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Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch language Union)

In the context of the development of a Dutch standard language, the Nederlandse Taalunie (@link) plays in important role [Multilingual website of the Nederlandse Taalunie or Language Union, which promotes the cooperation between The Netherlands, Belgium and Surinam on issues such as language policy, teaching, literature etc. The site offers interesting information on Dutch language, spelling, literature etc]. Though the Language Union is involved in many initiatives, it is especially known for its supporting role in the description and codification of standard Dutch: it commissioned and helped finance such initiatives as the Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunst, the Woordenboek der Nederlandsche taal, the Uitspraakwoordenboek en de Woordenlijst (Groene boekje). It also strongly promotes Dutch Studies abroad and awards the Certificate of Dutch as a Foreign Language to non-native speakers.

How did this Language Union come about? A few years ago, the Dutch and Belgian governments recognized the fact that the Dutch and Flemish use the same standard language. This state of affairs had been the result of a long historical process, as explained in the previous sections. Consequently, they signed the Dutch Language Union Treaty (Nederlandse Taalunieverdrag) (@link) [Electronic text version of the Dutch Language Union Treaty (in Dutch) at the site of the Language Union] on 9 September 1980. This treaty is legally binding and emphasizes the joint responsibility of both countries for the development of Dutch. This means for instance, that the Netherlands cannot implement spelling changes without the official agreement of Flanders, and vice versa.

With the relevant Ministers of Education and Culture of both countries sitting on its committee, the Language Union promotes the knowledge of the language and campaigns for its proper use. It also supports literature written in Dutch and has commissioned a comprehensive literary history of the Low Countries. This reference work, which will number seven volumes in all, will be completed by 2006.

The Dutch Language Union is not only active in the Netherlands and Flanders, but also in the Dutch-speaking countries overseas. These include Surinam and the Dutch Antilles. Because of its historical links to the Netherlands, Indonesia too, with its many Dutch-language archives, represents an area of special interest for the Dutch Language Union. Likewise, Afrikaans and its relation to Dutch is actively supported.

The challenges which the Dutch Language Union is facing in the twenty-first century are considerable. With the impending enlargement of the European Union, the pressure on the lesser spoken languages within Europe will become more and more intense. With the Nederlandse Taalunie as their mouthpiece, Flanders and the Netherlands will be able to speak with one voice.

Question 17:

In what way has the Dutçch Language Union affected the development of standard Dutch? Check your answer (>link)

Question 18:

What would be the effects of globalisation on a language like Dutch? Check your answer (>link)


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