bunnyfish adventures

who hate yeh?
February 21, 2009, 6:34 pm
Filed under: Dutch culture | Tags: , , ,

Dutch class is going better (I actually like it!  Except for the tests…), but I feel more confident in writing and reading than speaking.  My favorite lessons are the ones that involve food, since that was my main exposure to Dutch before I started taking class.

But sometimes I’m still immature and think little things are funny.  Audio clips are borrowed from the text.

Hoe heet jij? = What’s your name? (But is closer to “Cómo te llamas?” in that another way to ask in Dutch is “Wat is jouw naam?”)

donker = dark.  You can hear it in this example sentence that means “The days become shorter: it gets dark earlier.”
De dagen worden korter: het wordt vroeg donker

vaak = often.  The sentence below means “We ask these sorts of questions often.”
Dit soort vragen stellen we vaak.

verblijfsvergunning = residence permit.  It’s the longest word I’ve seen in the text.

Wat jammer = “What a pity”

And there’s no word for cereal.  It doesn’t really exist.

And my friend Daniël told me there’s no word for “race.”  They made up a verb “racen,” but before borrowing that from English, there was no way (or reason?) to have a word for competitively riding anything.  Just “snel rijden,” which is to “ride fast.”

That could explain why it’s so easy to pass people on the way to school.  But sometimes they’re more concerned with doing other things.

I know it shouldn't be surprising, but seeing people hold hands while biking is still kind of cute.

I know it shouldn't be surprising, but seeing people hold hands while biking is still kind of cute.


Dutch dishwashing
November 25, 2008, 3:19 pm
Filed under: Dutch culture | Tags:
DA dinner 2008.11.19 - 16

DA dinner 2008.11.19 – 16

I forgot to comment on how the Dutch wash dishes. They have this plastic bin that they put in the sink, fill it with hot water and lots of detergent (this is key). Then they put everything in the bin, scrub it, and leave it to dry, like in this picture.

This may be related to how they refill beers at bars. You give your glass to the bartenders, they dunk it upside down in a sink onto some vertical scrubbers mounted to a base, and then fill it again without rinsing. Sometimes it’s best not to think too hard about these things, I guess.

a story of sinterklaas
November 25, 2008, 1:36 am
Filed under: Dutch culture | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I first heard about Sinterklaas from Marlous and Jur when I went to Amsterdam (in the early ages of this blog!).  In a nutshell, here’s how it goes:

Sintaklaas sails into various ports in the Netherlands on a steamboat from Spain in November.  The actual holiday is celebrated December 5th, but it takes Sintaklaas time to visit all the cities, so there are various festivals for his arrival beforehand, like the one I saw on Saturday.

intocht sinterklaas

He has helpers called “Black Pete” (Zwarte Piet) who were originally devils, thus the dark skin.  They are the ones that go around delivering presents to the good children, since Sinterklaas can’t do it alone.  (Man, that Dutch rationality.)  Shoes are laid out so that presents can be left in there as well.  And then the bad kids are taken away by the zwarte pieten to Spain to work for Sinterklaas.

The grown-ups exchange gifts that have poems written by the sender that are intended to rip you a new one in the name of good fun.

There are various treats around this time, including gingerbread-ish anise-ish mini-cookies (kruidnoten and pepernoten) and biscuits (speculaas), giant chocolate letters for the first letter of your name, and marzipan figurines.

And here are some variations from the above that I’ve heard or read:

  • The bad children are thrown in Zwarte Piet’s sack (that otherwise carries presents) and are taken back to Spain.
  • The bad children are thrown in Zwarte Piet’s sack and beaten. (Jeroen, Belgium)
  • To make Black Petes more racially palatable, the story of their skin color was changed to their being dirty from coming down the chimney.  But why wouldn’t the clothing also be dirty?  (Insert laundry detergent ad here.)
  • To make Black Petes even more racially palatable, they tried to have multi-colored Petes one year, like Fruit Loops.  It was so successful that they changed it back to all-black the following year.  (Wikipedia)

But to end on a good note, I’ll mention Sverre’s childhood experience with the Norwegian version of Santa.  Basically his parents had an agreement with the neighbors to take turns getting dressed as Santa and going to each other’s doors to deliver presents to the kids.  This way, you really wonder when Santa comes to the door and both your parents are inside of the house.  And his sleigh and reindeer are parked at the way end of the street, out of sight, because he can’t bring them everywhere.

To this day, he still doesn’t know which neighbors came to his door.  (Or were they neighbors after all?)