Thursday, November 5, 2009

Speaking Dutch:

Sometimes, I open the door at work when the doorbell rings... Because I get to practice my Dutch with people who think I'm Dutch, right from the start. I do work at a Dutch company, so this makes total sense. And today, for the very first time, it went like this: I spoke Dutch for at least three exchanges back and forth, until I realized that I had no more Dutch words for a new question that fit the situation. (Besides something like, 'Hoe gaat het met u?'. Which in English would mean: 'How are you?' Literally it means: 'How go it with you?' Strange translation, eh?) Me: Goedemorgen (Good morning!; which can be sounded out in English as: hoo-duh-morgk-guh. All together now: hooduhmorgkguh! Sexy, eh?) Them: 'Ik heb an afspraak met ––'. (I have a meeting with...) Me: 'Ah; ok! (motion them into foyer). Een momentje alstublieft. (One moment please). I then realize I have no idea what their name is. I could have asked, 'What is your name?' in Dutch–but not on a moments notice. (Update, February 2011: My how times have changed! I can totally quack away in Dutch now–woohoo! Fluency is on the way!). At this point, I still have to 'build' sentences in my head... translate it from English back to Dutch, literally, then switch around the word order for Dutch grammar. And therefore I give away my non-native tongue if I pause. So I blurted out: 'Spreekt u engles?' (Do you speak English?… literally: speak you English?) And then, in English, we carried on. The strange thing is I can read Dutch for the most part. Especially if it's in newspapers and magazines and such. And I can read Dutch design talk pretty easily. Progress.