Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics vol:2 issue:2 pages:133-151
In spite of the phonological nature of the spelling of regular simple past forms in Dutch, even university students make many mistakes: they add <de> to the stem when <te> is the standard form, or vice versa. This is observed to a much higher degree in the Netherlands than in Flanders when verb stems ending on a fricative are involved. Yet, our Dutch respondents appear to have a better knowledge of the ‘rule’, the mnemonic device known as ‘t kofschip. In general the Flemish mistakes can be accounted for by the natural influence of frequency and analogy, while the Dutch ones seem to result primarily from an ongoing sound change in the Netherlands: the devoicing of the fricatives. Our results can be answered on a didactic level, but also politically, as a minimal spelling reform could solve the problem to a large extent.