back to article Flawless Dutch does for cuffed duo in CoinVault ransomware probe

The use of "flawless Dutch phrases" has seen two suspects, thought to be behind the spread of the CoinVault ransomware, arrested in the The Netherlands, in a case where security software firms offered technical knowhow to the Dutch police. Dutch police from the nation's National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) arrested two (as …

  1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Stop

    Meanwhile

    The City of London Police have busted a granny for downloading an Vera Lynn mp3.

  2. imanidiot Silver badge

    “Dutch is a relatively difficult language to write without any mistakes"

    I'm not really sure about that. Dutch isn't THAT hard. It's just unlikely that a foreigner would go through the trouble of learning a relatively little used language just to obfuscate his nationality.

    On top of that I doubt many Dutch people would be capable of composing perfectly flawless sentences :)

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Residing in The Netherlands, I can say that learning Dutch is NOT easy... Rules, exceptions and exceptions to the exceptions... If there were nearly flawless sentences, they most likely are Dutch.

      bedankt en tot ziens!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      On top of that I doubt many Dutch people would be capable of composing perfectly flawless sentences :)

      Excuse me? It's not that hard for someone who has grown up there :). The only fly in the ointment is that they went through an attempt at simplifying spelling which made a bit of a mess of things. Dutch is relatively easy if you have picked it up before you're about 12 years old (not sure why, but that seems to be a cutoff point). After that, you'll still be able to learn it (although I cannot fathom why you'd want to), but it is likely you'll end up with a foreign accent rather than a local one.

      One of the more entertaining features of Dutch is that it allows words to be combined. A word like "poedersuikerzakjesfabrikantenverzamelingsgebouw" is entirely valid in Dutch, but you'd have to disassemble it to translate it into English (it would be "powder sugar bag manufacturers assembly building"). I actually have no idea how that would be handled by a spell checker, I suspect the thing would just give up :).

      On the plus side, it uses at least the same character set as English, just the "ij" sequence is one character in Dutch (on computers it has remained "i j", though), it's not like Thai where spaces between words appear to be entirely optional :).

      They also have the occasional sprinkle of accented characters, partly because Dutch has adopted a lot of foreign words (sometimes to the detriment of perfectly servicable Dutch words), and occasionally because of some oddities like the word for "one". The word "one" in Dutch sound identical to the Dutch word for "a", so "one dog" sounds always like "een hond". But if it's a count (one dog versus two) it would be written as één. So there.

      Now forget about all that and use English. It's a far more useful language, trust me :)

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        @AC

        "although I cannot fathom why you'd want to"

        The government is forcing me to learn Dutch, look up inbergering. I will be fined(over and over again) if I do not comply. Welcome to the collective, you will assimilate, meneer.

        en bedankt voor de les...

        I wish the Dutch gubbermint would think like you, but they do not want to lose their heritage.

      2. RikC

        Well being Dutch and knowing a lot of international people (also because my previous occupation in consultancy which tends to be very international) in the Netherlands I would say there would be two main reasons for learning Dutch:

        - For doing quite a number of types of jobs. Especially when you've been living here for quite a while or are somebodies spouse and fancy a career change (I've seen that around me more than once). I.E. when you want to work in 95% of lower, middle or higher education jobs (excluding academic level). Learn Dutch then... Freelancing? Very often good to know Dutch then to keep communication clear. Same holds for most civil servant jobs, etc. Also when working for many smaller to medium sized companies knowing at least sufficient Dutch is almost unavoidable. And even in a very internationally focused country economic sectors that are geographically limited in their reach have very little need to use English. This is especially visible within regional utility companies that run the gas/electricity network infrastructure. In fact people who work there often have to use so little English in their everyday lives (when not living in Amsterdam ;-) ) that they tend to get quite a bit worse at it is my personal experience.

        - Understanding of certain things that can only be explained in Dutch, getting along better with your Dutch family in law when you're somebodies spouse ;-) And in general making a good impression: When you speak a local language in a smaller country and it's clear you put effort in it (something that actually accentuated with an accent) at a later age this is always well appreciated and seen as a compliment.

      3. Avalanche

        The Dutch "een" doesn't sound identical for "one" and "a". They sound different, but are written the same (optionally you can use accents to stress that you mean "one", although usually the context makes this clear already).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It is not possible"

    4. Identity
      Boffin

      "a relatively little used language"

      OK, it's not English, French, Spanish or Chinese, but there are a surprising number of places around the globe where Nederlands gesproken is. Apart from the Netherlands and Belgium, there is South Africa and Namibia, Indonesia, certain islands in the Carribean and Surinam. Maybe I've even missed something...

      1. Geoff May

        Re: "a relatively little used language"

        South Africa uses Afrikaans which is a very simplified version of Dutch. We had some Dutch visitors in South Africa once and they said that Afrikaans sounded like a very young child speaking.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: "a relatively little used language"

          It's not simplified; it's been more or less isolated from Dutch since the 17th century, and has been developing independently. I can read and understand it with just the occasional word needing some extra thought, and when we had guests from SA visiting we all could converse in our own language. It's got less foreign loan-words than Dutch (as does Flemish, BTW), and for stuff that has entered the language since the split they obviously have different, but usually perfectly comprehensible, words.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: "a relatively little used language"

        South Africans speak Afrikaans, which is very close to Dutch but not quite there. Over the years it has developed it's own sentence structuring, vocabulary and a few extra tonal inflections not found in "ordinary Dutch". For a Dutchman Afrikaans is close enough to Dutch that the brain will try to understand it but at the same time get a massive headache because you can't understand a word of it. Whenever I hear Afrikaans my brain insists it's listening to a language it can understand...

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: "a relatively little used language"

          @AC: Dutch is not an easy language to get exactly right, but then again, neither is English. I am a Dutchman myself so I can't really speak for learning Dutch, but compared to say German or French (or Czech, which I've been trying to learn recently) I think it's a much simpler language. There's barely any noun or verb conjugation in Dutch. While those crazy Czech just about conjugate EVERYTHING. Every language has it's little idiosyncrasies that are hard to learn. Dutch or English are both no different. One nice thing about the Netherlands you will find though is that almost every Dutch person speaks atleast a little bit of English. Most even speak more than 1 foreign language. (I consider myself proficient in English and German and can just about ask for directions in French for instance)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "a relatively little used language"

            One nice thing about the Netherlands you will find though is that almost every Dutch person speaks at least a little bit of English.

            That's partly what makes learning how to speak Dutch so hard - as most of them are multilingual they'll switch to your language the moment they pick up your accent :)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "a relatively little used language"

          For a Dutchman Afrikaans is close enough to Dutch that the brain will try to understand it but at the same time get a massive headache because you can't understand a word of it.

          I have that with the language they speak in Luxembourg. It's like a Denial of Service attack on my brain the way their language makes it switch between all the languages I speak, trying to get *some* sort of grip on it (and fails totally).

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: "a relatively little used language"

          For a Dutchman Afrikaans is close enough to Dutch that the brain will try to understand it but at the same time get a massive headache because you can't understand a word of it.

          Je praat poep.

          I can readily understand 95% of a conversation in Afrikaans once I get "tuned" into the accent and the tonal inflections.

          With Frisian, I need to switch my brain to Danish.

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: "a relatively little used language"

            Misschien ligt het aan mij dan. Ik kan er meestal geen touw aan vastknopen.

            (Translation: Maybe it's just me then. I usually can't make heads or tails of it)

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: "a relatively little used language"

              They (the visitors) remarked that they did encounter that, but it varied heavily with where they were. More often here around the border with Germany, even though one would expect people being used to switching between dialect and common Dutch (and often Low German too). Apparently that doesn't give them the flexibility to deal with Afrikaans.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "a relatively little used language"

        but there are a surprising number of places around the globe where Nederlands gesproken is

        It's "but there are a surprising number of places around the globe where Nederlands wordt gesproken".

        Bloody foreigners :)

  3. Johan Bastiaansen

    huh?

    There's no such thing as flawless Dutch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: huh?

      There's no such thing as flawless Dutch.

      There is and the rules are defined, but it is ironically not usually spoken on TV.

      AFAIK, Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands (ABN, but not the bank) is the gold standard for Dutch and was historically based on the pronunciation as used in Brabant, one of the southern provinces adjacent to Belgium.

      However, because Dutch radio & TV originates around Hilversum, the "g" sounds you're probably most familiar with is much harsher than you'll hear in Brabant, and the "r" is also more aggressive in sound (the pronunciation in Brabant is closer to Flemish).

      As an aside, The Netherlands is also host to two other officially recognised languages, being West Frisian and Limburgish, which occur at entirely opposite sides of the country (Friesland in the North and Limburg in the South), and are considered separate languages to Dutch. Limburgish is a political hot potato, though, but is apparently unique in its slight tonal aspects similar to Asian languages where some words change meaning depending on the tone with which they are pronounced.

      Those in Limburg also invented both the word and the concept of vlaai. Yum :)

      1. imanidiot Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: huh?

        West Frysian is not a language though, it's a speech impediment :-P There are several more dialect/languages that are just closely enough related to Dutch not to be considered a separate language but still be completely incomprehensible to mere mortals like Gronings and Achterhoeks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: huh?

          West Frysian is not a language though, it's a speech impediment :-P

          LOL

          There are several more dialect/languages that are just closely enough related to Dutch not to be considered a separate language but still be completely incomprehensible to mere mortals like Gronings and Achterhoeks.

          Wow - I didn't know that, thanks. Those too appear to have their own ISO codes. Not that I expect to see that show up in translated UIs for LibreOffice and others, but it's interesting to know.

          The funniest language implementation I've seen was in the early days of RedHat where they offered "redneck" as one of the installer languages :).

    2. Grikath Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: huh?

      Now I'm going out on a limb here, but having been born within spitting distance of the cathedral that marks the centre of the one dutch city that has the dialect that's the basis for what's commonly known as "proper dutch" and having spent the majority of my formative years (up until twelve) in the direct vicinity of said city centre, and the fact that even after decades-long perambulations through the rest of the country, and furrin' bits, I may qualify as a bit of an expert on speaking and writing the language properly. ( As some peeps say, I still sound "posh" even when properly beered-up.)

      And I maintain that "proper dutch" is still a biatch to pull off. If only because if you're looking t an exception to every bleedin' rule...

  4. DougS Silver badge

    Let this be a lesson to you

    Never comment your code!

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Let this be a lesson to you

      Never comment your code!

      Seems more like an argument to learn more languages.

      Klingon, for instance, carries a fairly low likelihood you'll be identified as a native speaker :)

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