Christ Loses Capital in Dutch

An official multinational body has decreed that the surname of Jesus Christ should be written without a capital as from August 2006. That is, if you are using the Dutch language. Though today Dutch-speakers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Surinam write "Christus", next year they will have to change their habits and write "christus".

The change is part of a new spelling norm, to be published in a new edition of the so-called "Green Booklet". Previous spelling reforms date from 1946 and 1996.

Another novelty is that the word for Jew will be written without a capital ("jood") when designating the member of a religion, and with a capital ("Jood") when designating the member of a people. Not all jews are Jews, but not all Jews are jews either.

Apart from "Christus", terms like "Renaissance" and "Middle Ages" will also lose their capitals. But other words will acquire capitals. An Aztec is now an 'azteek' in Dutch, but he will become an 'Azteek' next year, just as an 'eskimo' will become an 'Eskimo'.

Many people in the Netherlands and Belgium are fed up with this second modification to the spelling in less than 10 years. According to some the changes are only intended to increase the sale of school books (which will all have to be reprinted) and dictionaries in what is normally a limited market.

However, I fully welcome at least one change: electronic mail will be written as 'e-mail' again, instead of 'email'. That is good, because the Dutch word 'email' (as in French) also means 'enamel'.

The Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Union) is the official multinational organism which establishes guidelines for the Dutch language as it is used in the Netherlands, Belgian Flanders and Surinam. The Dutch as it is spoken in Belgium is often called "Flemish", but it is as much Dutch as American English is English. Surinam became a member of The Nederlandse Taalunie only last year. One consequence of its membership is that the Dutch word for elbow, "elleboog", will now get a synonym: "handknie" (literally "handknee").





This makes sense because contrary to the post "the surname of Jesus Christ" is not correct. Christ is a title not a surname.


Nicolas Raemdonck


This is no attack.




We will have to make sure we change our spelling to "dutch" without the cap. "D". It is an attack on religion, there is no other logical reason to change it to lower case.




e-mail in 'you send e-mail' is a direct object, not a verb. besides, you don't pronounce 'centre' exactly the way it's written; the americans simply made it more phonetic. if it sounds like a z, why not write one? when an american says theorize, he doesn't say theorise.


Mike Reys



you'll find that it would have helped a bit. The only place in the US where I have seen 'centre' spelled correctly was near the Heere in NY (and it has been there for centuries). And there are a lot more word with many spellings now in English... never seen more z's in a language as in the American variant of English.

And not only spelling, it goes a lot further: leverage has become a verb, likewise e-mail (you send e-mail, don't e-mail)...

I agree that 'protecting' your language like the "Académie" might not be ideal, but English is becoming a language 'evolving' at different speeds!




1. don't tell us the spelling of the English language is in a better shape because there is no official deliberative body. It isn't, the spelling of English is a mess and it's evolving in the direction of Chinese, a language which has to do without any relationship at all between the visual representation of words and what they mean and sound like.
2. I'd like to hear about the principle you invoke to state regulating spelling by official bodies is ridiculous. What is it, this principle?




I think that the Nederlandse Tuulanie doesn't have enough to do. I'm sure that it will come as a big surprise to a lot of jews that they aren't Jews. And Christ isn't a surname but a title. The significance of that change seems to be pretty much lost on the secular culture of Europe but is well understood by people who know what "Christ" means. And there are many people outside of the Christian community that do. It's just another way of restating, reemphasizing, and reinforcing the non-divinity of Jesus and the low status of Christianity generally.

As a matter of principle, all this business of regulating spelling by way of an official deliberative body is ridiculous anyway.




Net even gekeken op het groene boekje online: , en nu kan ik er helemaal niet meer aan uit. Enkele voorbeelden:

chris·tus, (beeld), de[m.], chris·tus·sen
Chris·tus·beeld, het, Chris·tus·beel·den
chris·tus·doorn, de[m.], chris·tus·doorns,(dat er overigens 2 keer blijkt in te staan)
Chris·tus·fi·guur, de

Waar zit de consequentie?? Staat er in de kerk nu een beeld van Jezus Christus, jezus christus, Jezus christus, of een Christusbeeld? Waarom draagt dat Christusbeeld christusdoorns en geen Christusdoorns?
Het is trouwens ook "Jezusbeeld" en "jezusfreak", en voor "doorn" bestaat het meervoud "doornen" of "doorns", maar voor christusdoorn kennen ze blijkbaar alleen het meervoud "doorns". En Christusfiguur blijkt geen meervoud te hebben.

Overigens, "Eskimo" is met een hoofdletter omdat het afgeleid is van een specifiek volk. Het woord "indiaan" daarentegen is met een kleine letter omdat het een overkoepelende term is voor etnische groepen. Inderdaad, onder de indianen zijn er verschillende stammen, zoals de Sioux. Bij de Taalunie echter heeft men blijkbaar nog nooit gehoord van de Inuit of de Aleoeten, om maar 2 voorbeelden te noemen van stammen van e/Eskimo's. Om maar te zeggen dat er net zomin een "eskimovolk" als er een "indianenvolk" zou bestaan.




I cannot get used to ruggengraat en pannenkoek. In my eyes, a ruggengraat is a graat with a lot of ruggen attached to it. rugge is a genitive form and ruggegraat means graat van de rug. idem with pannekoek.




@Luc: mijn reactie op Brusselsjournal is blijkbaar ergens verloren gegaan, maar ik wou je enkel wijzen op het bijzonder leuke boekje "Heb ik iets verkeerd gezegd? - Enige wenken voor (in)correct doen en denken" van Jan Kuitenbrouwer (Prometheus, 1998), waarin je alles leert over 'allochtonen' (wat -in het Nederlands althans- in origine een geologische term schijnt te zijn).




@ikuspuntu: read my reply on https://www.brusselsjournal....




I think you're wrong.
'Christus' remains with a capital when reffering to the person; you will only have to write it without a capital when reffering to a statue (of Christ): 'een christus(beeld)'.




Off course Luc. I only referred to some comments on the Brussels journal about your recent post, about the public radio.




@Nickonomics: But of course, some people may find this worrying.




Sorry Nickonomics, but I did not write that I find this worrying, nor that it is an attack against a religion.




Sorry Luc, but I do not find this very worying. This is not a attack against any religion.

If you want to write Christ with a capital letter, go ahead. I will do it.