Friday, March 23, 2012

Learning English from a Dutch book?

So recently I finished reading a book called Voertaal: English. Then it also says on the cover. The sticky world of Dunglish and how to avoid it. It's a book written by an American who came to the Netherlands (his parents were dutch), thinking that all dutch people speak perfect English, which he goes on to say is not the case. They do speak pretty good English, but his goal is to help them speak even better English, by explaining some cultural meanings of phrases and things like that. But it's a collection of columns he wrote about English, for in a newspaper for Dutch people. This is the second of his books about English for Dutch people, and this one is geared towards Dutch professionals in a globalizing world. I really actually liked this book, I learned a few things about Dutch, but actually also some things about English! So I'm writing them down in my blog because if I write it down on a piece of paper it will clearly get lost. So I'm writing my favorite parts from the books (in mostly my own words) here on my blog. That's allowed, right? haha

I don't know if anyone has ever heard of Britain's wonderful invention of Cockney Rhyming slang, but I had truly never heard of it. Here are some sentences with Cockney English.
"Be careful on the apples and pears" and "She brought us some lovely April showers"
So in the first sentence you are expected to guess that apples and pears rhymes with stairs, therefore meaning be careful on the stairs. The second one is a bit more difficult, because you are then expected to know, April Showers bring may flowers, so this sentence is saying she brought a lovely bouquet of flowers. Now you try. What about, "How's the plates and dishes?" got it? Dishes= missus, so how's the wife? There are a few others listed in the book, but I think you get the point.

This one is about words, that we actually use incorrectly! Flammable is actually the correct term for things that can catch fire. Because inflammable actually means something can not catch fire. Another one is irregardless, which is not actually a proper word at all, because it has two negative parts, the prefix and the suffix, so the correct word is actually regardless. Then another article is kind of the same thing, but with malapropisms. Such as, to mess up 'for all intents and purposes'. People tend to say, 'for all intents of purposes' or 'for all intensive purposes'. I know I've done that before! Here are some more:
Something is patently obvious, not blatantly obvious
you touch base with someone, not basis or bases
problems are deep-seated not deep-seeded. (anyone know that one?!)
something strikes a chord not accord (knew that one haha)
if your assistant is required to be ready and waiting to be of service at all times, he or she is at your beck and call not beckoned all
Then this one I think you know, a business tycoon not typhoon.

Now this one made me really think. This one is about phrases that have been corrupted through time. He gives the corrupted phrase, and then also gives where it originated from. Here are some examples he gives. Spitting Image, that was the title of a TV program in Britain, which everyone knows means 'perfect likeness'. This phrase is a corruption, it originates in the 15th century, as spit and image. He goes on to say that hundreds of years ago if a boy looked just like his father, people would say he was 'the spit and image' of his father. Another good one is 'for all intensive purposes', the thing you are trying to say is 'for all intents and purposes'. He goes on to give others, but the other ones are very obvious I believe.

Well, I don't think there's any thing else I found funny in this book because the rest is basically grammar for Dutch people and things like I said in the beginning. I'm really bad at finishing blogs, and this one has been sitting here for a few weeks. But I'm finally done with it! But now I have to start on my Germany trip blog! Which I don't really feel like... :/ Bye!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Today is my brother's, Brian, Birthday. He turned 18 today and is now finally an adult. He got a brand new car for his birthday, A BMW none the less, and he is very happy about it. BUT, here's the kicker, HE CAN'T DRIVE IT YET. hahahaha. My Dutch mom and I have been making jokes all week about how when he gets his car, he will only sit and play in it, because he can't drive it. His driving exam is this week Thursday, and I'm not sure how much time after that he may drive it, but soon I imagine. It is a very nice car I must say. Nice looking car. So today all the family and friends came over and we had a very typical dutch birthday party.

Now, I know I have written a bunch of posts about Dutch birthday parties, but I think I really like the traditional Dutch birthday party. I read a book called the UnDutchables, and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before... But one of the things they talked about, is how long the parties go on for. And I must say, they really really do. The author made a joke that you are lucky if you get to leave before 12 pm. Luckily, this party started early afternoon, so most were gone after dinner. The last left about 9 o clock this evening. But dutch birthdays can be described with one word, Gezellig. And unfortunately for us english speakers, there is no such word to describe things. Although this word has translations, cozy, sociable, it's a word that we can't use the way the dutch do. Gezellig means... well it's like having a nice evening with friends. Its social, and enjoyable and everyone has a very nice time. That is gezellig. You say this word when you had a nice time with someone and you're leaving, you say it was 'Gezellig'. And dutch birthdays are just that, combined with being far too long.

Basically, everyone comes over for coffee and cake, which is always a sort of cream cake... I'm not really sure what we'd call it because what they call it literally translates into cream cake. haha. But it's a very nice tasting type of cakes. You usually buy a few, and get leftover cake always. So today, people came early, and just came at various times throughout the day. We had to keep moving furniture around to fit more chairs, but that's just what it comes down to. Everybody sitting together in a huge well, circle short formation just talking and drinking coffee or whatever. And it's kind of a nice tradition I think. You see all of your family and family friends in one time. It's kind of what we did for my birthday but on a much smaller scale and with much less food left over haha.

In other random news I lost my voice yesterday at dinner, and I'm not really sure why haha. And I signed up to give tutoring sessions, so now I have a girl in Havo 4, that I tutor in english once a week during one of my free periods which works out just perfectly. So yeah. I believe that is all of my news for now!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Observing Americans....

Okay so I must write about this before I forget it all. Last saturday( I wrote this as it was yesterday) we were out to dinner in Bergen Op Zoom, and near us was this table of Americans. So basically. well... you hear they are Americans. And they most certainly protected our lovely stereotype of being EXTREMELY LOUD. But so I spent almost the entire dinner trying to get up the courage to go talk to them.. which I eventually did. But in between this time, we were just kind of watching them... And now that I've learned how to eat in the proper dutch way with my fork in my left and knife in my right, I got to watch other Americans, and see if they eat the stereotypical way with fork in right, and that is all. AND GUESS WHAT! THEY DID!!! I was like, HENK, EVERYONE LOOK THEY'RE EATING WITH ONE HAND. So everyone looked and of course noticed that they were eating just with the fork, and not holding the knife! I find this entire encounter extremely hilarious, because you don't see that many Americans where we live, because it's not a huge city. But there's a GE in Bergen Op Zoom, and I want to say it's the largest General Electric in... Europe? I believe that is what Henk told me.

But so after I finally decided to go talk to them, well, this is how our conversation went. I asked where they were from, because you don't see a lot of Americans in this part of the Netherlands, and one of the ladies goes... you're also american! I think she was a bit drunk, because she was the loudest of all of them. But so turns out they were from Michigan, and the other couple at one point lived in Arlington! But we didn't get to the topic of work, or what they were doing here. But the couple from Michigan had just moved to the Netherlands, about the same time as I did, so roughly 6 months ago. The other couple has been living here for five years now! And that lady asked me how my dutch was going and I started talking to her, and she was very very impressed with my dutch and so was the other couple who have been here for the same amount of time as me. But the lady who has been here longer, I could really hear her accent when she spoke dutch. So I must brag and say that I think I have a better accent haha. But yeah they started asking oh, like where do you go to school, whats a typical school day for you like, what you're doing when you go home, and it was just really cool to talk to them and see what they think about the Netherlands compared to the US. The new couple was telling me how difficult it is to do anything! They were trying to buy shaving cream the other day and ended up buying deodorant. Which is really funny because over here, they have spray deodorant, in cans that look just like the shaving cream cans. So they must have figured oh yeah okay, this is shaving cream, and then went home... used it... got deodorant all over his face hahaha. It happens, but still funny.

I really enjoyed talking to the lady who has been here for five years. She agrees that the language is really beautiful and nicer sounding than german haha. But she loves it here just as much as I do I think. There's something different about the dutch people, more direct, but also much more relaxed. But it was just nice to hear like, that they moved from the States, and still love the Netherlands after five years. I don't know, I just really enjoyed talking to them and comparing view points with other Americans. haha

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Okay. English again, let's go. haha. I must say I find it increasingly more difficult to start out writing a blog post in english. But I must do it, even though I keep putting this off for longer and longer... So AUSTRIA! In Dutch it is Oosterijk, so that explains the title of this post. Well, not last week, but two weeks ago we were in Austria. We were in Nauders, which is what you see in this picture. It's a pretty small town very close to the ski...
oh my god what is this word in english... SLOPES. right. duhh. And we were a short bus ride away from this other set of slopes that was in Italy. So these are the mountains... I always heard how beautiful and amazing the mountains where over here, but honestly photos do not do justice to it at all. They're gorgeous. absolutely and completely gorgeous. I spent so much time just starring at them. And in the sun, oh goodness even more beautiful. Luckily the weather was very nice while we were there.
It was warm and sunny most days, and I mean, with all the ski clothes on it's almost hot! But my family was with another family, really good friends that we spent new years with, and other occasions. Brian's girlfriend also came with us. So it was really strange having to listen to German while I was there. But I am oh so glad that I did not end up in Germany. It's really an ugly language! It's really really disgusting how it sounds haha. I think Dutch is much more nicer to listen to than German. German sounds really harsh, and like they're angry all the time haha. But their food is still delicious! The food you eat up on the slopes is almost the same as what you can get below in the city. Cordon-Bleu, Kaiserschmarrn, Wiener schnitzel, spaghetti bolognese are very typical dishes that we ate lots of. So for those of you who (like me) had only heard of
Wiener schnitzel, it is very good. It's a sort of very thin meat with bread crumbs, but oh it's so good. And Kaiserschmarrn is even better! This is a sort of pancakes, cut up into pieces with powder sugar, and you can also eat it with applesauce. But I ate this almost every day it's sooo good. It's a funny name for something to eat though. Because Kaiser means Emperor in German, and Schmarrn means well, something along the lines of "Mismash".
So yeah, Emperor's mismash is what I ate in Austria. haha. But the above picture is all the ladies, minus the other family's younger child, when we went on a walk one day. If you have forgotten what I look like I'm the one in the purple, Brian's girlfriend is the one in the blue, Joke is my host mom in the Green, and she's next to Ingeborg, and then in the middle is her older daughter. And this is a picture of us skiing in Italy one day.
The bus ride is really only 15 minutes or so away. This is me and the younger daughter of Ingeborg, on the way to go ski in Italy. But so now I can also say I've been to Switzerland, because on the way home to the Netherlands we had to drive through Switzerland! Let's see... Well I must say that I find the mountains much, much steeper here than in America, but I hope to bring my parents back here one day to ski! This was also during Carnival, which is only celebrated in the south, but I'm planning to come back next year to celebrate that! Well, only if our February break is at the same time as it... but now I'm starting to lose focus in this blog which means I have nothing else left to say! So, until the next blog! Which will be soon I think...