August 18th, 2004

gamiila sig #2

Culture shock

On the whole, we Dutch like the way our Flemish-Belgian neighbours speak. In their mouths, and to our ears, our common language sounds much more carefree, fluffy and light, and their soft 'g', quaint expressions and sheer incomprehensible dialects have a mesmerising quality not matched by anything we folk from "over the rivers" can produce. To be sure, for all their seeming easy-goingness they're also a bit anal about preserving the purity of the language, but we understand that their occasional rants at us for allowing it to become polluted by too many French, German and English words stem from their having had to endure centuries of foreign rule in which Flemish was frowned upon. So we forgive them this quirk and the fact that 9 times out of 10, their team wins in the TV know-your-language game that has been going on forever...and in the annual Groot Dictee der Nederlandse Taal (National Written Test; God knows what idiot thought that up for an evening's entertainment).

So it is with some mild sense of stupefaction that I have just come off the phone with a Belgian colleague who in the course of conversation informed me that nowadays, in Belgium, it's considered quite cool to be able to speak a properly Dutch Dutch. Because, even as we associate Flemish with a sense of joie de vivre and a certain je ne sais quoi-but-we-like-it, so they associate our way of talking and our accents with "a cosmopolitan outlook and success". Huh...fancy that!

Still, they don't think much of our lager. Neither do I.
  • Current Music
    'Jóga' - Björk
  • Tags