Thursday, October 27, 2011

Learning the Language

One of the biggest adjustments when moving to a new country is of course the language and the Dutch language is a bit confusing to say the least! Over the last 6 months I have picked up enough Dutch to have a short conversation with a 5 year old and to answer simple questions such as "Do you want a receipt?". This is because most of my Dutch has come from the children my daughter plays with (who don't speak English) and from cashiers in the shops.

There are many problems with trying to learn Dutch, one being that most Dutch are fluent in English. If you manage to stutter out a sentence in Dutch they will quickly respond in almost perfect English making you feel a bit like an idiot. I have also been told that they are very happy to show off there English skills so will rarely respond to you in Dutch even if you continue speaking it. There are also several confusing aspects of the language, for example the order in which thing are said. An example of this is "Ik zie dat de ouders de kinderen Jan het huis hebben laten helpen schilderen" which word for word translates to "I see that the parents the children John the house have let help paint" but means "I see that the parents have let the children help John paint the house". Really?!? Another confusing issue is that sometimes many smaller words will be strung together to form one very long word. An example of this is the word telefoonbeantwoordapparaat. Yep, that's one word and it means telephone answering machine. Again, really?!? This doesn't even start to get into all of the other issues, like the way multiple digit numbers are said mostly backwards, the feminine and masculine forms of words or the multiple words used for "the", etc. The language is so difficult that during World War II to determine if someone was a spy in The Netherlands they would ask an individual to pronounce certain Dutch words. Only a true Dutchman could pronounce them correctly.

Although difficult we want to continue to learn the language. My husband has enrolled in a weekly class offered by his employer and we have even picked up some study materials.

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