Partial Brexit Reverse:
UK and Holland to Establish
Linguistic Free Movement Area
R. Fer, N. Dumm
and L. Eve
In the light of the near immediate and nigh-on total economic collapse that the UK has suffered following its fateful decision to leave the EU, the skeleton government that remains, albeit barely functioning, has decided on an emergency measure to restimulate the UK economy through the common sense, straight-up and tried-and-tested approach of abandoning national sovereignty through borderlessness. However, let no one suggest that lessons have not been learnt from 40-plus years in the EU and its fore-runners: in lieu of a reinvigoration of the political unity that marked the last 40 years, the authorities are therefore trying a slightly different, yet quintessentially British, tack:1 linguistic borderlessness.
Britain woke2 today to the following press release from the Department of Linguistic Transnationalism (DoLT), broadcast on all networks, channels and Royal Mail delivery modalities: ‘Britons of Britain: with 78% of the population eating nothing but carrots and all roads in Kent3 effectively being used as car parks, there’s nothing else to do but reach out once more to our European neighbours for help. But, as we clearly can’t ask to rejoin the EU coz that’d be undemocratic and stuff, Mrs Windsor’s government has decided to start small—and linguistic. We shall reach out through language to our Dutch neighbours with whose mode of speech we share so much lexical, grammatical, and, wel, interactional particle joy and loveliness.’
The linguistic intuitiveness of this simple plan is so clean and clear that it is remarkable that it has not been thought of before. Dutch and English are, after all, dialects of one previously federal language or fedlect (Mobbles 2010), West Geramanicese which later split into Anglickish and Hollandaise. Frisian is somewhere in there, too, but no-one really knows where.
The contemporary reflections of this once widespread Germane fedlect are all over the shop: ‘The man had a house’ is only a micro-phone or two away from ‘De man had een huis’ (especially if your English speaker is chillin’ it with a dental stop not an interdental fricative); and ‘I think that my daughter and son were in that park there yesterday’ is only a 1.738 syntax salami slices away from the admittedly slinkier ‘Ik denk dat mijn dochter en zoon daar gisteren in dat park waren.’ This level of similarity where it all comes down to ‘dentalise your <th>-s and bang the subordinate clause verb at the end of said clause’ has inspired the UK government to push for a summer 2021 roll-out of its flagship ‘Do Dat Dutch Ding, Kinderen’ curriculum in all state schools.
After all, the argument goes, if the UK and Holland can merge in context of global oil companies which have brought peace, harmony and enlightenment to all peoples of the earth, with only tangential contributions to the minor catastrophic effects of climate change, there’s no reason why Nederlands and Engels can’t re-merge as one, with all the obvious benefits that would entail.
In any case, the British have a long-standing tradition of loving other people’s languages. It’s almost unheard of for a Briton to rock up in the south of Spain without undertaking at least a postgraduate level of education in Hispanic linguistics and cultural studies. With a sensitive ear for phonetic nuance and almost fanatical interest in cultures other than their own, going from ‘good’ to ‘goed’ ain’t gonna be a probleem. With these considerations in mind, the government proposals, despite the crisis context in which they have emerged, bear all the hallmarks of grounded, well thought through, sensible policy making.
So how’s this open linguistic border going to work? Currently there is almost no movement between the Netherlands and the UK and Brexit has reduced this even further. With only one small biplane from the 1950s taking off from London per week to Amsterdam, there is virtually no hope that any linguistic exchange can occur in an organic manner. The government has therefore decided on a more radical step: a bridge from Ramsgate to Noord-Holland. Tentatively named Doggerland Anglo-Dutch Bridge (DAB), this will sport one whole lane in each direction with an additional lingua-lane down the middle. This DAB lingualane will permit lexemes and, possibly even whole phrasal entities to pass freely between northern Holland and south east England. Initially these will be pulled by oxen, but the blueprints are already publicly available for a monorail expansion of the bridge by 2182 at the latest, which will allow abstract schemata such as Linker + modal verb + subject + other arguments and adjuncts + lexical verb (inf) to shoot across the North Sea and literally into the minds of the eagerly waiting British population. Then shall they easily the Dutch language to understand and without doubt will the plan immediately a success become.
As for the engineering for the bridge, Britain got rid of its industry pre-1990 just coz. It needed more room for coffee shops and pizza takeaways and in any case building ships, cars, plane components, nuclear power stations, refrigerators and other things that people really need and will always need and which employ vast swathes of the population in relatively highly skilled jobs was a bit too much like building ships, cars, plane components, nuclear power stations, refrigerators and other things that people really need. For this proposed DAB-based linguafusion move, it’s over to the Dutch for the expertise. As Sebastian Digby McGrigglesworth-St John, Lieutenant of the Cumberland Marches, and Outward Facing Ministerial Attache for Bridges said only a second or so ago: ‘The Dutch built a 32km-long motorway across a sea; there’s no reason why they can’t build one to Dover, or Hull for that matter. Off you go, chaps! Good show!’
As for the economic benefits, they are myriad. Much as the free movement of people brought a real sense of national camaraderie to the UK in the Before Brexit years, so the free movement of West Germanic lexemes across the Doggerland Anglo-Dutch Bridge will boost both economies and establish a sense of shared wonder around strong verbs, floating verbal particles, and complex onsets. However, dissenting voices have been raised (in English and Dutch). Pete Ruffnutt of Gotcha Close, Thwackton told us, ‘S’il y a plus de mots hollandais ici dans mon ville, je vous assure que je trouverai cela contre mes idées pour la future du pays.’ Dwayne Nukkle-Hitt, his mate, added, before noisily revving off on a powerful motorbike, ‘Me parece que no es un buen proposición por que yo no entiendo ningún otra lengua.’ On the Dutch side, a passer-by in Eindhoven told us ‘Nee dankuwel’ when we explained the UK proposals.
But it’s not merely the sociocultural elements that may raise concern. Professorial Professor of Lexical Linguistics in Language and Languages, P. ‘Rafe’ Ezzor, gave us the following sensationalist scare-mongering incoherence: ‘The very core of the English language is at stake here. Consider ‘you’: invariable in subject and object uses in both singular and plural, ‘you’ has been the heart of the British cultural soul for over two centuries. Dost thou not know that invariable ‘you’ was in large part responsible for the extension of the franchise to women in 1802? Dutch, however, not only has stressed and unstressed personal pronouns but differentiates between singular and plural. This is extremely rare in the world’s languages, and is well beyond the capacity of most Britons to understand conceptually, let alone produce in a confident, accurate manner in online interactional contexts.’
We left P. ‘Rafe’ Ezzor to his musings and popped into Wales, just right of the M1 heading north, to ask those guys what they thought about it. Most of the two Welshpersons to whom we talked were ecstatic, saying ‘English has oppressed our country, culture and mode of communication for a millennium. Perhaps this linguistic borderlessness with Dutch is the chance for us to rebuild Offa’s dyke from our side, proclaim a Welsh Prince of Wales for a change, and finally achieve the independence we’ve been dreaming of for centuries.’
With the political, cultural and economic stakes so high in this new form of linguistic borderlessness, it’s almost impossible to predict what might happen. We could see anything from the merging of Amsterdam and London into one great Anglo-Dutch metropolis (Londam or Amsterdon—or perhaps Lamsterdom!) through to a second linguistic Brexit in less time that it takes to say ‘Dank u wel.’ But whatever the future holds, it’s safe to say that for the next few minutes at least it’s ‘Hoe gaat it met u?’ to linguisitif-unification and ‘Vaarwel!’ to the dream of splendid British isolation. It seems indeed that much as a lexeme seeks phrasal companionship with, if not other lexemes, at least a bound morpheme or two, so the UK will remain tied to Europe in one way or another.
1 Incidentally, the word ‘tack’ is itself, quintessentially British in the etymological sense. When the Angles and Saxons (oh yeah, and the Jutes) popped over to Celtic Britain in the mid-fifth century, they brought clocks that went ‘tick-tock’. Celtic clocks, being mostly made of yew, went ‘tack-tack’. This, along with badger, brock, tor, London, Kent and Thames is one of the 14 words that survived from Celtic into Anglo-Saxon.
2 Or is it ‘awoke’. I mean, ‘rise’ and ‘arise’ have clearly different meanings and different argument structures.
3 All roads used to lead to Rome; now, in a double inversion of history, very few lead to Kent but those that do are gridlocked.