Netherlands: white or green -- who decides?
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Sep 15, 2010

G'day everyone (and particularly cloggies)

This question is specifically for the Netherlands translators. Who decides whether to use white or green spelling... you or the client? How many of you can easily switch between the two types of spelling, if a client asks for a spelling that is different from the one that you normally use? How many of you have clients of both types (white clients and green clients), and how do you deal with it?

Looking forward to some replies
Samuel


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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:27
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Take your pick Sep 15, 2010

The discussion about this topic is still going on. At the end the differences between the two are not that big. The green book is the "official spelling" (with some strange spelling rules I might add), and the white book is the "unofficial spelling" (which is how it was before).

Who decides? Good question. YOU, I suppose!
If you are translating for official bodies, like government or EU, I would suggest to use the green spelling, in all other cases I would say: "Take your pick". Both are accepted, so I think it comes down wether or not you agree with the spelling or not.

Although I know wisdom has to be sought elswhere, I look at the number of hits on Google when in doubt. Majority wins!.


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:27
English to Dutch
+ ...
Green unless Sep 15, 2010

Since the green spelling is the official spelling, it must be used, unless the client specifically asks for something else. So far, I haven't encountered such a client.
I do have had clients who had specific wishes (style guides), but these had more to do with style than spelling. E.g., some clients want to keep a lot of English terms, whereas others want everything in real Dutch. Another example is the 'u hebt'/'u heeft' issue. Some clients have very definite ideas about what to use - and of course these are not always the same.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Robert and Jan Willem Sep 15, 2010

Robert Rietvelt wrote:
The discussion about this topic is still going on. At the end the differences between the two are not that big.


Well, I'm not interested in discussing the merits of each. _ _ I'm more interested in how translators deal with the fact that there are two types of spelling. White may be unofficial but it is reasonably widely used.

Jan Willem van Dormolen wrote:
Since the green spelling is the official spelling, it must be used, unless the client specifically asks for something else. So far, I haven't encountered such a client.


Would that be because most clients prefer the green spelling, or rather because most clients simply don't care?

Suppose there is a translator who feels passionate about the white spelling. How well would it fly if he puts a small-print note in his quotations saying "I use white spelling unless the client asks otherwise" and then proceeds to use white spelling in all his translations? If such a translator gets his text proofread by a green proofreader and gets grilled by the client for his spelling errors, how would it go down with the client (and the proofreader) if the translator then points to the quotation saying "Erm, you agreed to this, didn't you?" Or is it unlikely to happen that a client would make an issue about such things?


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:27
English to Dutch
+ ...
Passion vs reality Sep 15, 2010

Well, one can be passionate about a thing, but reality dictates that there are rules...
I might be passionate that armies are bad things, that no money should be spent on them, but I still have to pay my taxes, and if I refuse, I get into trouble.
The rule is the green spelling, so all passions/beliefs aside, that's what a translator has to use - unless the client asks otherwise.


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:27
English to Dutch
+ ...
convenience Sep 15, 2010


Jan Willem van Dormolen wrote:
Since the green spelling is the official spelling, it must be used, unless the client specifically asks for something else. So far, I haven't encountered such a client.


Would that be because most clients prefer the green spelling, or rather because most clients simply don't care?


Maybe not so much 'not care' as well as they don't feel strong enough about the issue to want to think what they want exactly.


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Wilmer Brouwer
Netherlands
Local time: 23:27
Member (2006)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Not an issue Sep 15, 2010

Samuel Murray wrote:
Suppose there is a translator who feels passionate about the white spelling. How well would it fly if he puts a small-print note in his quotations saying "I use white spelling unless the client asks otherwise" and then proceeds to use white spelling in all his translations? If such a translator gets his text proofread by a green proofreader and gets grilled by the client for his spelling errors, how would it go down with the client (and the proofreader) if the translator then points to the quotation saying "Erm, you agreed to this, didn't you?" Or is it unlikely to happen that a client would make an issue about such things?


This is not an issue at all. I think there may have been a few journalists a while ago, a newspaper and a publisher who thought white spelling was a nice idea. After that I haven't heard about it for years.
I have never had a customer who asks about this and assume most of them do not know or care. I do not think there are translators out there using the white spelling. If they would it could take years for anyone to see that they do as no one will know the difference.
Most customers are still trying to figure out if the second person singular is with a t or d and older customers are still struggling with their c and k spelling. Only a select few write words together as we do in Dutch officially. So while they are still busy thinking about that I think only linguists with too much time on their hands would bother about green and white spelling.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
For the wider audience Sep 15, 2010

Please guys, can you tell us what are these green and white books? I have Dutch customers and friends and would like to know about it. Thanks a lot in advance!

Edited to add this: I mean that I have Dutch customers for which I translate into Spanish, and never from Dutch. This is sheer curiosity!

[Edited at 2010-09-15 19:53 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
For a wider audience Sep 15, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
Please guys, can you tell us what are these green and white books?


1. http://www.google.com/search?q=white%20green%20spelling%20dutch
2. Second link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Booklet
3. Second paragraph: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Booklet

I did not say what white and green spelling is because I wanted to try to prevent the discussion veering off into that direction, in an attempt to keep the discussion on the question in my initial post.

I suppose a similar question could be asked of translators whose languages underwent contentious spelling reform recently -- which spelling version do you use for your translations... the official version or the most common/logical/loved version? Note that this is not an issue of regional variation (so the issue is not e.g. US vs UK spelling) but of variation within a single region.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks a lot! Sep 16, 2010

Samuel Murray wrote:
I did not say what white and green spelling is because I wanted to try to prevent the discussion veering off into that direction, in an attempt to keep the discussion on the question in my initial post.

Thanks a lot Samuel! I get the point.

Now, just a bystander's opinion: luckily we haven't had this problem in Spain. Our Real Academia Española has a non-political organisation and decides about language in a very independent manner. The chances to have radical (well, reading about the matter I am not sure the switch to the Green Book was very radical) change in our spelling rules are rather low.

Now, having said that, I think that --like or not-- Green is the way to go since it is the official form and because its rules are used in the Van Dale, for instance. A very relevant side question here is whether it is OK to have a political institution governing languages. I am happy our RAE is an independent institution!


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Maartje Giebels  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:27
English to Dutch
+ ...
No problems here Sep 16, 2010

I use the green spelling and have never had costumers complaining. Although once I had a costumer who sent me the revised translation and only then mentioned they use the white spelling. But it was no problem as they didn't tell me that before.

I think it would be very strange to always use the white spelling as the green one is the official one. So that using the white spelling would mean that actaully you are delivering a translation with "official" spelling mistakes.

I think it is not realy an issue anymore. It was when the new spelling was introduced, but now I don't think I ever hear anybody talk about it anymore.

Best,
Maartje


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:27
German to English
typical problem Sep 16, 2010

@ Samuel,
Oxford vs. -ise spelling in British English is a related problem. However, it seems somewhat more complicated because both spellings are clearly correct or incorrect for certain situations (academic texts vs. newspapers, for example) and a judgement call in other situations.

I assume that every dictionary in every language also includes alternative spellings ("judgement" is a good example) and established dictionaries sometimes disagree, but every good style guide insists on using the first spelling listed (except for specified exceptions) and ought to name a specific dictionary (although this is not always the case).

The situation with American, British, and other versions of English is, of course, different from languages with official institutions for language policy, but the same kinds of issues crop up within these countries and not just between them.

Personally, when it comes to grammar and spelling, I would rather have a slightly unsatisfying black-and-white answer than something more complicated and nuanced.

Sincerely,
Michael


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