Dutch and Dunglish spoken

Fabulous. Someone’s started a ‘Dunglish‘ weblog.

The Dutch are known for and pride themselves on their command of the English language, but they’re a lot less good at it than they think they are. (Have you ever heard Dutch politicians speak English? Jaw droppingly bad.) Their need to show off their skills sometimes makes for hilarious examples. Check the blog for some.

English is also thought of as ‘cool’ by copy writers, so we’re treated to mostly inapropriate and often cringeworthy English-language advertising: literal translations, grammatical errors, etc.

I’ve always thought I should keep track of them, write them down, but I never do. Now I don’t have to. Awe, as they say, some.

My English is bloody good, but it is far from perfect. I started learning English at a very young age, 6 or 7, through English speaking relatives. In primary school we started age 10, it was a new initiative of the school I was at. I believe it’s standard practice now, but I’m not sure. By the age of 12 I was more fluent than my teachers and did my school friends’ homework and their written tests. We had a ‘system’. Our teacher suspected what was happening, but he couldn’t prove it and never caught us.

Sometimes I make ‘Dunglish’-type mistakes, especially when I get tired. When I’m abroad, speaking English, for more than three weeks, something happens to the language part of my brain. I’ll open my mouth and *think* I’m speaking English, but Dutch will come out and it takes a few seconds for me to realise it. A few vodka tonics fixes the problem. Do I think in English? Yes.

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Meeting people is easy

I’m introducing a new design trend, the retrograde (see header, reverted to pre-2003 image). At Caterina’s party on Wednesday, Rogerio mentioned that he had liked my cranes header a lot. I said ‘it’s still there’, but of course, it wasn’t, since I’d changed it to a shot of willow trees in January this year. Since apparently I still think of this site as the one with the cranes header, I might as well put it back on.

Caterina’s party was very strange for me, but in a good way. I had been slightly apprehensive since I didn’t know anybody else invited, and was slightly in awe of their collective resumes.

It’s not unusual for me to either avoid parties or end up not talking to anyone and leave early. I haven’t mastered the art of small talk and I’m sure I give off a negative vibe, because people rarely approach me and I’m too shy (or too uninterested) to approach anyone. Usually I find within minutes there is nothing left to say or ask.

However, at Wednesday evening’s gettogether I ended up talking to several people about various subjects: geek stuff (including a Bluetooth session), photography stuff, history, food, language, dutch media, etc. I enjoyed listening as much as talking. People were engaging and friendly.

When it was time for me to go home (work awaited in the morning) I wasn’t ready. I wanted to talk to more of the guests. I was sorry I didn’t get to talk to everyone. It was an extraordinary feeling, something I hadn’t experienced since college.

I’m not sure what conclusion to draw from this experience. Apparently, I’m not the lost cause I thought I was. Have I been going to the wrong parties? Should I seek out other social circles?

It’s all encouraging. Maybe I should put that option on a hermit’s life on hold. Now all I need is for people like Caterina to come over and throw more parties.

R.E.M.’s Summertime


{ click to enlarge }

Sometimes when you hit that shutter button, you know – you FEEL it’s the one. When I took the picture above, I knew I’d captured the moment. This is Michael Stipe looking out over 50,000 people at the Pinkpop festival in 1989. He’d grabbed a chair, set it as close to the edge of the stage as possible and he was singing ‘Summertime’.

We’d been standing in the sun all day. Some of our group were slamdancing to The Pixies. Some of us were laughing at Tanita Tikaram who couldn’t hold a tune to save her life (even her fans turned away in disgust). Some of us felt sorry for Marc Almond, pelted with food by an intolerant audience> We had all dropped our jaws in surprise when Elvis Costello came up and defied all logic by being solid, stunning and simply… sexy.

Costello, belting out ‘I want you’, had broken a string mid-song. He’d stood there, solo, still crying the words, his arms stretched out wide. A roadie rushed in, literally sliding in on his knees. He freed the singer of his guitar, slipped him on a new one, and plugged it in just in time for Costello to seamlessly continue his song. We had never been more in awe of musicianship.

We had made our way to the front row. Pressed up against the barrier, a little left of center. R.E.M. were last on the bill. It had been 2 years since they played our country. Two years since I had reluctantly gone to see them and had come back a fan. We didn’t know it then, but R.E.M.’s Pinkpop appearance was to be their last in Holland. Ever. Believe it or not, the next two occasions the band booked Dutch venues both were cancelled for health reasons.

This one almost didn’t happen either. The accident prone band nearly had to cancel at the last moment because Bill Berry’d been bitten by a tick, back in his beloved Georgia garden. The man nearly died of Rocky Mountain Fever in a German hospital. But they patched him up.

I still think the band were at their best in ’89. Stipe in his white floppy suit, sporting what he now calls an ‘unfortunate’ haircut, seemed on the verge of insanity. Buck hadn’t put on the pounds yet, and it was before ueber-nerd Mills got into dye jobs and glittery suits. And… damn it, they still had their drummer.

They launched straight into mayhem: Exhuming McCarthy, Turn you Inside Out, Stand, Orange Crush… the set heavily dominated by Document and Green favourites. Stipe swirled around the microphone stand, brandishing his megaphone. Feeling Gravity’s Pull felt like the apocalypse.

Then they let us all come down gently. King of Birds, Summertime, Swan Swan H and finally, with Mills playing bass sitting down on the edge of the stage, ending with You are the Everything.

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