December 21, 2005

Spell simply and carry a big stick

Rob Malouf wrote to draw my attention to a cartoon, dated yesterday, expressing an apparently popular view of Dutch spelling reform.

The title translates as "Fokke and Sukke keep it simple", and as Fokke and Sukke walk away, one of them says to the other "So, was that a spelling-reformer or a spellingS-reformer?" Apparently the official distribution of linking -s- in compounds is one of the arbitrary things that have recently changed.

The response: "It's a dead one", where (I'm told) "dooie" is a non-standard spelling of "dode", representing a colloquial pronunciation.

Violent folk, those Dutch, at least when spelling is at issue.

[Update: Bruno van Wayenburg wrote:

Hah, keeping you quite busy, our spelling reform.

In this case, you could argue Fokke and Sukke's beef is about language, not only spelling, as the so called 'tussen-s' (between-s) in spellingShervormer *is* pronounced (although the meaning of both forms is the same), contrary to the tussen-n, which is involved in this spelling reform and which already generated much resistance when rules about it changed in 1995.

Fokke and Sukke, probably among the very few cartoon characters in major newspapers sporting genitals, have chameleon-like characters, and can get quite violent and crude, even when spelling is not at issue.

This sort of answers an earlier query on Language Log asking whether violent anger about spelling and language issues is an exclusively Anglosaxon issue. Dutch ducks and canaries are also affected.

Bruno is referring to this query, with a follow-up here.]

[Note that if the title of the comic makes you(r inner 7th grader) start to giggle, you're apparently not alone, but still misguided.]

Posted by Mark Liberman at December 21, 2005 05:50 PM