My mother tongue is Dutch and I'm writing my thesis in English. I am required to write a summary both in English and my own language, Dutch. Would it be ok to write the Dutch summary in a dialect? Which is still comprehensible to everybody, just slightly different spelling. I have a deep connection to my dialect which is dying out. My thesis does regard natural language but has no relation to dutch or dialects or anything of the sort.

I can't ask my uni because there are 0 guidelines to structure or style, just content. And it is very very strict on the size of a thesis, only allowing 6000 words which is ridiculously small for 8 months of work.

  • 4
    Have you thought about simply submitting three summaries, one in English, one in Dutch and one in your dialect? And most importantly, have you asked your advisor?
    – mlk
    Apr 7, 2020 at 11:19
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    Likely the only person who will care - other than you - is the person accepting the thesis into the university system. That is the person you possibly have to convince, so it makes sense to ask that person. I wrote my own thesis summary in Danish (my mother tongue) rather than Swedish, by referring to an old, obscure rule that Nordic languages can be treated equal...
    – nabla
    Apr 7, 2020 at 11:28
  • Three summaries sounds like a good solution. I am hesitant to ask my advisorbecause my uni only allows 6000 words, for 8 months of work. It would be rejected solely on the extra work required for my advisor (I had that experience too often)
    – Rien
    Apr 7, 2020 at 11:38
  • What kind of thesis are we talking about here? Master's ? Bachelor's? (Clearly not PhD.)
    – TimRias
    Apr 7, 2020 at 11:45
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    Nobody here can give you a definitive answer. But really, do you think anybody in the university bureaucracy is going to care enough to make a fuss about this? And if they do, what is the worst that will happen? I can't imagine it being more than them returning the thesis to you and asking you to rewrite the summary.
    – avid
    Apr 7, 2020 at 12:34

2 Answers 2


Not asking your university because there are no guidelines makes no sense. Since there are no guidelines, you should ask your university. Not random strangers online. They are the only ones who can answer. Ask your advisor too. If both tell you they don't care, do what you want. If one of them has some requirement, do what they say.

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    My uni is also very very strict on the size of a thesis, only allowing 6000 words which is ridiculously small for 8 months of work. The default answer would be no because it would be extra "unnecessary" text.
    – Rien
    Apr 7, 2020 at 11:37

My heart wants to say "Do it", but my head cautions against it. Rather, I'd suggest waiting until later in your career when you have more control over the ground-rules than you do when writing a thesis.

In particular, though I'm not certain, the authorities that require you to write in Dutch probably intend that to be a rather narrow interpretation of what constitutes Dutch. That is, the majoritarian version of the language. You will shake fewer trees by just going along.

But, having the thesis done and the degree in hand, you have a lot more freedom to choose how you write and a lot more freedom to explain exactly why you write as you do.

As we sometimes say: Keep your powder dry.

  • Im inclined to agree. Perhaps - as much as I want to - this isn't worth the effort and possible negative effects from uni. What is your take on making 3 summaries? english, dutch and the dialect.
    – Rien
    Apr 7, 2020 at 11:54
  • I wouldn't do that unless you can also explain in the thesis why you are doing so. But the fact that the thesis is on a different topic than Dutch dialects seems to suggest that this won't help and might hurt.
    – Buffy
    Apr 7, 2020 at 12:03

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