Wednesday 23 February 2011

English doesn't always work*

The use of English in Dutch adverts only has a positive effect on those under the age of 30, and only then when the message can be readily understood. These are the conclusions arrived at in a Master's thesis written by Floortje Westerburgens who recently graduated from the University of Tilburg.

As part of her research, she presented 160 persons with adverts which used either a Dutch or English slogan. They were asked to assess the ads for their appeal, suitability and comprehensibility. The results of the survey would seem to be at odds with the trend of using more English in Dutch adverstisements. "Advertisers assume that the use of English makes the message more attractive and convincing", Westerburgen concludes. But that's only partly the case.

Neither does English in job advertisements always come up to the mark, another study shows. Last November, Frank van Meurs received a doctorate from the University of Nijmegen for his thesis in which he contended that English job descriptions in Dutch job ads don't necessarily raise the status of the position. However, when readers see an English job title in isolation, they seem to value the status of the job more highly. For example, they seem to think a 'maintenance engineer' earns more than an onderhoudstechnicus.

More info:
* Translation of article in Onze Taal, December 2010