Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ten Things You Don't Know about The Netherlands and the Dutch Until You Move Here (Part 2)

Photo: (c) Amanda van Mulligen
The typical Dutch stereotype consists of cheese eating, clog wearing tall people talking a dialect of German with a backdrop of windmills sailing round on the flatlands. However, there is much more to this small country and the people who live in it than the rest of the world thinks. Here's the second part of a series on things you don't necessarily know about the Dutch and their country until you move here.

3. The Dutch Don't Mince Their Words
The idea of a bumbling Brit trying to politely make his point heard is an alien concept to the Dutch who say what they mean and think nothing of it. It is not rudeness, it's simply honesty. A good example given by many expats is the Dutch reluctance to wrap up the message of "That dress doesn't suit you" or "That haircut is a disaster" whereas an American or Brit would tackle it a little more tactfully - if they'd do anything more than nod appreciatively and then bitch about it when they get home. At least you get to hear the truth.....

4. The Dutch Language is Actually Distinctive
I remember being on holiday in Turkey as a teenager, standing in line for one attraction or another in front of a group of foreign speaking tourists. It sounded, simply put, like a strange German dialect. Now I live here, I realise it really is a very different language to that of our neighbours in the east. I could certainly pick it out of a line up now.

Dutch is also a Germanic language (West Germanic to be precise) and whilst it has similarities to German, it also has word origins in common with English. Many Dutch have no issues speaking the German language but the same is not true the other way around.

Dutch is much less harsh when spoken, and I think a little more poetic than German. And besides, if I repeated my thoughts from my teenage years I may find myself homeless.......

5 comments:

Amanda said...

"Dutch don't mince words." Ain't that the truth. I actually find this straightforward way of speaking refreshing, even if I can't escape my own bumbling American tendencies. I do find that the Dutch people I know won't go out of their way to tell me that a haircut doesn't suit, etc. Instead they'll be honest if I ask. "Be honest or say nothing at all" perhaps. :)

Invader_Stu said...

I am more than familiar with the 'Dutch don't mince words' concept. I like the honesty but sometimes it can be a surprise.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this very true but often it's more than just being straighforward. They have an incredible yet understated command of languages and use it for various effects. For example I was once in a cafe and the waitress said to me "Do you wear sunglasses". I said yes and asked why she asked. She said "Because around your eyes is white but the rest of your face is tanned". I said "Does it look bad?". She said "No, it looks funny".

Vincent Harris said...

It can be refreshing, if humor is added. Often it's just blunt or "bot" I would say.

Anita Kalmane said...

Hehe, actually it's one of the things I like in the Netherlands - Dutch being straightforward and saying what do they think. In the last years I got tired of people saying "it fits you" and "I miss talking to you" and similar stuff out of simply being polite. At least with Dutch you know - they will never exaggerate how much they care about you. And that's appreciated.