De Eetclub

29 Mar

I give up! I’m seriously can’t get into this book. I’m over half way but the first half has been lacking drama and I find the characters rather flat and superficial. More so than in Nieuwe Buren. There’s more main characters, 10 instead of 4 and none of them are particularly developed beyond the stereotype of upper middle class businessmen and their Stepford wives. Maybe the end is incredibly exciting and thought provoking but I doubt it. Truth be told, there’s just not enough sex in this book to drag me through ๐Ÿ˜€

Next I’ll read something a little more…intellectual (or sexy).


On a side note: Eurovision

25 Mar

The Eurovision entry for The Netherlands this year was originally written in Dutch and sounded like this:

But now they’ve decided to translate it to English so it’s become this…

…which I’ll admit, looks and sounds a lot cooler. The video makes it seem like they always sing in English, like this is their natural style. It could work. But anyway, I was a little annoyed when I found out they were translating it to English because I’m a purist and believe that every country should enter with a song written in their own language. We all know Eurovision isn’t about the music so why not make it about cultural diversity? It’s such a shame. I think the lust to win drives countries to pull out their English dictionaries and construct entities such Apricot Stone (2010 Armenian entry)…

and sing in god awful accents {sorry but I can’t stand Lena >_<} (2010 German winner)

All being said, I can’t say that this is much better (2011 UK entry)

Praat mar Frysk

24 Mar

I’m really tempted to start learning Frisian at some point. I don’t know how long it’s taken the Frisians to manifest this but there seems to be a buzz and a sense of pride around the language that doesn’t exist around Dutch. A sort of bubble wrap, protecting the language, since it is listed as ‘vulnerable’ by UNESCO.

The poster girl for Frisian, making it extra, extra, super cool, is Victoria’s Secret Angel, Doutzen Kroes. Here she is in a video for the organisation Praat mar Frysk (Speak Frisian):

If I do start learning Frisian, I’ll probably take out a subscription with EduFrysk which has lessons, dictionaries etc and and Afรป sell Frisian books (although they’re pretty expensive :/).

Frisian is fairly easy to read, at least with my level of Dutch but personally I think it sounds softer than Dutch and nice when sung. Another effort to promote Frisian was through music. They’ve translated Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan into Frisian.

And the Frisian band Twarres have written unbelievably beautiful songs in Frysk.

Dus praat mar Frysk!

A mini book review – Nieuwe Buren

16 Mar

I thought it would be nice to start reviewing the books I read, from the perspective of a learner. So…

Nieuwe Buren (in English, New Neighbours) is an accessible book for someone with B1/2 level reading in Dutch. The language is quite simple and based on action rather than description. For this reason it shouldn’t be considered a example of spectacular Dutch writing (or so my Dutchies inform me) but it is an interesting read.

The story is about a couple who have been trying for years to have a baby, finally get pregnant but unfortunately their baby is stillborn. Years of sex for the sake of getting pregnant and difficult artificial insemination treatments have left their relationship cold and it is at this point that they move into what would have been their dream home, had they have had a healthy baby to complete their family. The house is brand new, in a housing estate. They meet another couple, in the house opposite who offer them both a way out of their pain. And here’s where I stop before I spoil the rest of the book.

The book is narrated by the first couple. Both of them, alternately. Therefore you get two different perspectives of what’s going on, which often clash due to the characters’ lack of communication. All four characters are in many ways rather repulsive people who keep secrets from each other and seem to have no shame in destroying their relationships with each other.

In an interview (in Dutch) Saskia explains that the book is a critique of the sterile cookie cutter suburban world and the attempts of individuals to differentiate themselves from their neighbours. I honestly wouldn’t have got this from the book without having read the interview because other than the character of Peter, one of the two narrators, all of them seemed to have immersed themselves in this way of life without a hint of real rebellion. Peter is the only one who really delivers this message through the author’s frequent use of mostly English language song lyrics throughout his narrative. (It just so happens that Saskia Noort and I share the same taste in music (rock) : D)

All in all, I give it three stars (***) since the story had me hooked but now and then I got a little sick of the characters and the rather unrealistic chain of events.

Number 4 is duh, duh, duh, done!

15 Mar

Reading progress

Four books so far this year woo! *High fives self* Now I have to get my butt to the library. For some reason I’m feeling more drawn towards modern books instead of literary classics. They are, of course, easier and I get through the quicker. Next I’d like to read something by Herman Koch but I’ll have to wait since his books are always lent out.

Wanderlust and the Paradox of Choice

I’d like to talk about wanderlust and my competitive side. I seriously can’t go on a language forum without feeling like a child in a sweet shop. All those languages to choose from, all those people gobbling up French, Swedish, German, Thai…and then I want to push all the other children out of the way and steal them all. But I don’t, because of Dutch. It’s a constant battle to reel in my urge to collect more languages and create a more impressive profile. It would of course, be silly to try to learn a language for the sake of impressing others but it’s a mistake I’ve already made several times. Now I know what I really want, which is C2 level Dutch by the time I’m 26 (I’m 20 now) and to be trilingual by the time I’m 30. My ego says ‘12 years for two languages? You’ve gotta be kidding me?!‘ but my heart (which values simplicity) says ‘Go for it!

Inevitably, by the time I’m 30 I’ll be interested in something else so I know 30 year old me will be a lot more satisfied with 3 fluent languages than 20 unfinished ones. It’s getting scary all this talk of being 30 so I’ll stop typing now. Bye! : D

Here we go!

14 Mar

I’ve switched my blog from tumblr, to get a more bloggy experience. Tumblr isn’t very bloggy, it’s more of an extented twitter and I feel like I’m talking in a crowded room with the dashboard feed. WordPress is so zen. I may well be talking to myself but at least I’m doing it in peace.

I’m getting pretty into my reading goal for Dutch. I’ve finally learnt something from my perfectionism and that’s that when I pick a goal I should stick with it. At the start of the year I told myself ‘I’ll read 5 books in Dutch this year’. That goal multiplied to 10, then 12 until I thought it would be a good idea to set the goal ‘read as many books as possible this year’. That goal will never be completed and will drive me crazy! So I rolled it back to 12 and I’m almost a third of the way through that goal. I’ve promised myself a milkshake after reading my 12th book. ๐Ÿ™‚


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