Friday, March 24, 2006

If it ain't Dutch, it ain't much

I'd like to shout-out a little love to the Dutch royal family - specifically Princess Maxima. She is simultaneously an inspiration and a tough act to follow - she is Argentinian born (there is/was a lot of controversy about her father, who was part of the former nasty regime of Argentine President Jorge Rafael Videla) - but I restrict my comments here to her total command of the Dutch language. She speaks it *flawlessly* - no accent - nuthin'. And that is frickin' HARD...(granted, if there was a crown in my future I might learn pretty damn quick).

My husband (the Dutchman) is...Dutch. My Dutch is fairly good for an American midwesterner - it's restricted primarily to things like "I love you"; "May I please have some more cheese" and "You have a high pet-ability, babe" - basically key phrases that are fine at home and funny at Dutch parties - but they don't help me a bit when it comes to my mother-in-law (who I adore but whose English isn't extremely awesome - although it's a helluva lot more fluent than my Dutch!). Basically, I could probably buy a train ticket to Amsterdam, but I can't tell Dutch-mom a joke (and I got a lot of 'em).

So, the thing is, I heard about Maxima early on (besides the fact that she's a complete cutie-pie) she makes it hard for all foreign girlfriends/wives/partners to get away with not learning the language! My husband keeps saying that I don't NEED to learn it b/c it isn't really spoken outside the Netherlands - but then I see that blonde bombshell and I feel like I need to keep up with the Joneses - or with the House of Orange.

The hard part is, when I go into a store and try to whip out my "functional Dutch" skills - they realize very quickly that I can only really say "hello" and "how much?" - I can't say whether I want paper or plastic. Then they look at me like I'm crazy because most of them speak fantastic English - they're kind of like, "let's facilitate this whole shindig and move on, eh?" Also, (and this is a guilty, exhibitionist pleasure) - I LOVE being stared at when we speak English in the grocery store of the Dutchman's hometown. I'm not at all self-conscious about being American (probably b/c I almost have "Impeach Bush: Regime Change Starts At Home" tattooed on my forehead) and I dig the Dutch attention. Also, I feel like it explains why I basically look like a leprechaun compared to all of them (or should I say that I am "of petite stature"). They kind of nod and say, "oh, she's not Dutch - that's why she only comes up to my navel".

So, I periodically look into Dutch schools and I want to go over "the pond" to learn it - I know there are some really good Dutch-language schools run by nuns in Belgium (they teach both Flemish and Dutch) - it sounds rigorous, dedicated, and kinda kinky. Slap my ass and take me to the Nether-netherlands...

2 Comments:

At 6:25 PM, Blogger zk_06 said...

Damn it... you're right, but the language is HARD!!!

 
At 7:07 PM, Blogger medieval woman said...

hehe...do I sniff another non-Netherlandish person attached to a Nederlander?? :) It IS a hard language - especially the pronunciation! One old woman (actually, WWII vintage) told me I pronounce Dutch like a German - that's not good in many circles!! But she's right - German's much easier for an English-speaker to pronounce...

 

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