Bien plus heureuxI love my country!
I love explaining stuff to people!
I love my fellow tropers! So, I thought it would be mighty fun to explain stuff about my country to my fellow tropers. Which is what I will do here. I posted this in OTC because I don't want this thread to be overrun by ponies and/or personal in-jokes, which seems to happen to just about every thread in Yack Fest... Anyway, I already made a Useful Notes page about the bizarre phenomenon of Pillarisation, as well as a page for the classical Dutch novel, Max Havelaar. And then there's these three posts in the "European political attitudes" thread, in which I deliver a long, somewhat biased, but hopefully interesting lecture on the Dutch political scene. I also intend to make Useful Notes pages for our educational and political systems, when I get round to it. In the meantime, there's this thread, in which I will shed some light on various little quirks of our language, culture and society. So stay tuned for the first episode of MR:EDS!
edited 5th Feb '12 3:53:02 PM by BestOf
Bien plus heureuxIt's... MR:EDS!
Ep. 1 It Giet Oan! The Dutch and Ice SkatingAs I write, the outside temperature in most places in the Netherlands is below (or perhaps just above) freezing point. This is a rare occurence; it varies slightly depending on where in the country you are, but generally speaking, we're lucky if we have two weeks of frost a year. That's a temperate climate for ya... Anyway, we treasure these short periods of wintry weather. They allow us to practise one of our national hobbies: ice skating. Our fondness for ice skating is much Older Than Steam, dating back at least to the Dutch Golden Age, as seen in the paintings of Hendrick Avercamp. Wherever you are in the Netherlands, you're never far from a small body of water and after a few days of frost, these bodies of water turn into tiny public parks. People of all ages and backgrounds go out onto the ice to skate, play, and generally have a good time. There are fanatical sportsmen who skate lap after lap, but also people who are just fooling around with or without skates on. Some children will play a basic form of ice hockey, the same way they play football/soccer in the park in summer. It's quite beautiful to see a frozen-over singel * full of people; in an age of ever-increasing commercialisation and professionalisation, ice skating is one of the last truly public, spontaneous forms of entertainment. Nobody owns the ice. There is nothing to organise and nothing to sponsor. There are no rules, and no security guards to throw you off the ice if you break them. There are no forms to fill in, entrance fees to pay, or lines to wait in. You just go out onto the ice and enjoy yourself. [/gush] Besides this innocent public recreation, there are quite a few serious skating races that are held on rivers and small lakes. And whenever the temperature is below freezing point for a few days in a row, the first question that enters the minds of many Dutchmen is: 'Will we have an Eleven Cities Tour this year?' The Eleven Cities Tour (Elfstedentocht in Dutch; Alvestκdetocht in Frisian) is a 200-kilometre skating tour between eleven cities in the Dutch province of Frisia (Friesland, Fryslβn). The Tour is only held when the "Eleven Cities Committee", which organises it, thinks the ice along the entire course is strong enough to support the thousands of skaters who will take part. There have been fifteen Tours so far the first in 1909, the last in 1997. It giet oan! is a Frisian Catch Phrase * that roughly translates to 'It's going to happen!' or 'We're going through with it!' It is one of several phrases that have historically been used to announce the "Tour of Tours" (Dutch: Tocht der Tochten), as it is often called. And the last few days, everyone has been spouting that phrase gratuitously. The slightest chance of a Tour means that for a week or so, you'll hear about nothing else in the media or in casual conversation. Massacres in Syria? Chaos in Greece? Twelve-digit sums of money being thrown around in a desperate attempt to save the Euro as a currency? Boring! All we're really interested in is whether the ice near this-and-this village is thick enough yet. Many people (especially in the intelligentsia) scoff at this Elfstedenkoorts ('Eleven Cities Fever') and at the provincialism and kitschy nostalgia associated with it - but secretly, they're hoping for a Tour just like everyone else. Anyway, tonight, the Eleven Cities Committee announced that they're not going to cry It giet oan! any time soon. Better luck next year! Oh, and there are some interesting Dutch expressions related to ice skating, such as zich op glad ijs wagen 'to (dare to) go onto slippery ice'. This roughly means 'to enter or start a discussion on a topic about which you know very little'. Its polar opposite is beslagen ten ijs komen 'to go onto the ice well-equipped'. This means that you are well prepared for whatever it is you're doing or discussing. It usually refers to knowledge and training, rarely to physical equipment. Then there's het kan vriezen of het kan dooien 'it may freeze or it may thaw', as in 'the temperature may be below or above zero degrees Celsius'. This is said of things that vary more or less randomly and are hard to predict, often with an undertone of 'don't worry about it too much'. Een scheve schaats rijden 'to skate on a crooked skate' refers to scandalous behaviour, usually sexual in nature. Note that this is a rather mild expression: it's appropriate to say this about a businessman who has an affair with his much younger secretary, but you definitely don't say it about a rapist or a paedophile. We also have a specific word for a hole (or a dangerously thin spot) in the ice: wak. Falling into a wak will lead to soaked clothes if you're lucky and a horrible death if you're unlucky. So watch where you skate, if you want to be around for the next episode of MR:EDS!
edited 9th Feb '12 6:54:26 AM by MidnightRambler
War ALWAYS changes. Man does not.Nice. Keep going, I never knew a tenth of that stuff.
Euo will do!Where, oh where, were oliebollen on that list of God's own creations? Although, I call 'em vetkoek, myself. And crave them fresh and hot stuffed with mutton or beef curry and a carton of guava juice... <drools> LEKKER! For those who don't know: here. If you think you know how to use pancake mix — the Netherlands beat you to it centuries ago.
edited 9th Feb '12 6:23:27 PM by Euodiachloris
Bien plus heureuxYeah, pancakes were mentioned in my history book at school as one of the principal Dutch meals in the 17th century. Anyway, what you're talking about is more a South African thing... I've never heard of these "curry bunnies". As for oliebollen (oil balls), they're simply deep-fried balls of dough, often with raisins in them. In the Netherlands, they're sold during the months of November and December, and are particularly associated with New Year's Eve. These deliciously greasy snacks are usually eaten with iced sugar on top.
edited 10th Feb '12 7:30:44 AM by MidnightRambler
Raboche-Troperskaya Krasnaya ArmiyaSounds similar to doughnut holes.
edited 10th Feb '12 7:40:38 AM by Balmung
Euo will do!Sorry, I wasn't very clear. (I'm good at that, unfortunately). I should have said that oliebollen and/or vetkoek come in sweet and savoury. Another South African standardisation is the famous sugar-and-cinnamon vetkoek, as well as the aforementioned raisoned-beyond-reason style. There's also the Bar One (Mars Bar) vetkoek - does what it says on the tin. Or the equally famous whatever-leftovers-need-eating-up vetkoek. In short: it's up to you what you put in it. I just happen to crave the curry bunny style. And, yes — they are a bit like a doughnut. If you do some squinting. Modern Dutch oliebollen, yes, do come only in sweet. But, not historically — they did come in both. South Africa kept that. Sorry. Again, I wasn't clear.
edited 10th Feb '12 12:28:56 PM by Euodiachloris
Bien plus heureux
Sorry, I wasn't very clear. (I'm good at that, unfortunately). I should have said that oliebollen and/or vetkoek come in sweet and savoury.Again, that's South African, not Dutch. In the Netherlands, the savoury variety is unheard of, as is the name vetkoek.
Raboche-Troperskaya Krasnaya ArmiyaWell, I did say doughnut holes for a reason (doughnut holes (I'm working on the assumption that doughnut holes aren't terribly common outside of the US) are also balls of fried dough that are also usually coated insome form of sugar, so I imagine they'd look more similar than regular dughnuts).
edited 10th Feb '12 12:29:40 PM by Balmung
Euo will do!Willing to bet they come from the same roots as New York, eh? Whoops — should have said New Amsterdam.
edited 10th Feb '12 12:34:36 PM by Euodiachloris
Bien plus heureuxIt's... MR:EDS!
Ep. 2 Protocol Peril: Forms of AddressThe Dutch people have a long-standing and well-deserved reputation for not caring very much about formality or politeness. Nonetheless, Dutch, like most European languages, has two forms of the pronoun 'you' denoting different levels of formality. In French, it's tu and vous; in German, it's du and Sie; and in Dutch, it's jij and u. So when do you use which form? The rule of thumb is simple: jij is for people with whom you're on a first-name basis, and u for people with whom you're on a last-name basis and for strangers. Children are never called u; teens sometimes are by young children who mistake them for adults. Adolescents (as in 18-25) are somewhat of a gray area; they're usually called jij by strangers, but sometimes u, depending on the context and on the attitude (and age) of the person addressing them. Either way, don't expect anyone to call you by your last name until you're in your late twenties. For relatives, it varies from family to family. Anyone in your generation (siblings, cousins) or lower (children, nephews, nieces...) is always jij. It's with those above you in the family tree (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles...) that it really gets interesting. Most Dutch children will call their parents jij, but some who were raised more conservatively may use u. And then there are those who call their parents jij but their grandparents u... To illustrate how this can vary, I address my grandmother (and all my other relatives) as jij, but my cousins call her u. Apparently, my aunt has different ideas on proper forms of address than my dad. Grandma herself doesn't care, by the way. Dutch people speaking German may sometimes come across as impolite, because German often uses the formal Sie in situations where jij would be used in Dutch. Now, u is an easy pronoun to learn: it's the same no matter how it's used, or whether it's singular or plural. (The associated possessive pronoun is uw). Jij is... a bit more complicated. You know how English personal pronouns have different forms depending on their role in a sentence? There's 'I' and 'me', 'he' and 'him', 'she' and 'her', 'we' and 'us', 'they' and 'them'... the odd man out is 'you', which remains 'you' no matter how you use it. In Dutch, jij does have a second form, jou: Jij sloeg Willem. You hit William.
Willem sloeg jou. William hit you. The possessive pronoun is jouw. And here's the catch: jij, jou and jouw all have the same "shortened" form, je. Needless to say, this can be very confusing because you can't tell which of the three it is. The general rule is that you always use je unless you want to emphasise that you're referring specifically to the person you're talking to: Je doet het geweldig. You're doing a great job.
Jij doet het geweldig. You're doing a great job. (subtext: it's not your fault things are going downhill) Er is post voor je. There's mail for you.
Er is post voor jou. There's mail for you. (subtext: of all people!) Hoe is het met je vrouw? How is your wife doing?
Hoe is het met jouw vrouw? How is your wife doing? (subtext: we've just talked about mine) These are only a few examples, and the subtext, of course, depends heavily on context, but you get the idea. Using jij, jou or jouw where you should use je will make your Dutch sound very stilted and clumsy. Oh, and jij, jou, jouw and je are singular only. The plural form of all four is jullie. Moving on from the horrible, inconsistent mess of Dutch personal pronouns... Like French, Dutch has no separate forms for addressing someone with or without his name: if you're talking to meneer Jansen (Mr. Johnson), you call him meneer (sir). The female version is mevrouw. Meneer and mevrouw are also used as polite words for 'man' and 'woman' when you're talking to a child compare English 'lady': Vraag het maar aan die mevrouw daar. Go ask that lady over there.
Morgen komt er een meneer van het elektriciteitsbedrijf. A man from the power company will come over tomorrow. A more formal form of meneer is de heer ('the gentleman'); this form is only used to refer to someone, not to address them. 'Dear Sir/Madam...' translates as Geachte heer, mevrouw...; 'ladies and gentlemen' is dames en heren. In writing, the abbreviations dhr. and mevr. or mw. are often used: dhr. Jansen -> de heer Jansen -> meneer Jansen -> Mr. Johnson
mevr. Jansen -> mevrouw Jansen -> Ms. Johnson
mw. Jansen -> mevrouw Jansen -> Ms. Johnson The dimunitive forms meneertje and mevrouwtje ('little mister', 'little madam') are informal and very condescending. Calling someone meneertje roughly says, 'I'm not taking you seriously because you're much less important than you think you are'; mevrouwtje says, 'I'm not taking you seriously because you're a woman.' Meneertje is appropriate (if somewhat old-fashioned) when talking to a Bratty Half-Pint; when talking to an adult, it will come off as a crude attempt to sound intimidating. Mevrouwtje is never appropriate because of its sexist connotations. There is no such thing as Ma'am Shock in the Netherlands; although officially, we do still have a separate form of address for unmarried women (juffrouw), it is very archaic, and using it will immediately mark you as behind the times (about five to six decades behind, to be specific), eccentric or, in some contexts, rude. Contrast this with French mademoiselle and English 'miss', which are still widely used to refer to young and/or unmarried women. Juffrouw survives, however, as the inofficial title for female primary-school teachers; when used this way, it is often shortened to juf. Its Spear Counterpart is meester ('master'). In primary school, you call the teacher by their first name. Thus, a woman named Iris Bakker will be called juf Iris if she's a primary-school teacher, and mevrouw Bakker if she's a secondary-school teacher. For her brother Hans, this would be meester Hans and meneer Bakker, respectively. Oh, and we never use academic titles unless they're relevant to the matter at hand, and even then we use them sparingly. University students will address their teachers as meneer and mevrouw rather than by their academic titles; an exception is sometimes (emphasis on "sometimes") made for professor, but never for the "lesser" titles like doctor (PhD) or doctorandus (MSc/MA). Well, dames en heren, that's all for tonight. Stay tuned for the third episode of MR:EDS!
edited 18th Jan '13 10:10:22 AM by MidnightRambler
Bien plus heureuxNOTICE: As I'm very busy with other stuff this week, it may take some time before the next episode of MR:EDS gets up. I've got spring break next week, though, so then I'll have plenty of time to explain more things about my lovely little country!
edited 21st Feb '12 10:38:58 AM by MidnightRambler
Bien plus heureuxIt's... MR:EDS!
Ep. 3 Go and Contract Tuberculosis! Dutch ProfanityDutch people swear. A lot. We're quite relaxed about it, too; Sound Effect Bleeps are unheard of in our country, and we never use those f**kin ast*r*sks, either. One peculiar thing about Dutch profanity is the phenomenon of 'swearing with diseases' (schelden met ziektes). The names of many diseases often infectious ones which wroke havoc upon the land in earlier ages are commonly used as swear words. Some of the most common ones are: pokken Smallpox
pest Black Death
tyfus Umbrella term for typhus, typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever
klere Cholera, but only when used as a swear word; when actually talking about the disease, it's simply cholera.
tering Tuberculosis, but only when used as a swear word; when actually talking about the disease, it's tuberculose or just tbc. A special place is reserved for kanker (cancer). A good rule to follow when speaking Dutch is to NEVER say this unless you're actually talking about the disease. Kanker is the only swear word Dutch people do get squeamish about (unless they're religious more about that later); more sensitive people might genuinely be offended, especially if they've lost loved ones to cancer, and the rest of us will just consider it a sign of extremely bad manners. Seriously, don't do it. Anyway, let's look at the many colourful ways in which the Dutch can swear with a disease. We'll take tyfus as an example: Expletive: Tyfus!
English equivalent: 'Shit!' Insult: Tyfuslijer! 'Typhus sufferer!'
English equivalent: 'Asshole!'
Note that 'typhus sufferer' would properly be spelled tyfuslijder the D is dropped out in informal speech. Dismissal: Krijg de tyfus! 'Go and contract typhus!'
English equivalent: 'Go to hell!' Prefix: Wat een tyfusweer! 'What a typhus-weather!'
English equivalent: 'Fucking terrible weather!'
Note that when used as a prefix, a disease can also "amplify" other swear words for example, mongool (retard) can become tyfusmongool or teringmongool if you're really, really angry with the person on the receiving end. Another all-purpose cuss word is kut (cunt). We use it as a low-grade expletive all the time, as a prefix, and as an adjective: where English speakers would say that something 'sucks', we say that it is kut. As the Country Matters article duly notes:
In the Dutch language, in particular, it's considered mostly harmless: you're having a cunt day when there's cunt weather outside and the cunt dog ate your cunt homework, which is, as the Dutch say with heartfelt compassion, "cunt for you".Also, like any European language, Dutch has a lot of religious profanity. This is known as vloeken (cursing); interestingly, there is a Bond tegen het Vloeken (Anti-Cursing League), mostly consisting of orthodox Protestants, which campaigns against religiously-inspired swearing. They're mostly seen as a harmless curiosity, but what is intriguing (and a little scary) about them is their huge budget: their billboards appear in railway stations and other prominent locations all the time. Anyway, we have a direct equivalent to the English phrase 'God damn it': godverdomme. This is a shortened version of God verdoem mij, which translates to 'God doom me', but nobody ever uses this "full" version. Quite the contrary, godverdomme is often shortened further to verdomme or godver. Godver, interestingly, can be glued to other swear words using the suffix -de-: thus, we get such gems as godverdetyfus and godverdekut. It is not unheard of for a really angry Dutchman to create an infinite loop of godverdegodverdegodverdegodver. Godverdomme and godver are both quite heavy expletives, to be used with care; verdomme is somewhat lighter, but not all that much. Over the centuries, we've been very creative with Gosh Darn It to Heck! versions of godverdomme: we have verdorie, verdulleme, and a hundred other varieties with which I won't tire you. One interesting note, though, is that gedverdemme, gadverdamme, gedver and gadver, which also started out as Gosh Darn It to Heck! varieties of godverdomme, now mean 'Ew!' or 'Yuck!' Oh, and then there's godsammekrake, usually shortened to godsamme this comes from God zal mij kraken ('God will crack me'). Godsamme is considered a lighter alternative to godverdomme. And that's not the end of our "sacred profanity", of course: we have many other religious expletives, including godallemachtig (from God almachtig 'God almighty') and Jezus Christus (take a wild guess). On a final note, English expletives like 'fuck' and 'shit', which have been adopted into Dutch, are considered much less "heavy" in Dutch than in English. So if you're wondering why your Dutch friend is swearing like a sailor, he probably Did Not Do the Bloody Research and doesn't grasp the weight of these expletives in their native language (I learned this the hard way when on holiday in Canada at age 14). Jezus, this tering-article is already finished again! There will be another MR:EDS somewhere in the foreseeable future, but I can't tell exactly when, so I won't ask you to "stay tuned" this time. When that time comes, this thread will pop to the top of OTC anyway.
edited 4th Jun '12 6:39:25 AM by MidnightRambler
Bien plus heureuxIt's... MR:EDS!
Ep. 4 Don't Mention the War! The Netherlands and World War IIToday is Liberation Day, so I thought I'd do an episode on World War II, how it affected our country and how we commemorate it. First, the basics: the Netherlands were invaded by German forces in the early morning of May 10, 1940. The country was overrun within five days, and remained under German occupation until shortly before the end of the war. Queen Wilhelmina and her ministers went into exile in London. In 1942, the Dutch East Indies were seized by the Japanese, who controlled them until the end of the war. I shall explain the rest by means of an alphabetical list of key concepts; for each term, I shall provide a literal translation as well as an explanation and context. Feel free to casually browse this list.
edited 4th May '13 3:06:23 PM by MidnightRambler
Bien plus heureuxIt's... MR:EDS!
Ep. 5 Wat is het hier gezellig! Translating the UntranslatableDescribe gezelligheid here. ...Yeah, good luck with that. The Dutch adjective/adverb gezellig and its associated noun gezelligheid are notorious for being impossible to translate into most languages (German being one notable exception). And it's not only direct translation that's difficult: the entire concept of gezelligheid mystifies many foreigners, and even immigrants who have lived here for several years. This post is one of many attempts that have been made, with varying degrees of success, to explain this concept, which is essential to social life in the Netherlands. So essential, in fact, that it might be said that gezelligheid is what all true Dutchmen strive for. Gezellig is derived from gezel, an old-fashioned word for 'companion'. The Van Dale Dutch - English Dictionary gives a long and confusing entry for gezellig, which starts with 'pleasant, enjoyable'. This is rather vague; sure, gezellig does mean that something is pleasant or enjoyable, but there's more to it than that. It's best explained by means of a list of characteristics rather than any single definition:
edited 20th Jun '12 6:15:37 PM by MidnightRambler
An English equivalent for "gezellig"... "cosy", maybe? They share quite a few connotations. By the way, your articles are godverdomme brilliant.
edited 27th Jun '12 3:55:48 PM by Fresison
Plus est en vous
Bien plus heureuxGezellig has overlap with "cosy", but it's not quite the same. "Cosy" would be more accurately translated as knus. (In the Netherlands, that is; I have no idea of the connotations in Belgium). And thanks! I love doing this.
edited 27th Jun '12 4:59:34 PM by MidnightRambler
That was an interesting point about how some words just don't translate exactly, ever, into other languages. Kind of reminds me of the word schadenfreude in that respect. The concept can be described, but it ends up needing a paragraph to do so.
Euo will do!Actually, Midnight, "cozy" is a very close translation: check out some of the synonyms. Coziness is also good for gezelligheid. Another possibility in English is to go for the better understood second meaning of "comfort" and "comforting", however, to my mind, "comfort" isn't precise, either. <shrugs> Mind you, you're probably going to say I miss nuances due to only speaking Afrikaans... <sighs>
Bien plus heureuxSchadenfreude is easy. 'Amusement from other people's misfortune'. I see where you're coming from, and "cosy" covers some forms of gezelligheid, but not the entire spectrum. It's really hard to explain, but... well, would you call a Drinking Game like Kings * or I Never "cosy"? Well, with the right people, games like those can be very gezellig indeed. Basically, the "fun involving other people" definition applies. Note: I said a sports match couldn't be gezellig. This isn't entirely accurate. It's true that any enjoyment the players derive from the match itself does not fall under gezelligheid; however, if they talk and/or share laughs during play, that can certainly be called gezellig.
edited 27th Jun '12 6:56:19 PM by MidnightRambler
Euo will do!Northern English idiom would have games like that in a pub be cozy, actually. Particularly in a snug. Southern English? Not so much. Not so sure about American English. It's a poser. South African English dodges that and uses jol for some of the lively aspects, and actually, sometimes, gesellig itself. Well, those with a solid grounding in Afrikaans. Jol has got there even if not and has taken on a lot of the meaning, in the English use at least, that gesellig has. That's also bleeding back into Afrikaans, so gesellig is losing some of it's "party, fun-time, with friends, sociable geniality (with lots of booze)" feel and becoming a little more grown-up, but, not entirely, of course. Oh: and other South African languages have taken jol on board. Just thought I'd say. Ja, South Africa likes to swap it's words around. To be honest, I don't think there is an easy translation. Just as trying to translate lekker gets bogged down.
edited 27th Jun '12 10:41:36 PM by Euodiachloris
Bien plus heureux*Sigh*... All right, all right. Refer to post #15 above for detailed explanation of "gezelligheid". Call it whatever the fuck you want. Everybody happy now?
edited 28th Jun '12 12:40:25 AM by MidnightRambler
There is actually a Dutch word for "schadenfreude": "leedvermaak". Just throwing that in as a funny fact.
If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
Bien plus heureuxOh yes, that definitely exists. That's why we have so few loanwords from German: we already have our own equivalents for them anyway. English needs to borrow words like Zeitgeist and Schadenfreude from German, but why should we bother? We already have tijdgeest and leedvermaak, respectively. We do, however, have a lot of loanwords from French. Oh boy, do we have a lot of loanwords from French. From chef (chief, manager) and douche (shower) to monteur (technician) and faillissement (bankruptcy)... the list is endless. Probably has something to do with it having been the preferred language of the upper classes from the Middle Ages to sometime in the 19th century (and in some circles, well into the 20th).
edited 28th Jun '12 3:56:12 AM by MidnightRambler
Euo will do!Is it gauche for me to point out that tijdgeest is a direct translation? <ducks the tomatoes> Leedvermaak... not so much. Oh, it does my heart good to see double As in the right places. Even if I'm used to turning Zs to Ss. Look, it's not my fault I grew up with Ss for Zs, OK?
edited 28th Jun '12 7:53:41 AM by Euodiachloris
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