Friday, June 19, 2009

Dutch 101 - 6/19/09

I have recently taken a job as a shuttle driver. I transport interns from their quarters to resort hotels that employ/train them. The company I work for is called American Hospitality Academy. I absolutely love this employment. With my level of road rage, it is surprising that I would enjoy piloting a 15 passenger van through Myrtle Beach summer traffic with house music blaring from the radio. I have displayed to my charges some new hand gestures and words they may not have been familiar with when another driver makes an incredibly stupid maneuver. I will write more posts about my continuing adventures as an underachiever, but today is about my daily encounter with a foreign language. Although I have traveled extensively abroad, I am essentially unilingual.

The majority of the young people that I convey are foreign students. Though they come from the far corners of the world, the preponderance are young ladies from The Netherlands. Oddly, there are no Dutch men in the program, only women. No complaints here. This would be an appropriate place for an inappropriate joke about fingers in the dyke, but I will take the high road. I don't think Hans Brinker even knew Ellen Degeneres.

Though they are exceptionally beautiful women and extremely nice, they speak only Dutch to each other. Through our contact, I have had the opportunity to overhear countless conversations in their native tongue. It is a very harsh language and requires a large amount of guttural throat action, with lots of consonants. Ks and Zs are very prominent. Sounds a little like Klingon. There is probably a reason you have heard many French, Spanish, and Italian songs, but probably none in Dutch. It is not very melodic. It makes German sound like poetry. Hearing this language on a daily basis, I don't think that a woman had anything to do with Vincent Van Gogh cutting off his ear and I now know why Eddie Van Halen never sings.

I will demonstrate by taking a verse of one of the most beautiful poems ever written, translate it to Dutch (very roughly) and then back to English. I invite you to read it aloud in Dutch and enjoy the flow. Then, have some fun imagining if Elizabeth Barrett Browning was Dutch and her works translated to English for our pleasure.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

Hoe denk ik houd u? Laat mij tellen van de manieren. Ik houd u aan de diepgang en breedte en hoogte mijn ziel kunnen bereiken, wanneer gevoel buiten het gezichtsveld van de uiteinden wordt en Ideal-Standard Gratie.

How think I keep you? Me lets count of the manners. I keep you to the load water-line and breadth and altitude my soul can reach, when feeling becomes outside the face field of the ends and Ideal-Standard Grace.

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand some Dutch words. Let me teach you some:
Hallo = Hello
Pardon = Excuse Me
Ja = Yes
Kat = Cat
Wat = What
Unfortunately, they don’t use enough of those type words to allow me to eavesdrop. There is one word they use constantly. It is “echt”. They tell me it means “really” but it sounds more like they are trying to expel a hairball.
There is another phrase they use often: Onze bestuurder is een vet dit. I will let you translate that if you are sufficiently interested.
As you can imagine, we have a lot of fun on our daily commute.

12 comments:

inlandempiregirl said...

This sounds like a very interesting job. I look forward to reading about more adventures.

linda may said...

Nothing wrong with being an underachiever. Trying to be an achiever when you are not is more annoying. Ahyway, I was wondering what you had been up to.Sounds like fun and good pereve value along the way. ;)

myrtle beached whale said...

not sure what pereve is. must be an Australian term.

quin browne said...

always makes me giggle when i think of lovetalk in dutch or german... your posting proves i'm correct

(hairball comment was a hoot)

Dee Martin said...

Agree with Quin haha. The whole thing sounds like a hoot. I worked in a bra factory once - if you get worried about being an underachiever just think on that for a bit :)

Carry On Tuesday #5 and SS #168

floreta said...

hahaha you understand about as much dutch as i do then. the ones that sound like english :P and haha! house music! i love it.

Redheels said...

This post was so funny!! I have missed you, glad you are writing again. I am looking forward to reading more, especially about your escapades surrounding the new driving position.

The pics made the post even better.

guzzy said...

RICK OH RICK!!!! Never knew you in such a way my notorious shuttle driver! loved the "spitting a hairball" part... looking forward for more!! :D

GreenishLady said...

There's learning in it for everyone! I spent a summer in Holland as a student, and picked up about ten words. Sad. What I seemed to notice was that lots of words ended in "en", and that phlegm-y sound.

Orionsbow said...

Why have I not been reading you every single day? It's a hell of a lot more interesting that fight ing with Robyn. This was WONDERFUL! Made my day!

myrtle beached whale said...

Probably because I am lazy and don't write very often.

Anonymous said...

haha this is pretty funny. Translated the dutch too. Mijn Passagiers spuwen wanneer zij praten.

Love ya. Carly