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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Why It's Deceptively Hard To Speak Good Dutch

Carolina has just proved , with her very clever poem on the two languages , that the Dutch are all fluent English speakers .

Which makes those of us who move to Holland lazy . Even after three years of Dutch lessons I , and my fellow students , were floundering . Our group included Polish art historians , Moroccan security guards , a Hungarian lecturer in Logistics , Somali nurses , a Brazilian Feng Shui expert and an assortment of women , myself included , who'd impulsively married a Dutchman and were now realising that learning to make Stampot and Pea Soup wasn't enough . We'd have to chat in Dutch too .

We from northern Europe realised that we shared shared a lot of words , our languages being related and influenced by one another . I , having grown up in Glasgow , found the word for light , "licht", perfectly easy . Kist and kerk made perfect sense . In fact Fresian's even easier to understand , though I'll never be able to speak it . The rest usually spoke reasonably good English . So we'd improvise .

When in doubt , say it loudly in English with a Dutch accent .

If you see what I mean . " Alle hens aan dek" , All hands on deck , of course .
Blindingly obvious .