Willem Alexander “literally and figuratively” is teasing a lot on Twitter. “Literal sickness has hit the throne speech,” writes Sheila Sitalsingh, a columnist for De Volkskrant. Then someone clicked “figuratively”, then it became ambiguous: “In the case of subsidies, the government wronged the people in the literal and figurative sense.”
Society control our language
However, linguist Wim Daniels is convinced that King Willem Alexander’s saying was correct yesterday when he read the Throne Address. “Because such a text of the Throne Speech goes first five times in the Genootschap Onze Taal,” says Daniels.
“So this must be true. They mean that some people were wronged and that this happened lawfully to other people, but not in a pleasurable way that caused their suffering. That must be the meaning of the metaphor,” he says.
Give advice on the text
Taalaadviseur Rutger Keisbrink Genootschap Onze Taal confirms that they provide language advice to King’s letter-writer Willem-Alexander. But our Language Society advisors don’t see the Throne Address five times, says Wim Daniels, but only once, says Kiesbrink. It happened last week.
Kizbrink and a colleague looked at the text: “Then we go to the Binnenhof. We are taken to a room where the text is. Then it really stays in that room for as long as we are there. And when we leave the speechwriter takes it back to his office,” he explains.
Was she there?
Kizbrink can no longer remember whether the passage about “literal and metaphorical injustice to victims of the suitcase case” actually existed last week. “I’d almost like to quote Rota,” he says, “I don’t have an active memory of it. But that’s literally the case.”
Kiezebrink stresses that the association’s comments are advice and that they will not be able to see the final text after that.
“When the script was spoken out yesterday and there were reactions, we started thinking,” says counselor Kisbrink. “Didn’t we see this? We couldn’t imagine it. We suspect it was added recently.”
“It’s really not bad language,” says Kisbrink. “But that’s something that’s a matter of debate and that’s something you have to be careful about in the Throne Address. So we’ve been saying that.”
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