Sputnik: What could be the reason behind the phenomenon of English taking over Dutch universities?
Joost Niemoller: The whole atmosphere at universities is getting international, and I think it's fine when you talk about more scientific topics to speak in English. But it gets weird when you can also learn Dutch literature, for example, at university, and you have to do that in English. I think then that something is going totally in the wrong direction. The atmosphere at universities is getting more and more international-oriented, but, at the same time, you also see that at the same time there's no real connection with Dutch society anymore. So you see that what on one hand seems to be open-minded, is, on the other hand, more and more close-minded.
Sputnik: What is your view on English becoming so widely used by Dutch people?
Joost Niemoller: English is always around, it's easy. Young people in the Netherlands, like 4-year-olds, can speak English because it's on their computer games, for example. They speak better English than I did when I was fifteen. Okay, that's in itself not a bad thing. But it's a bad thing when.. language is part of culture, and you see that people are losing the grip on their own culture.
Sputnik: Do you believe that Dutch is losing its status of official language in the Netherlands?
Joost Niemoller: Yes, I think you can say that. I heard somebody say that in thirty or forty years, and maybe even sooner, Dutch will only be something like a family language that people use to speak with each other. The newspapers will be in English, television programmes will be in English, et cetera, et cetera.
You know you can compare Dutch people with the those with a status of Berbers in Morocco: they speak Berber language with each other, but they don't do it in school. In school, they have to speak Arabic. That's creating a new conflict because those people feel ‘we are losing our identity'. And it's not even English — we talk about English, but it's American, that's the difference. Young people in the Netherlands, they don't speak British English, they speak American English, and so it's the American culture taking over.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.