Sighs, lots of sighs. That’s the best way to sum up last Monday evening’s Grand Erasmus Dictation Competition. Because all those people who were sure they’d complete the dictation without a single misspelling were quickly proven wrong.

Those taking the Dutch-language dictation found that some knowledge of French and German came in handy, as the dictation featured words and phrases of French and German descent.

It was economists who proved most adept at this. Both the winner of the academic staff’s contest and the winner of the students’ contest were economists. Peter van der Zwan, an assistant professor of Applied Economics, was a second-time winner of the Erasmus Dictation Competition, making just 8 mistakes. For his part, Economics and Business Administration student Tariq Gorter only made 9 mistakes.

In the English-language version of the Erasmus dictation, Gabi Helfert of RSM boasted a mere 5.5 mistakes, while student Ralph Meijer did very well with 6.5 mistakes.

Proper preparation

Is taking part in a dictation competition a matter of preparation? That depends on whom you ask. Van der Zwan said, “I have looked up spelling rules over the last few weeks, and I looked up how to deal with loanwords.” Gorter’s preparation was rather less time-consuming. “I’ve always been kind of interested in language. Maybe it’s a matter of talent, as well.”

If you’re keen to try your hand at another dictation contest, by all means watch the National Dictation Competition, broadcast by NTR on NPO2 on 19 December. Here are a few tips from the winners of the Erasmus Dictation Competition: “Over the last few weeks, I have very consciously focused on language, which is very educational,” Van der Zwan explained. For his part, Gorter advised participants to keep calm. “Don’t overthink things. Spelling is more logical than you might think.”