środa, 6 lutego 2013

Secrets of the Dutch speech: watch out for english!

One of the things, that makes life of a freshman expat in the Netherlands easier is the fact, that almost everyone here speaks English. Good or bad, but they do. Thanks to that you don't feel excluded from an everyday life and you don't have to worry about going to a shop, bakery, hairdresser, doctor, the city hall, bank or meeting your neighbor in an elevator. The problem appears, when you start learning the language. At the beginning you might often notice, that while you're struggling to make an effort and actually say something in (a very broken) Dutch, your interlocutor (hearing your misery and weird foreign accent) is gonna rush to end your suffering and he/she'll answer you... in English! And how am I supposed to practise my Dutch?

It's even worse if you're gonna mix both of these languages at the same time. This is exactly how I once in a restauratnt instead of ordering still (non sparkling) water told the waitress to keep quiet (in Dutch "still!" means "quiet!"). I also found it very confusing for the first few times, when I heard Maurice answering his phone. His friends were calling and he picked up with "Hi! Who is it?"... I didn't know what's going on. "Who is it?"!?! Why are you asking that? You know very well who is calling you... you just said his name! At that time I didn't know yet, that what he actually asked was: "Hoe is 't?" (sounds exactly the same as "who is it") that means... "How are you?/How's it going?"

In the Dutch language there's quite a lot of words that sound similar to English and they often have of course the same meaning. However there's few traps, because though the might sound the same, they mean something completly different. And than it's very easy to make faux pas. Just imagine to confuse "dear" with dier (an animal), "bill" with bil (buttock), heet ("to be named" or "hot") with "hate" or fok (to breed) with... "fuck". These are so called "false friends". 

False or not, some people actually really like them. My teacher lately told us about one of her former students from US. That girl just loved two Dutch words. Though she was overweight in the Netherlands she could easly say: "Ik ben slim" ("I'm smart") and if she'd bumped in to someone by an accident she'd apologise with: "Sorry, hoor!". Now "hoor" basicly means "listen", but in this context it would make more less "I'm sorry, really!". The trick is: it sound the same as "whore"! And you'd think she's such a nice and innocent girl ;)

2 komentarze:

  1. Hahaha.. funny to imagine the waitress thought you asked her to shut up! :P
    I have the same with Hoe is 't and who hate u! Also, I took forever to remember "Ik Wil" is not I WILL! :)

    1. Somehow every time we go to that restaurant I unintendedly kinda insult a waitress... last time I was correcting a Chinese-looking girl about the Chinese calendar (later it felt wrong, but she was really talking bullshit). oh the lovely "ik wil"...haha I also struggled with this one for long ;)


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