The Dutch language is spoken far beyond the nation’s borders, but the Netherlands itself has always been a multilingual country. Moreover, as a small linguistic region, the Netherlands was an early specialist in translation to and from the national tongue. NL-Lab investigates the ‘Dutch translation factory’, but we also carry out research on the ‘departed Dutch’: what do Dutch emigrants read abroad?


The book project Translation in the Netherlands provides an overview of the historical culture of translation in the Southern and Northern Netherlands. Inger Leemans describes how the Dutch book market lost its position as the magazin de l’univers in the eighteenth century, and became more reliant on books in the vernacular. The growing demand for a wide range of books was met with a flood of translations. The Netherlands became home to a ‘translation factory’, which also determined the scope of Dutch culture.


The research project Eastbound: The distribution and reception of translations and adaptations of Dutch-language literature, 1850-1990, focuses on the international circulation of Dutch literature. The project shows that Flanders and the Netherlands not only imported and translated many literary works from abroad, but that Dutch literature was also an important export product. In doing so, Eastbound focuses on the distribution and reception of Dutch-language literature in the German, Polish, Czech and Hungarian regions.


When we refer to the Dutch language, to which ‘Dutch’ are we referring? From a historical perspective, the Netherlands is a multilingual country. Today’s multilingualism – through dialects, regional languages, neighbouring countries’ languages, ‘migration languages’ and global languages such as English – plays an important role in processes of national, regional and cultural identity-formation. At NL-Lab, we investigate how the idea of the Netherlands as a monolingual country is still being shaped, substantiated and preserved.



Related projects

Eastbound. The distribution and reception oftranslations and adaptations of Dutch-language literature, 1850-1990.FWO / NWO, open competition programme, ‘Dutch-Flemish Cooperation’. Duration: 2016-2020. Partners: Elke Brems (KU Leuven), Digital Library and Bibliography of Literature in Translation (DLBT).


Vertalen in de Nederlanden van het jaar 500 tot heden [Translation in the Netherlands from 500 AD to the present day]. Book project. Publisher: Boom Amsterdam. Editors: Ton Naaijkens (Universiteit Utrecht) & Theo Hermans (King’s College London), Caroline Meijer. Authors: Inger Leemans, Dirk Schoenaers, Cees Koster. Expected publication date: 2021. The book will provide a wide-ranging, succinct and varied overview of the history of translation in the Netherlands from 500 AD until the present day, with surveys, illustrations, vignettes, portraits of translators, statistics, lists, and important events and phenomena.



Elke Brems and Orsolya Réthelyi, ‘Rescuing Something Fine: Huizinga’s Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen (The Waning of the Middle Ages) as World Literature’, in: Theo D’haen (red.), Dutch and Flemish Literature as World Literature (Bloomsbury Academic 2019).


Ton van Kalmthout, ‘Adèle en de ernstige jonge man uit het verre land. De Hongaars-Nederlandse relaties van het echtpaar von Antal-Opzoomer’, in: Zacht Lawijd 16:2 (2017) 47-65.


Leonie Cornips, Vincent de Rooij, Irene Stengs and Lotte Thissen, ‘Dialect and Local Media: Reproducing the Multi-Dialectal Space in Limburg (the Netherlands)’, in: Jacob Thøgersen, Nikolas Coupland en Janus Mortensen (red.), Style, Media and Language Ideologies (Novus 2016) 189-216.


Leonie Cornips and Louis van den Hengel, ‘Revitalizingthe Coal Mining Past in Heerlen Through Hybrid LanguageculturalPractices’, in: Sociaaleconomische geschiedenis van Limburg 62 (2018) 280-311.