Waarom dromedarissen maar één 'm' hebben
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Dutch journal of applied linguistics. - Amsterdam, 2012, currens
, p. 265-271
University of Antwerp
This contribution focuses on the spelling of single consonants after a vowel without primary stress and therefore a short duration in polysyllabic Dutch words, e.g. kanaal (canal) and dromedaris (dromedary). The single consonant can be explained on the basis of the (Dutch-oriented) standard pronunciation with tense vowels like [a] or [o], but it can also be related to the (mostly Romance) etymology of the words. Only a few textbooks on Dutch spelling go into this matter. All of them are Flemish, possibly because Flemings pronounce and perceive vowels in open syllables without primary stress more frequently as lax (e.g., , ). For some words, however, the etymology is ignored and the spelling may have been adapted to the pronunciation, e.g. double after the first vowel of saffraan (< Fr. safran saffron) and single after in stationeren (< Fr. stationner to park). Although this explanation seems plausible, it raises new questions as well. For example, words like kaproen (= type of headwear), patroon (pattern) and Afrikaan (African) also have an -like pronunciation (similar to saffraan), but unlike saffraan these words do not have a double consonant. Interestingly, for words like stationeren that contain + [n] + full vowel the spelling appears to have changed since the end of the 19th century. De Vries and Te Winkel (1898) still wrote stationneeren (with ). To get more grip on our topic, a thorough study of the Dutch vocabulary is needed, since at the moment, it is unknown for which Dutch words the etymologically motivated spelling is replaced by a more phonetic one. This additional study will, for example, show which category is the most frequent one: the saffraan-type (where the consonant has been doubled) or the stationeren-type (where a double consonant has been replaced by a single one).