English Influence Boosting Dutch

The latest update of the Dutch Van Dale dictionary demonstrates just how strong the influence of English has become across the Netherlands.

Last year, Wordability reported on how the popular messaging app WhatsApp had been recognised in the dictionary by getting its own verb. Twelve months on, the new list is redolent with words of an English bent.

So step forward 3D-Printer and Gamechangers, Factchecken and Pinpointen. I also like the word GeluksMachine, meaning Happiness Machine and coined by the country’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Clearly you wouldn’t be a geluksmachine if you were involved in Sukkelsex, defined as sex which is not focused on delivering top performance. I’m not sure I can think of an English equivalent of that. Maybe it is not something that is a problem over here.

It’s actually interesting to note just how many English-inspired words are getting into an increasingly wide variety of international dictionaries. Reports suggest that the Royal Spanish Academy will be adding Goglear, Tuitear and Guasapear, translated as Google, Tweet and WhatsApp, to the Spanish dictionary.

It has to be hoped that languages will continue to maintain their own identities as the world gets more global and technology terms in particular become more widespread and international. While it is far too soon to worry about the future of distinct languages, I wonder if we are witnessing the beginning of a very slow homogenisation.

Whatsapp With The Dutch?

The popular smartphone messaging app WhatsApp has inspired a new word in the Dutch dictionary. Whatsappen, a verb meaning to send an electronic message, will be included in the online Van Dalen dictionary from October.

I know that WhatsApp is very popular and is constantly at the top of the iTunes charts, but I must confess to being slightly surprised at its Dutch popularity. I have never come across anybody telling me they are using it, and I have certainly never heard anybody drop it into conversation in a generic Googling type way. So I suspect this may be a development in the Dutch language that we will not be seeing replicated in English any time soon. It has also been quite fun reading the Dutch coverage using Google instant traslation, as Whatsappen translates somewhat bizarrely as ‘What Juices’.

I also wonder whether other popular apps will start to find their way into the dictionary. After all, causing rampant carnage may sound less offensive if people simply say they were ‘Angry Birdsing’.