27 June, 2007

Language Week 2007: Nederlands

Mensen lachen mij altijd uit als ik zeg dat Nederlands voor mij de "taal der liefde" is. En waarschijnlijk terecht-- het kan inderdaad een beetje hard klinken. Maar zodra ik M ontmoete wist ik dat wij bij elkaar hoorden en wilde ik hem in zijn eigen taal leren kennen. Ik heb een paar jaar les gevolgd en toen wij in 1996 naar Vlaanderen verhuisden hebben wij besloten geen woord Engels meer met elkaar te praten. echt. Het. was. een. HEL!

Maar op de ene of andere manier hebben wij het overleefd, en binnen zes maanden spraak ik vloeiend Nederlands. Ik heb zelfs twee kinderen in het Nederlands ter wereld gebracht-- de ultieme test. Probeer maar een keer een ruggenprik in een vreemde taal te eisen, dan weet je pas of je ECHT vloeiend bent.

Nederlands is voor mij heel vertrouwd en ik kan mijn gedachten goed overbrengen. Ik kan grappig, geestig en ook knap irritant zijn. Maar ik blijf altijd de echte Betsy als ik Nederlands spreek; iets wat ik nog niet met Duits kan zeggen.

De laatste tijd haal ik steeds Duits en Nederlands door elkaar-- vreselijk! M'n schoonbroer heeft me gezegd dat mijn emails klinken alsof ze door Prins Bernhard werden geschreven. ;-) Hopelijk met wat oefening zal ik snel beter worden met van de ene taal naar de andere overschakelen. Maar Nederlands blijft voor mij een grote liefde. Net zoals M.


People tend to laugh at me when I tell them I think of Dutch as the "language of love". And they're probably justified-- it can sound a bit harsh. But the moment I met M I knew we belonged together and wanted to get to know him in his own language. I took a couple of years of language lessons and when we moved to Flanders (Belgium) in 1996 we decided not to speak a single word of English to each other ever again. Really. It. was. sheer. HELL.

But somehow or another we survived and within six months I was fluent. I even bore two children in Dutch, which was the ultimate test. Just try to demand an epidural in a foreign language-- it's only then that you know you're truly fluent.

Dutch is very familiar for me and I can express my thoughts freely. I can be witty, funny as well as irritating. But I'm always Betsy, a feat that I still cannot claim in German.

Recently I've been mixing up Dutch and Deutsch. My brother-in-law has said my emails sometimes sound like they were written by Prince Bernhard. ;-) Hopefully with some practice I'll become better at switching back and forth between the two languages. But Dutch remains a great love for me. And so does M...


Goofball said...

Very good, I got every word of that as well ;). But I find it somehow weird to read your blog in Dutch.

So what other languages will you come up with this week? I am curious.

srah said...

Thanks for participating! I love the way Dutch sounds. I can't understand a word of it, but I love it!

christina said...

That's so cool! I'm always surprised how much written Dutch I can understand through knowing both English and German and I actually got almost everything you wrote. But when it comes to speaking or understanding what someone says in Dutch, forget it, because I've never studied the pronunciation.

When I moved to Germany my husband and I immediately switched to German and speak German to each other to this day. VERY helpful in learning a language, as you found out.

Regarding your other post - your German is coming along great!

swissmiss said...

I've never been able to speak German with R unless we're in a social setting that is dominantly German-speaking. We've tried and tried (and finally stopped trying), but it feels so odd to us, well, probably mostly to me - we met and got to know each other in English and I feel like a different couple when we speak German. It's been great for his English and less good for my German. I'm impressed by you and Mausi.

I did, however, do labor and delivery in German. And IVF. That was a test of my language skills!

(Like Christina I find that I can understand a lot of written Dutch if I'm patient, and R understands a lot of spoken Dutch because it's similar to Dialekt. He has a Belgian friend who prefers that Swiss speak Dialekt to him over German - he says it's easier to figure out.)

Betsy said...

Goofball Tomorrow is Flemish, a whole different animal! ;-)

srah I'm enjoying participtating-- both posting and reading what others have posted. Thanks for initiating this!

Christina If you had a chance to hear Dutch more often you would pick it up very quickly. The grammar is a bit less complicated than German and your German / English combination would make it a snap for you.

I've heard often that it's easy for German speakers to learn Dutch but not so easy for Dutch speakers to learn German...

(oh, and thanks for the compliment! I need all the positive reinforcement I can get at the moment!!! :-) )

Swissmiss I know exactly what you mean. You get to know someone in a language and in a way it defines your dynamic. Anything else seems forced somehow.

We definitely had that in the beginning when we switched. And on top of that I had the frustrations of not being able to express myself in an articulate way.

And it didn't always help that (at my request) M was always correcting my grammar, pronunciation, etc. (sometimes he even did it during our rare arguments. that didn't exactly go over well.)

The first six months were really difficult but then it just sort of "clicked". And now we've got the other side of the coin-- we know each other so well in Dutch that it can seem strange in situations when we need to speak English with each other.

We've got some American neighbors with whom we're spending a lot of time. And M's English is excellent-- it seems perfectly natural for him to speak English with them but then when he turns to me and says something in English it sometimes feels strange.

But that's at an inverse proportion to how much wine we've had. The more we drink the easier it gets-- I guess that's the key... ;-)

srah said...

How is Flemish different from Dutch? Is it just in terms of vocabulary and pronunciation (like US/UK English) or is it a whole different language? I think I like Flemish even more than Dutch. :D

Betsy said...

Depends on who you ask. ;-)

For all intents and purposes it's the same language. It's mainly accent-- about like your comparison between US and British English. There are a few differences in vocabulary and expressions.

But, of course if you asked a Flemish person about Dutch they would say they speak the real Dutch language and that Nederlanders sound like they've got a throat infection. And the Dutch apparently think the Belgian accent is soft and silly.

It's a bit strange and amusing for an outsider to see how worked up people get...

srah said...

Mmmm, I like it soft and silly.

/Sir Mix-a-Lot. (Sort of.)

Goofball said...

haha I never thought about the throat infection! That must be it, there's a giant epedemic in the Netherlands :p. How can they still talk so loudly with a throat infection anyway?

No no we Flemish people are really modest so we wouldn't claim we talk the 'real' Dutch...Flemish is still Dutch but our accent isn't so ridiculous as up in the north ;).

And about getting to know someone in a particular language: I've always read your blog in English, commented in English and although I know you speak Dutch as well...it was very weird to see a Dutch post on here.

Betsy said...

Oh god! Your comment about them speaking LOUD cracked me up.

A Dutch friend made a snyde comment to me the other day about loud Americans and I about slapped her.

Who is she calling loud?! The Dutch, now THEY'RE loud! I don't think I can think of a louder nationality. Except maybe the Spanish, but that's more when they're angry. The Dutch are just loud all the time, 24/7! ;-)

Dixie said...

I loooove how Dutch sounds. My favorite part of flying out of Amsterdam is getting to hear Dutch while I'm there.

If I ever fully master German, I'm going to learn Dutch.