De nederlandse taal, ik vind HET mooi.
I learned that de words can be divided into masculine and feminine, and are referred back to as such in the object form.
de trein = ik zie hem
de literatuur = ik lees haar
Although, in everyday speech in the Netherlands, most people use 'hem' as the object form to refer back to de words because many native speakers don't know anymore what the correct gender is. In Belgium, however, they still strictly follow the above mentioned rule.
Therefore: I would say 'de nederlandse taal, hij is mooi (subject) or Ik vind hem mooi (object). But I have been corrected a number of times by different Dutch speakers to: De nederlandse taal, HET is mooi or Ik vind HET mooi. The same goes for 'de literatuur' = ik vind HET mooi (niet haar).
The closest explanation of this I've been able to squeeze out of any of them is that 'hem' only refers back to a tangible de word. 'Het' is used for intangible or abstract de words. The best explanation I've been given was the vague: 'a train is a SOMETHING, whereas literature is NOT a something', from which I'm extrapolating this tangible/non-tangible idea.
According to my grammar texts and onzetaal.nl this use is utterly wrong, but most of the Dutch I've spoken to seem to stick to their guns that it is correct, although they can't explain why.
Can anyone tell me if I have understood this 'tangible/non-tangible' difference correctly? And if so, would using the (I'm assuming) correct forms seem / sound snobbish or pompous to Dutch ears?
Post edit: Here is a more realistic sentence I was just corrected on: "Spaans, dat is een geweldige taal, niet? Ik vind HET wel leuk (HET = de taal) ofschoon ik met Italiaans bezig ben."
My 'hem' was changed to 'het' and the notice (HET = de taal) added. How can 'het' refer to any de word?