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Henk Penseel's Wittenborg Blog: having the right name pays off

 
Wittenborg News
Henk Penseel's Wittenborg Blog: having the right name pays off
by Wittenborg News - Saturday, 13 October 2012, 12:23 PM
 

Henk Penseel's Wittenborg Blog: having the right name pays off

Wittenborg University BuildingWhen you are applying for a job, speaking without a particular accent helps, but also a name might do the trick. Especially in the Benelux. You will have more status when your name is Van Vollenhove tot den Oever than just plain Smit. For an English speaking person Van could be a Christian name, like Van Morrison, the Irish singer. In Dutch Van is mostly the first part of a surname, which you write separately from the part that follows, so it is Van Vollenhoven.
 
Here comes a strange difference between Flemish and Dutch, actually the same language with a slightly different pronunciation, like English and Scottish. In Dutch we write Van Eden with a capital V. In Belgium too. If your name is De Wit, it will be written with a capital D. But if you belong to the aristocracy in Belgium, when you are noble, you write van Eden and de Wit. So in Belgium you can see when people belong to the nobility.
 
And of course when you belong to the nobility you have a high status. In Belgium they would like to be recognized as such. So if you see a name written like De Wit, he could be your neighbor, but if you see de Wit, you know that person probably lives out of sight in a manor. The Belgian nobility named themselves 'les petits de', because all their names start with a small (under cast) letter.
 

And the aristocrats (please don't swap them incidentally with the Aristocats) help each other getting the right jobs, like the old boy's network of Eton, which is often referred to as "the chief nurse of England's statesmen". Being in the right network, speaking with a poshy accent and at the end dropping an aristocratic name definitely pays off.

WUP 13/10/12