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
Getting your driver’s license in the Netherlands is an expensive affair and can be pretty tough to get. In the States and especially on the farmland of Kansas it’s a piece of cake. From the early age of 16 kids are allowed to drive. They are authorized to drive back and forth to school. Drivers Ed can be followed at school and runs for a couple semesters. Participants receive in-class, in-car and on-the-road training for just a small fee! For what I remember the-behind-the-wheel training wasn’t much more than driving around the school parking lot.
Being a senior in high school I had the opportunity to get my license for FREE as well. Unfortunately my mom threw a monkey wrench in the works. Even my nagging and faking her signature didn’t help.
At the age of twenty eight I finally saved up enough money and to get my driver’s license. Since I didn’t have a car of my own and I didn’t practice enough I lost my convince to drive.
A few weeks ago I finally plugged up my courage and got back behind the wheel with an instructor. As soon as I got into the car she showed me a photo of a fellow instructor who just got in a car crash with his student. The car was wrapped around a tree…. I need to shift gears- Bregje
In August 2010, Amsterdam’s 17th-century Canal Ring was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. ‘Sites are selected on the basis of having cultural, historical, scientific or some other form of significance, and they are legally protected by international treaties. UNESCO regards these sites as being important to the collective interests of humanity.’ But what about the heart and soul of Amsterdam!?
The identity of the Amsterdam culture is also determined by its residents. What really concerns me is that the balance between the amount of tourist and the residents of Amsterdam is really getting out of hand.
I developed an enormous allergy to a certain kind of tourist over the past few years. Some giveaways how to spot an obnoxious tourist. They wear ‘Amsterdam hats’, carrying Van Gogh Museum or Heineken gift boxes, wear their backpack in their front, ride and park their yellow rental MacBikes where ever they please, and get stoned and drunk all day, every day. Amsterdam is one of the biking capitals of the world and the Dutch are outstanding and experienced bikers. Unfortunately most tourist have never ridden a bike in their entire life and and therefore taking a ride of Doom on their rental bikes. Not to mention the pedestrians walking around like Amsterdam is as an open air museum, not paying attention to any kind of transportation.
The beer-bike tourists can be labeled as the most nuisance of all. Beer-bikes are huge pedal trucks for drinking party-crews. Aspecifically the kind that have decided their drunkenness would be even more awesome if broadcast to an entire city. This type of tourist like to show their appreciation for historic architecture mainly by urinating on it.
The presence of an overload of tourists in the city is an expense of the quality of life in neighborhoods, and it impacts the availability of affordable subsidised apartments. Amsterdam is overcrowded with tourists and forecasts show that this will only get worse.
Please do not rip out the heart and soul of my presious Amsterdam. -Bregje-