Geplaatst in Personal

Do we have to fear for the Dutch language to die out?

The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch. Most Dutch speak incredible English. They tend to be quite proud of their English proficiency.

There are around 500 000 internationals living in the Netherlands, which goes from the long-term expat to the one semester exchange student. Added on top of the amount of migrant workers who moved here in the 60’s mostly from Turkey and Morocco. That does make a lot of people and among them who do not speak (proper)Dutch. Other than that the Dutch language is facing strong competition from, English in the internet, television and social media, music and university education. The increasingly English language-orientated education is putting our population at a risk of losing part of the Dutch vocabulary. By thinking and writing exclusively in English we will lose part of our Dutch vocabulary and with it the ability to think in that language. Did you know that more people in Amsterdam speak English than in Los Angeles.

Language is always changing, evolving and adapting to the needs of it’s users. In the early days changes were so slow that from year to year we hardly noticed it. With the advent of new technologies our language changes fast. Due to these influences, a language always embraces new words and expressions as people come across new words and phrases in their day-to-day lives and integrate them into their own speech. Many of the changes that occur in language begin with the language of youngsters.

I am totally aware of the fact that language isn’t set in stone. Language changes over time, new words and expressions are added to the dictionary while others fall into disuse and disappear. It is unavoidable. I regret that so many great expressions and terms will be forgotten over time. As a language dies out, so too does a wealth of knowledge particularly in the field of culture and history. For example due to the historically large number of Jews in Amsterdam, Yiddish has certainly found its way into the local language. So does the 17th century cant language called Bargoens used by criminals, tramps and traveling salesmen as a secret code. Like the local language, Bargoens has many Yiddish loanwords. Up to a few decades ago it was part of the colloquial language for the inhabitants of Amsterdam. Nowadays it’s in danger of dying out.

It’s hard to imagine a language with 23 million native speakers being in danger of dying out if we do not put a stop to it. Not only would this mean the demise of our precious language but also of the country’s culture. -by Bregje

Geplaatst in Personal

The discrepancies of celebrating Christmas 

What means Christmas to you? A season of peace, happiness and good cheer to everyone? I never thought of Christmas as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. Writing this blog post I have to ask myself why I always had a strong aversion to Christmas.It’s probably an addition of different facets.

Ever since I was a kid I had a thing about double dealing. For example: My sister and I had to call our elderly neighbors ‘grandpa and grandma’ or me feeling betrayed when I found out Santa doesn’t exit. So why celebrate Christmas as a non Christian?

Coming from a family of ‘upper class’ values, traditions and etiquettes, I never felt at ease. Don’t get me wrong I do not mind informal manners but I have an allergy to these over the top etiquettes. Like having to doll up or dinning etiquette, especially the outmoded cliches about gender roles. Image being raised by a feminist mom.

To me it’s such an antithesis that lots of people pig out or spend a fortune on gifts over Christmas while others are starving to dead or living in fear.

Just think: the prophecy for this year is that more than a quarter of the population of the Dutch will not celebrate Christmas with their family due to quarrels over inheritance. What about the amount of families who do sit together at the dinner table pretending as though nothing were amiss.

Last but not least the group of lonely people is growing as we speak. The pang of loneliness and isolation is more perceptible at ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.

That’s what I call hypocrite- Bregje

Geplaatst in Amsterdam, Dutch

What makes a Dutch Dutch? 

A friend of mine, born and raised in Romania, asked me to blog about what makes the Dutch Dutch.

Doing some research on the net I discovered that there are many articles out there on the Dutch and their habits. Even courses are offered and books are written on how to handle the Dutch culture.

Dutch assertiveness and directness are notorious. Many internationals would probably say that the Dutch are often blunt to the point of being rude. It might take some all-out effort to get used to it without taking it personally. If you manage, it does have its advantages. At least you know where you stand.

It also striking that the Dutch are such a moaners. Their favorite subject to complain about is being too busy. An other great source of inspiration is the weather. Regardless of which season it is, there is always something to complain about.

The Dutch cuss a lot. A substantial number of cuss words they use are references to diseases, genitals or profanity. Furthermore several English cuss words are commonly in use. I do not mind a little cussing as long as you do not insult anybody. Unfortunately not everybody is aware of the impact of their cussing.

What else to know. Do not ever drop by unannounced as specially not at dinner time. They might consider your barging in as rude. Dutch like everything carefully planned out, such as the exact amount of food per person. There is a high probability that they will sent you away since there will not be enough food to share. On the other hand they are appreciated for being spontaneous, punctual and ‘cozy’.

Which brings me to the point that Dutch people are considered ‘cheap’. It is common that after they offer you a biscuit with your tea they will put the lit back on the cookie jar. I think Holland is probably the only country where they use a ‘bottle scraper’ to prevent wasting food. The Dutch have regularly been involved in wars. They learned how to survive by been budgetary and planning ahead.

Except when it comes to soccer the Dutch have no strong national pride. Holland is known for its progressive and tolerant attitude, regarding to the legislation and the freedom of religion.Sadly over the years Holland has become a lot less tolerant. I think it partly has to do with the national attitude. It’s all about modesty and being down to earth. Their motto is ‘doe maar normaal dan doe je al gek genoeg!’. Literally this means ‘ just behave normally, it’s crazy enough’. In away their modesty and down to earth attitude makes them a bit narrow minded and judgmental.

I suppose I have to dedicate another article on this topic, there is so much more to write about.

To what extent do I recognize myself in being typical Dutch? I have to admit, obviously apart from the bad habits, I am quite Dutch. -Bregje
photo credit: avlxyz Earl Grey. Hot. via photopin (license)

Geplaatst in Dutch, United States


Being a High School student in Winfield, Kansas I was frequently asked if Holland is near the Netherlands and if we speak Netherlandish?

Only a featherhead can ask a question like that, you might think, but actually I do understand the confusion.

Americans are citizens of the United States of America, Britains of Great Britain, Cubans of Cuba and so on, but what about the Dutch?

In France they speak French, in Turkey Turkish, in Germany German and in The Netherlands we speak Dutch!

To confuse you a bit more The Netherlands is also called Holland.

Another weird thing is the way the Dutch count. ’25’ is pronounced five and twenty instead of twenty five!

This all doesn’t make sense to me. Or will the Dutch proof that evolution CAN go in reverse. -Bregje