My language comes first, as my rules are arbitrary


Coming from Canada, a country that questionably prides itself on having millions of people speak English and French functionally, it’s odd to see that there are still discussions (if we believe the media) about having Dutch and European children learn foreign languages at school at a young age. There’s Dutch, then English, French or German, sometimes Spanish, and there are kids who already speak Frisian, never mind kids who speak Dutch dialects at home. All the kids who speak more than one language or dialect are at an advantage in general. All of this assumes the traditional ‘Caucasian’ Dutch person learning a foreign language, and totally ignores any child with a foreign background.

Profession Paula Fikkert makes an interesting point, which proves my usual point that language and culture are inseparable. When the second language in question is English, Dutch parents think that’s fantastic, but if that second language is Dutch and the first language is, let’s say Turkish, then all of sudden Dutch speakers get defensive. She mentions that Dutch policy makers will then automatically tell you how important Dutch is, even though linguists can easily explain why knowing any good native language is important.

This is a kind of language apartheid: English is the best, Dutch second or best in the absence of English, and anything else is of lesser value, while none of this is scientifically correct. Ironically, Dutch is best all the time socially, except in the ivory towers of some of Amsterdam and Rotterdam’s international corporations where the main language is English and only the cleaning staff are not able to join in, although could do so in more than one language. I’m speaking from experience.

The article also goes on about how sign language is treated as even lower than the rest for Dutch babies, but taking clases to try and decipher your baby’s gesticulations are all the rage.

(Link: kennislink)

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