What the Dutch have against their queen and more royal news


After Queen Beatrix announced her abdication, the entire Dutch web was trying to find royal angles for their stories.

Phonology professor Marc van Oostendorp points out how un-Dutch the word for queen, koningin, is and how people subconsciously try to avoid pronouncing it the correct way, koa-ning-in. According to Van Oostendorp, the ng-sound is never followed by a stressed syllable in Dutch. Words like tango and bingo (borrowed from Spanish and American English respectively) are pronounced tang-go and bing-go.

That leaves the female form of koning in an awkward position. The word for a female role is often produced by taking the male or generic form and adding ‘-in’ to it—Van Oostendorp gives boerin (farmer) and bazin (boss) as examples. But with koning+in this leads to a problem, because the combination is un-Dutch. The result is that we, the rabble, sharpen our linguistic pitchforks and guillotines and cut the title of one of our most beloved figures to ribbons. The word becomes koa-ni-xin or even koa-ni-gin (x is like the ch in loch, but voiced).

Things could be worse. When Napoleon Bonaparte made his brother Louis king of a conquered Netherlands, the new king tried to speak Dutch, but he wasn’t (yet) very good at it. The story goes that he accidentally called himself Konijn van ‘olland, rabbit of Holland.

Did you know that when Willem-Alexander becomes king, he will not be crowned? This is because crowning symbolizes a divine right to rule, whereas in the Netherlands, the people confer that right, which makes sense because we built this land, not the gods. To be honest I did not know this either.

According to NRC, this tradition has religious roots. It was the Protestants that protested a coronation, as they considered it too Catholic. The article further lists the following titbits:

  • The abdication will take place at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, the inauguration at the New Church (1600, next door).
  • Princess Máxima’s family will not be present (her father was a member of the Argentinian junta in the 1970s-1980s).
  • Titles: King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima, Princess of Orange Amalia Beatrix.
  • Fresh euro coins and stamps will have Willem-Alexander’s portrait on them (the old ones will still be valid). The names of naval vessels will be prefixed ZM instead of HM (Zijne Majesteit).
  • The King and Queen will move to one of palaces in The Hague, Huis ten Bosch. Currently Queen Beatrix lives there; she will move back to her old bachelor pad Castle Drakensteyn (‘dragonstone’) between Utrecht, Hilversum and Amersfoort—a house she bought when she was young.
  • The children of Princes Magriet and Prince Constantijn will no longer be members of the royal family after 30 April. The paper has a handy infographic explaining the line of succession.

Trendbeheer reports that Ad van Hassel has already made a state portrait of the future king. “Since Van Hassel did not have a suitable photo of the prince, he went to Madam Tussaud’s to use the wax statue of the prince as a model.” Filed under ‘the alternative circuit’.

Bright writes that there has been a rush on royal domain names. Last Monday twice as many domain names than usual were registered. Koningsdag2013.nl up to koningsdag2030.nl have all been registered. The RVD (Netherlands Government Information Service) can try and expropriate domain names through the courts if the names are likely to confuse visitors about who is behind a site.

(Photo by FaceMePLS, some rights reserved)

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