In the past year many good and interesting language books have been published. Books that I seriously shortchange by merely pointing them out here as potential gifts for the holidays, but it’s no different.
The language book published this week is immediately the most robust: Germanist Jelle Stegeman describes the Great History of the Dutch Language in two thick volumes (Amsterdam University Press, 1,282 pp., € 79). As late as 1930, the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant announced the demise of our language, but things turned out differently: today more than 24 million people speak Dutch. Beautiful biography of our language, accessiblely written and beautifully published.
Translating in the Netherlands is just as beautifully published. A Cultural History (Boom, 656 pp., €49.95). Several authors show how incredibly important translations have been for the shaping of our culture and society: from the Middle Ages to the present. Never before has the history of translation in the Netherlands and Flanders been explained so thoroughly.
In the lexicon Words of Color (De Nieuwe Vaart, 250 pages, € 24.60 incl. shipping), sociologist Buck Goudriaan charts one of the most sensitive language developments of the moment: racism and anti-racism in our vocabulary.
We find a happier subject in The funniest language mistakes in the classroom (Ploegsma, 160 pp., € 14.99) by ‘Master Mark’. Appnormal, iebietsaa, aaipet, oomijkot – delicious!
The corona pandemic is not only disrupting our society, but also causes an explosion of new words. Vivien Waszink and Veronique de Tier describe this in an entertaining and thorough manner in Knuffelcontact & Waterwappie (Scriptum, 174 p., € 14.99).
A surprising book I think Obsolete truth? Sense and nonsense of proverbs (In Boekvorm, 152 pp., € 20.00). Young scientists from various disciplines investigate the truth behind twenty well-known proverbs. Do gentle surgeons really make stinking wounds? Beautifully illustrated, with a foreword by Erik Scherder.
Fans of WF Hermans – born a hundred years ago this year – can indulge themselves with ‘There is only one real word.’ WF Hermans as language maker (De Weideblik, 104 pages, € 12.50) by Ton den Boon. Hermans was a stubborn language viewer with a great talent for coming up with catchy book titles. Winged were, among others, Out of countless millions, Among professors and The sadistic universe.
Also for lovers of Drs. P. it is a good language year: edited by Jaap Bakker, Het Wel en Wee by Drs. P. (Noblesse Publishers, 216 pp., € 25.99). Authors such as Wim Daniëls, Ivo de Wijs and Erik van Muiswinkel examine the creativity of this word artist. With several photos of Dr.
The queen of historical linguistics has long been Nicoline van der Sijs. This year she published two books: Finding and Making Language Laws (Sterck & De Vreese, 622 pp., € 39.95): a wonderful study on the origin of Standard Dutch. And, from the same publisher: What’s happening in Dutch?! (320 pp., € 24.95) a collection of contributions by sixty researchers from the Netherlands, Flanders and Suriname on language, frequency and variation.