Saying someone is alpha or beta in Dutch refers to how scientifically-minded they are. In English, if it says anything at all, it’s reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, in which the alphas are the intellectuals and the betas are the skilled workers.
In Dutch, it’s a classification from the education system, with subjects such as languages, literature and history being alpha, whereas maths, physics, IT, chemistry and so forth are beta. (Sometimes extended to put behavioural and other “soft” sciences into a gamma class too). It means nothing in English and so you have to use other short phrases instead.
- hard sciences, soft sciences, social sciences
- “I’m not scientifically-minded”
- “a very logical mindset”
- “Oh, I’m useless with numbers, I’m afraid…”
I don’t know if it’s purely Dutch, I’m afraid, but I am at any rate not familiar with this terminology in other languages.
Prevalence: low. Rarely turns up in writing outside résumés and HRM contexts.
Frequency: moderate. If you know what it means, it’s a very convenient shorthand to put in your CV, so people do (I took beta subjects at high school).
Native: no. Utterly incomprehensible.