13 June 2006

Dear BBC, I Have A Complaint About Your Double Dutch...

Dear EBC (English Broadcasting Corporation), I have a complaint about the Dutch. No, not the new political party promoting the dropping of the age of consent to 12, either because they have a paedophile agenda as some news agencies have described or because they intend on pushing the boundaries of free speech. My complaint is the incorrect use of the name "Holland" to describe the football team from The Kingdom of the Netherlands. Twelve countries make up the Netherlands, two of them are called North and South Holland. Neither are the biggest however combined they are. All of Europe refers to their footballing team correctly as the Netherlands, yet the BBC continue with the apparent short-sightedness of referring to them as Holland. Sincerely, Phill G.

Dear Phill G, It's a fair cop; you got us guv'nor. We have a blog posting trying to explain this and we certainly didn't mean any offence. Sincerely, The BBC.

My Comments from the Blog: It is a common mis-use in the UK that Holland = The Netherlands, just like in many countries it is a common misconception that England = Great Britain. As an Englishman proudly calling Scotland my home I would be devastated if I heard any country us the rational that we might as well call the GB Olympic team England because most people refer to it that way. Furthermore just because it's a common mistake doesn't mean it's okay (that's why I have correct apostrophe's in my post). As for the argument that the Netherlands call their team Holland, that's certainly not what it says on their badges or on the FIFA World Cup Site. Maybe BBC Four could cover the World Cup and Jullian Fellows could host it?

Most Interesting Other Comment from the Blog: Another common mistake I've heard is many commentators referring to Shevchenko's team as "the Ukraine" instead of just "Ukraine."


  1. I read your comments on the BBC and agree that it is a common misconception calling the Netherlands 'Holland.' Another common mistake is putting apostrophes into plurals and I also agree that 'just because it’s a common mistake doesn’t mean it’s okay.'

  2. Thanks for the comment Degs. Kudos for spotting the intentional greengrocers apostrophe inserted into my BBC comment - I hoped someone would find it amusing! I noticed on the BBC site you comment picked up the mess up with rationale (I never put the e at the end of mine) - yes a typing mistake but *so* embarrassing!

    Have you seen Never Mind the Full Stops yet? It is on BBC4 at 10.30pm on Thursdays but it's unlikely to be repeated on BBC2. It's hardly a laugh a minute show but you learn a few things and get to give yourself a quick test on all things linguistic.

  3. My further comments from the BBC blog:
    With respect to the continuing mis-use of the definite article "the" before Ukraine, there is apparently an exception where it is acceptable to for it to precede Ukraine. The example is of the form "The Scotland of William Wallace is not the Scotland of Jack McConnell"; let's face it though, Jonathan Pearce is not trying to be that profound is he.

  4. [...] I am very proud to add another new category to my site, “Word Play”. Although I’ve been providing little tit-bits here and there, including teaching my colleague the rarely used verb to grubble, it’s now time to give a central store to all these useful insights. I posted a comment on a BBC blog and in it included the line “That’s why all my posts contain correct apostrophe’s”. The observant of you, including Degs who represents our Civil Service, will notice that in the word apostrophe there is a greengrocer’s apostrophe, e.g. carrott’s 20p. I thought it was very funny and I may even try to keep writing the plural of apostrophe with an incorrect apostrophe in it (although I may get bored of it very quickly or annoyed that no one notices it!). Hence, a new category. [...]