (breakdancte without the e suggests that the c is pronounced as [k] instead of [s]). The new spelling rules, however, refer to the English orthography:



  • The stem of a verb of English origin is written the same way as in English. That form is used as the stem of a native verb.

(GB 2005:81)15

This rule means that the stem of an English loan verb like leasen is considered to be lease, even though verb stems ending in a silent e are alien to Dutch. As a consequence, that silent e is retained in inflected forms: leasen − leasete, leasede − geleaset, geleased. Since no similar rule is given for French words, their stems are identified exactly like those of native words, namely by removing the ending –en from the infinitive. Thus, the stem of fonduen is fondu, not fondue.

The results are differences between the spelling of French and English verb forms like those in (4).




noun

verb 1995

verb 2005

gloss

French

fondue

‘fondue’



fonduen

ik fondue

fonduede

gefondued

fonduen

ik fondu

fondude

gefonduud

‘to fondue’

‘I fondue’

past tense

past participle



English

barbecue

‘barbecue’





barbecuen16

ik barbecue

barbecuede

gebarbecued

barbecueën

ik barbecue

barbecuede

gebarbecued

‘to barbecue’

‘I barbecue’

past tense

past participle



French

douche

‘shower’


douchen

ik douche

douchte

gedoucht

douchen

ik douch

douchte

gedoucht

‘to shower’

‘I shower’

past tense

past participle



English

bridge

‘bridge’


bridgen

ik bridge

bridgede

gebridged

bridgen

ik bridge

bridgede, -ete

gebridged, -et

‘to play bridge’

‘I play bridge’

past tense

past participle



No reason is given for the different treatment of English and French words. Moreover, this two-way approach misses the relevant point, which is the necessity of mute e for the grapheme-phoneme connection. Until 2005, the first person singular of the verb douchen ‘to shower’ was exceptionally spelled (ik) douche, because douch suggests the incorrect pronunciation [dux]. This is the only instance in the Dutch language where word-final ch after a vowel denotes [sj].  This case and similar ones have nothing to do with a word’s provenance. For instance, the verb mimen is derived from pantomime which has Greek roots. It presumably entered Dutch via French, not English. It seems appropriate, nevertheless, to treat it as an English word, for only then do we get ik mime ‘I mime’, and not mim which incorrectly suggests a lax vowel. In sum, the fine-grained new approach does not answer the core question of how to write inflected forms of stems with an irregular spelling. Te Winkel’s approach was to dutchify the final syllable of stems, in order to prevent such problems.


    1. The use of spaces and hyphens


The main rules for the use of spaces and hyphens are:


  • Write word groups as separate words (academisch ziekenhuis ‘academic hospital, university hospital’)

  • Write compounds and derivations as one word (tuinstoel ‘garden chair’, onaf ‘unfinished’)

  • Write special compounds and word groups with a hyphen (pianiste-componiste ‘female pianist and composer’)

(GB 2005:35)


The first two rules are mere reformulations of old ones, but the third is new. It is only vaguely characterized as ‘special’. The example provided suggests that it refers exclusively to copulative compounds (those with a coordinative relation between the constituent parts rather than the more usual specifier-head relation), but examples in (7) below suggest that there is more to it than just that.

A number of spelling changes lead to the insertion or deletion of spaces, as illustrated in (5):






1995

2005

gloss

a

honderdmiljoen

eenderde

honderd miljoen

een derde

one hundred million

a third


b

doodwanen

haringkaken

dood wanen

haring kaken

to presume dead

to gut herring



c

te voorschijn

ter zijde

tevoorschijn

terzijde

out in the open (as in come …)

aside


d

on line

all risk

bungee jumping

online

allrisk

bungeejumping

on line

all risks

bungee jumping


e

kortegolf

compactdisc

lowbudget

korte golf

compact disc

low budget

short-wave

compact disc

low budget


f

blue jeans

bluejeans

blue jeans

The changes in (5a) follow from the new rules for numerals:



  • We write a number as one word up to the number thousand. Duizend ‘thousand’ is followed by a space. The words miljoen ‘million’, miljard ‘milliard’, biljoen ‘billion’, etc. are written as separate words.

  • Fractions are written with a space.

(GB 2005:48-49)

Changes like those in (5b) and (5c) reflect a different assessment of the status of these word combinations. Those in (5b) are henceforth treated as word groups rather than compound verbs, whereas those in (5c), which were formerly considered to be word groups, apparently are now classed as compound-like elements or unanalysable phrases.17 The list in (5d) shows how frequently used English word groups and common English compounds must now be written without spaces, whereas English combinations with an adjective as left-hand member, as in (5e) are now generally considered to be a word group, although (5f) shows that not all instances of this kind are thus analysed.

Finally, a new rule for English words was introduced which does not lead to spelling changes since it applies to a class of words which is not present in the dictionary. Still, it is an interesting one: write English job names of three or more parts with spaces: public relations officer (GB 2005:80). Similar words in the dictionary which are not job names, or which contain a Dutch part, are written without spaces: publicrelationsbureau, publicrelationsmedewerker. Theoretically this rule could lead to contrasts such as public relations officer versus publicrelationsoffice.

New rules have been designed for the use of hyphens. Generally these rules tend to diminish the use of hyphens since they were felt to occur all too frequently as it was, cf. Van Maanen (2006). One hotly debated instance concerns the fact that hyphens no longer represent the unity of word groups in compounds, when capital letters can be taken to signal the connection between words that form a name, as in Tweede-Kamerlid → Tweede Kamerlid ‘Member of the House of Commons’, derived from Tweede Kamer ‘House of Commons’, and Rode-Kruispost → Rode Kruispost ‘Red Cross post’ derived from Rode Kruis ‘Red Cross’.

Table (6) lists some other examples culled from the Green Booklet of words which lose their hyphens (GB 2005:35-50):




1995

2005

gloss

a

koude-oorlogsdenken

langzaam-aan-actie

koudeoorlogsdenken

langzaamaanactie

cold war thinking

go-slow


b

aids­-afdeling

lat-relatie

petfles

aidsafdeling

latrelatie

petfles

AIDS department

LAT relationship

PET bottle


c

co-assistant

coauteur

prowesters

anti-westers

coassistent

coauteur

prowesters

antiwesters

intern

co-author

pro western

anti western



d

sociaal-geografisch

sociaal-geograaf

sociaalgeografisch

sociaal geograaf

human geography

human geographer



e

amateur-boxer

amateurboxer

amateur boxer

The examples in (6) illustrate word types which are no longer seen as “special compounds” which require the use of hyphens. They include compounds which contain embedded word groups like koude oorlog ‘cold war’, acronyms without capitals (aids, lat), words with Latinate prefixes (co-, pro-), compounds which are no longer considered to be coordinative since their order cannot be changed (GB 2005:38) and words with the adjunct amateur. Minor changes are the deletion of some hyphens which were borrowed from English: have-not (‘have nots’) → havenot; self-fulfilling prophecy (‘self-fulfilling prophecy’) → selffulfilling prophecy.

Note that the words in (6a-c) used to be written inconsistently, and that these inconsistencies are resolved by the new spelling. On the other hand, a new inconsistency is introduced between sociaalgeografisch and sociaal geograaf.

In a few cases like those in (7), the new rules add extra hyphens.






1995

2005

gloss

a

hink-stapsprong

ups and downs

hink-stap-sprong

ups-and-downs

hop, skip and jump

ups and downs






mond- en klauwzeer

mond-en-klauwzeer

foot-and-mouth disease

b

meesterkok

meester-kok

master chef

c

wijgevoel

wij-gevoel

‘we-feeling’: sense of togetherness

d

onhollands

medekamerlid
transalpijns

on-Hollands

mede-Kamerlid
trans-Alpijns

un-Dutch

fellow member of Parliament

transalpine








e

all in

all-in

all in

f

ad(-)hocbeslissing

haute(-)coutureshop

ad-hocbeslissing

haute-coutureshop

ad hoc decision

haute couture shop


In (7), hyphens are required from 2005 onwards because we are dealing with “word groups which denote one concept” (GB 2005:44), compounds with the special adjunct meester 18, compounds with cited word forms, compounds with capitalized forms, and English compounds with a preposition as their right-hand member19. Also, compounds specified by a foreign word group are written with a hyphen, whereas the hyphen was optional according to the former spelling dictionary.

Another change concerns the use of hyphens to avoid vowel clash. In 1995, only the combination i+i was singled out as an instance for which a hyphen is needed in compounds, though no dieresis is needed in non-compounds (the compound case is exemplified by anti-intellectueel ‘anti intellectual’, GB 1995:32 and rebutted by groeiimpuls ‘growing impulse’, GB 1995:352; examples of derived words are kopiist ‘one who copies’ and eeneiig ‘monovular, monozygotic’). The reformers of 2005 distinguish a new subtype of vowel clash (GB 2005:51): letter combinations that clash in compounds only. As such, they consider also combinations like i+j, e+ij and e+ui. Clash does occur, then, in compounds like gummi-jas ‘rubber coat’, vanille-ijs ‘vanilla ice cream’, college-uitstap ‘college trip’, but not in underived words or derivations like bijectie ‘bijection’, beijveren ‘advocate zealously’ and geuit ‘uttered’. Again, no reason is given for treating vowel clashes in compounds differently from vowel clashes elsewhere.

Table (8) illustrates the effects of the new rules with respect to the former standard of 1995.






1995

2005

gloss

a

groeiimpuls

groei-impuls

growing impulse

b

rij-instructeur

rijinstructeur

driving instructor

Strictly speaking, there is no need for either a hyphen or a dieresis for i+i because the letter sequence can only be read one way: in Dutch ii cannot denote one sound.20 It seems that a ‘mistake’ in 1995 led to a more complicated approach of the issue in 2005. This more complex presentation of vowel clashes could have been avoided, because the use of hyphens at word boundaries in compounds is optional. The writers could thus decide for themselves whether or not the hyphen is needed.

Finally, the dictionary shows that changes have also been made to hyphenation for typographical purposes. These changes are not mentioned in the guidelines of the Green Booklet, only in the unpublished Technische Handleiding ‘Technical Guide’, and they have been implemented in the list of entries. In the first place the combination sj is now considered to be inseparable; no hyphen may be inserted between the two letters (a dot indicates where the word may be hyphenated): koos.jer → koo.sjer ‘kosher’, and pas.ja → pa.sja ‘pasha’. This change violates the principled approach to degemination of letters in Dutch, according to which the form koo.sjer is ruled out, because geminate vowel letters are degeminated at the end of a syllable. Therefore, koo.sjer should be replaced by ko.sjer as shown by autootje – auto.tje. The form pa.sja suggests the incorrect pronunciation [a] in the first syllable.

Secondly, words such as roy.aal ‘royal’ may be hyphenated in two ways, corresponding with two possible pronunciations roy.aal for the original French pronunciation [rwɑjal] where oy denote [wɑ], and ro.yaal for the dutchified pronunciation [rojal]. The strategy of 1954 was based on morphology and letter sequences, the new one is also based on pronunciation.21



    1. The use of capital letters


The longest chapter of the new guidelines, good for nearly one fifth of the total length of the text, is devoted to the use of lower and upper case. Among other things, it introduces a new spelling principle, the so-called Donor Principle:
The Donor Principle

  • Respect the spelling of the donor language or the spelling chosen by the founder, designer or owner of an institution of brand.

(GB 2005:1044)


Applied generally, this principle would lead to the spelling London, København and Paris instead of the traditional forms Londen, Kopenhagen and Parijs. This presumably is not intended. The principle only seems to hold for the use of capitals and abbreviations, and it seems to apply only to titles of newspapers and magazines and the like (de Volkskrant; Het Parool; BN/de Stem; AD; KIJK) and organizations (BuZa ‘Foreign Affairs, Buitenlandse Zaken, PvdA ‘Labour Party, Partij van de Arbeid’). Note that the use of upper and lower case in such forms is often a matter of aesthetic preferences of the owners.22

The set of nine rules for the use of lower and upper case of 1995 has evolved into a set of 21, the core of which consists of three rules which distinguish between proper nouns (Shakespeare), common nouns (drama), derivations (shakespeareaans ‘Shakespearean’) and compounds (Shakespearedrama):




  • Proper names are written with a capital letter; common names are written in lower case.

  • Derivations of proper names are written in lower case.

  • Compounds with a proper name are written with a capital letter, but lower case is used when the person mentioned is not involved in the new concept.

(GB 2005:96-98)


The proviso “when the person mentioned is not involved in the new concept” is illustrated by examples such as Beatlesplaat - beatlehaar ‘record made by The Beatles’ versus ‘hair like The Beatles’, and Hitlerretoriek - molotovcocktail ‘the way Adolf Hitler spoke’ versus ‘petrol bomb, named after Sovjet minister Molotov’.

The general rules for derivations and compounds are new. The former dictionary contained only a general rule for personal names in compounds and derivations, which should not be written with capital letters, and a general rule for words derived from geographical names, which should be written with capital letters. This latter rule is present in the new guidelines as one of the additional or exceptional rule sets based on semantic or etymological classes of words. These are geographical names, languages, peoples, periods of time, holidays, religions or movements, organisations, brand names, titles, expressions of respect, names based on functions, holy names, and German words (GB 2005:95). In the former dictionary, the spellings of such classes were handled in only two pages.

The older prescriptions were vague or incomplete, and led to what one might consider inconsistencies, such as the ones in (9).




1995

2005

gloss

a

names in derivations

Victoriaans

orwelliaans


victoriaans

orwelliaans

Victorian

Orwellian





b

names of inventors in compounds

Lorentz-kracht

vanderwaalskrachten



lorentzkracht

vanderwaalskrachten

Lorentz force

Van der Waals forces





c

names in compounds with a weak link to the person

Salomonsoordeel oedipuscomplex


salomonsoordeel

oedipuscomplex

Solomon’s judgment,

Oedipus conflict





d

brand titles

elfstedentocht

oscar

Nobelprijs


Elfstedentocht

Oscar

Nobelprijs

Eleven cities tour

Oscar

Nobel Prize






e

periods of time

Ramadan

vastentijd


ramadan

vastentijd

Ramadan


Lent




f

historical events

boerenoorlog

anjerrevolutie

Contrareformatie


Boerenoorlog

Anjerrevolutie

Contrareformatie

Boer War

Portuguese revolution of 1974

Counter Reformation



g

organisations

veiligheids­raad

senaats­commissie

Tweede Kamer


Veiligheidsraad

Senaats­commissie

Tweede Kamer

Security Council

Senate Committee

Lower House



h

German nouns

Götterdämmerung

Übermensch

aha-erlebnis


götterdämmerung

übermensch

aha-erlebnis

Gotterdammerung

Uebermensch

aha-Erlebnis


The larger set of rules aims to prevent such inconsistencies. Over 300 words changed, one third in the direction of lower case, the others in the direction of upper case [Overzicht 2005]. A set of examples illustrating the complexity of the issue is given in (10):






1995

2005

gloss

a

official holidays

nieuwjaar


Nieuwjaar

New Year's Day






non-official holidays

Palmzondag


palmzondag

Palm Sunday



b

holy persons

kerstman

sinterklaas

boeddhabeeld


Kerstman

Sinterklaas/sinterklaas23

Boeddhabeeld

Father Christmas

St. Nicholas

Buddha statue






holy books

bijbel


Bijbel

bible (the text)









copy of holy book

bijbel


bijbel

bible (a copy of)






c

acronyms

BTW

pc

aids24


btw

pc

aids

VAT


pc

AIDS





exceptions because of Donor Principle

ADSL

GmbH

English loan

German loan






current governmental terms

WAO
AMvB

abbr. for law providing for disabled workers

abbr. for the equivalent of an Order in Council






illnesses

BSE

ME

English loan

English loan


Large sets of exceptions are formulated. For instance, one should not use capitals for names of people, objects and languages when the name is:






exceptional use of lower case for persons

gloss

a

based on religion

protestant

jood

Protestant

Jew


b

derogatory

aussie

jap

eskimo

Aussie

Jap


Eskimo ‘frigid person’

c

not based on place of the origin, but on the features of the object

neanderthaler

edammer

parmaham

alpenviooltje


Neanderthal

Edam cheese

Parma ham

Alpine Violet (actually a cyclamen)



d

a subjective way of mentioning a language

steenkolenengels

coal English (i.e. Dutchglish)

Note that these exceptions are motivated by subjective or subtle semantic distinctions, which may vary according to the context. Moreover, it is not clear which rule should take precedence in cases of conflict. For instance, derivations and compounds from geographical names retain their capital letters: een New Yorker ‘someone from New York’, het Plat-New Yorks ‘broad dialect spoken in New York’, but belgicisme ‘Belgianism’ follows the main rule for derivations, because the word does not refer to the place of origin, but to an –ism with the features of Belgium (GB 2005:101).





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