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Dutch and Double-Dutch

Summer's here and the time is right for giving this place a good old clean and tidy-up. To which end, I have just got myself a brand new industrial strength (2100kW) vacuum cleaner (not a Dyson, but the traditional kind) which, while boasting a special horsehair parquetry brush, unfortunately only came in midnight blue. It also came with a manual as thick as your arm, a 5-year warranty, and a price tag to match (ouch!). But the sales clerk assured me the motor would probably still be running on it in 15-20 years' time, so the hefty price should work out as a steal 2 decades from now. I hope. Right now, I've got to unpack it, assemble it, and see if it really does do a better job of sucking up the dust from my parquetry floor with that horsehair brush than my previous cheap piece o'crap hoover without such a nifty device ever did.

There was one slightly uncomfortable/embarrassing moment during the purchasing proceedings, though; and it had nothing to do with the hoover or the price tag, but with the almost inevitable reaction I tend to get from sales people especially, "Do I detect the hint of an English accent?" I would like to tell them that "No, you do not!", but I've gotten this remark so often in recent times that I'm starting to wonder whether something in my use of my native tongue hasn't gone slightly off through my daily exposure to and use of the English language at work for the last 13 years. I don't know whether it's the cadence, the turn of phrase, the way I enunciate (my fellow countrymen tend to not make a clear distinction between d- and t-sounds at the end of words, whereas I do), or simply my pronunciation of the English words our language is interspersed with, like 'computer' and 'printer' and 'monitor', that leads them to suppose that I'm non-native Dutch, and it embarrasses me when they next compliment me on my mastery of what they suppose is their language, not mine.

I got the same reaction from Rutger last week, when I told him that I hurt my ankle while in Manchester some years ago, and the way I pronounced the name of the city made him think I might be from the UK, as "no Dutch person could ever quite say it like that" -- but I'm Dutch, and I honestly don't know how else I should say 'Manchester' if I am to avoid this constant confusion over my nationality. Perhaps it would be best if I never mentioned the place of my accident ever again, to anyone.



( 16 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
Apr. 14th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC)
I suppose that happens whenever you're exposed to another language or another accent for a good deal of time, bits of things slip in to your regular tongue without you even thinking about it.
Apr. 15th, 2007 10:53 am (UTC)
I suppose that's true enough -- it feels weird though, to be thought to have a foreign accent in your mother tongue.
Apr. 14th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC)
Or come to America where we can't tell the difference anyway. *g*
Apr. 15th, 2007 10:51 am (UTC)
Now there's an idea! Sometimes I think I would love to start my life all over again in another country, but then reality hits and I realise I'm far too chicken to actually go through with it.
Apr. 15th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
That would be odd, to be thought non-native when the opposite is true. I wouldn't worry about it too much, though. It's clear that you have a wonderful grasp on at least two (maybe more?) languages, and that's really quite the accomplishment in my mind.
Apr. 15th, 2007 10:46 am (UTC)
When I left school, I was proficient in Dutch, English, French, German and Spanish, and I had a smattering of Greek, Latin and Russian as well. However, since then, I've only ever had to use only Dutch and English on a daily basis, and though I can still express myself in French and German, and haltingly in Spanish, I am nowhere near as fluent in those languages as I am in the other two.
Apr. 15th, 2007 04:02 am (UTC)
My BF is English and he's been living here two years now - and recently got accused of losing his accent by some English people that we met. After only two years! I'm not sure it's true, but I've never found his accent very broad anyway. I imagine he'll get that a lot when he heads home for a visit this year.

Your English is fantastic, and that's something to be proud of. It's a pity it's rubbed off so much that that it's affecting your native tongue, though. I can see how it would hurt to be mistaken for a foreigner in your own country. *hugs*
Apr. 15th, 2007 10:59 am (UTC)
It's a pity it's rubbed off so much that that it's affecting your native tongue, though.

Yes, I think it's a sad development, too. I used to pride myself on speaking an accent-less Dutch, and now I seem to have acquired an accent that's not even native! Maybe I should hurry up and find a job in a non-international environment, and regain what I seem to have lost...
Apr. 15th, 2007 05:26 am (UTC)
You do speak English rather fantastically; I didn't realize it was the language you use at your place of work (which, naturally, I've forgotten already with my terrible memory!). I'm betting it's your pronounciation of "English" words, thrown into the conversation, and people assuming that, if you pronounce them just like an English person, you must be from there.
Apr. 15th, 2007 11:05 am (UTC)
I work at the European Competency Center for Hewlett-Packard here in The Netherlands (a combination of sales and support offices), and it's a multi-national environment. With people from all over the world working there,we all use English as our common day-to-day language.
Apr. 15th, 2007 11:38 am (UTC)
Ah! Makes sense.

Unlike your icon of a man with a paper bag over his head, staning next to a (Porsche?) on the grass...!
Apr. 15th, 2007 03:21 pm (UTC)
Ah! That's Hamster, aka Richard Hammond, one of the Top Gearpresenters. A car programme, Top Gear is one of my favourite shows. In it, Hamster and his co-presenters James May -known affectionately and somewhat condescendingly as Captain Slow- and Jeremy Clarkson (Jezza) road test new car models and get into a lot of scrapes while doing it (e.g., they very nearly got beaten up by a bunch of bigot yokels when they drove into Hicksville, Alabama in a car covered in slogans proclaiming the rights of gays and how badly country music sucked). In one of last year's shows, Hamster, whose love of the Porsche 911 is a source of constant derision to his team mates, was cajoled into road testing the Nissan Micra C+C by his fellow presenters, without being told that the car they had available for him was bright pink. To complete his humiliation, it's a convertible piece of crap car and he had to drive it through one of the most touristy and busy places in The Cotswolds, before he could authoritatively proclaim it a piece of crap car. Hence the paper bag.

I use the icon to indicate embarrassment.
Apr. 15th, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC)

Yet another fandom you and pooh have in common, I see!
Apr. 15th, 2007 06:10 pm (UTC)
Indeed -- and I'm deeply jealous of the fact that pooh's already made it into the audience and onto the set for the programme, when there's a waiting list that currently stands at 6 years!

And no, I hadn't heard of the Mary Kay pink car, but I can see how that could be deeply embarrassing to some people to be driving/driven around in (me, I wouldn't care. As long as it gets me from A to B, I don't care what colour a car is).

BTW, that's James May in the icon I use to reply to your comment with. He trained as a pianist, so is eminently suited to comment on cars. ;-)
Apr. 15th, 2007 03:26 pm (UTC)
BTW, have you ever heard of a company called Mary Kay, one of those door-to-door cosmetics companies? Who reward top sellers by buying them cars - in "Mary Kay" Pink (a shade a bit deeper than the one in the car icon you have)?

Today, I saw a Hummer... in Mary Kay Pink.

*head in hands*
Apr. 19th, 2007 07:32 pm (UTC)
Not that it's the same thing, but for years I've been accused of not really being from the "South" because I use correct pronounciation and grammar when speaking. When I was younger it would make me angry.
( 16 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
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