So, first off, it is a squid, not a kraken. This matters (well, to me it does) because the word kraken is Norse in origin, and Norse in mythology, and though it is by now also a common word in English (due, mostly, to jokes on the Internet) I felt it was the wrong animal to represent the English language.
Though the etymology is not clear, the word “squid” seems to be an old English word from the time of the Celts, as in Irish and Welsh it is a similar word, while in the other languages that English borrowed heavily from it sounds completely different. It may have something to do with the verb “to squirt” as it squirts ink, and the word “squirt” itself probably comes from the noise a squirting thing makes when it squirts.(The Germanic languages opted for the what-you-see-is-what-you-get sensibleness of “ink fish” while in the Romance languages it is a variant of “calamar” which also refers to its ink as that comes from the word “pen” in Latin.)
Also, “squid” is a really funny word to say. “Squid”, “squid”. Hihi.
The fact that the squid squirts ink and has a name that means “pen” in Latin makes it a great animal to represent a language.
I chose to represent English as a many-tentacled beast rather than a British flag or some other English symbol like the Big Ben, a cup of tea or a red phone box, and I did so with good reason. Where some linguists that write about English choose to see British English or American English as the gold standard, I choose to see English as a world language. Variants like Indian English, Australian English and yes, even Dutch English, are legitimate forms of the language, too. Continuing to insist that British English is somehow better than all these other forms is favouritism, comes with a slew of problematic historical context like colonialism, and if you are British (like me!) it could also be seen as rather xenophobic.
So hence the monster with the tentacles; each tentacle has a slightly different colour to represent the different flavours of English – though there are far more than eight in reality – and I suppose the two spatula-floppy-thingies could be American and British English. The fact that the tentacles come from its mouth, which is, you know, also where language (usually*) comes from, is a fun bonus bit of symbolism.
So, in short, I went all-out on symbolism and for many reasons chose a majestic water beast to represent the English language. Then I chose to represent the Dutch language with…. a clog. A clog in the form of an itty bitty sailboat. I actually wanted it to be a pedal bike but that was too hard to draw.
The clog is squished into the squid, because that is what’s happening; Dutch and English have collided, or rather, are colliding, and little Dutch will just have to wait and see how far it is going to have to squish into English. Will it squish all the way inside and disappear? (Spoiler: it won’t. Dutch won’t die out in our or our children’s life time, don’t worry.)
Dutch isn’t the only language that has squished into the squid. If the squid in the picture were to roll over, you would see a u-boat in the shape of a bratwurst, a canoe in the shape of a baguette, an airplane in the shape of a kimono, and many other dirigibles and other vehicles all stuck in there.
*I was thinking of sign language. What were you thinking?