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Last Updated: Monday, 1 January 2007, 04:21 GMT
Double Dutch in language twister
By Geraldine Coughlan
BBC News, The Hague

Blowverbodborden make attractive souvenirs for tourists
An ongoing battle over language in The Netherlands is being fuelled by the country's New Year's word list.

The Little Green Book, or Het Groene Boekje, the official Dutch spelling guide, was published this year.

But it is being boycotted by public broadcasters, who say it is too silly for words.

Instead, the Dutch media has published its own Little White Book with a list of new words that they want to add to the Dutch language, unofficially.

The Het Witte Boekje will soon embrace the new words of 2007.

It is mostly the big newspapers who come up with new words, like - "blowverbodbord" - a notice stating that it is illegal to consume soft drugs in the immediate area.

The street sign shows a large lit joint in a red warning circle.

Double Dutch?

It is put up by Amsterdam city council in places where it is officially forbidden to smoke cannabis in public.

An Amsterdam canal
Dutch has a reputation for being a difficult language

Collectors around the world buy "blowverbodborden" for $100 (51, 75 euros) a piece.

Another new word is "handweigeraar" - or hand refuser, coined after an imam refused to shake hands with the right-wing former Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk.

Such new words are creeping into the Little White Book.

With its alternative spellings and spelling rules, it is the media's way of boycotting The Little Green Book.

As the official Dutch spelling guide, government, schools and the Dutch news agency ANP have to abide by Het Groene Boekje.

But the press and broadcasters are sticking to the rules in their own Little White Book.

Faced with two sets of spelling rules, many in the Netherlands say they are not surprised their native tongue is referred to as double Dutch.




Compiled by BBC Monitoring

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