I’m taking a Dutch course, and because I’m in The Netherlands that means I have a lot of chance to practice, right? Wrong. I heard that if you go to France, the french will be a bit reluctant to speak in English. But I think here the Dutch is a bit reluctant to speak Dutch.

The Sterrewacht is an international community so the official language is English (and also Spanish, said Rafael who is a Colombian), I haven’t got much chance to practice here so I usually practice in the street. But after a few weeks I’m feeling a little bit strange because most of the reply is not Dutch.

Example 1:
I’m in Den Haag looking for Reykjavikweg. I’ve stepped out of the tram and after a few walks asked somebody.
Me: “Meneer, kunt u mijn helpen? Weet u the weg naar Reykjavikweg?” (Can you help me Sir? Do you know the way to Reykjavikweg?)
Meneer: “Go over this street and take the first street to the left.”

Okay. So asking for direction is an obvious give-off that I’m not Dutch and speak a lame Dutch. My asian-looking face doesn’t help me either. It’s a dead giveaway. And I might also speak Dutch with a foreigner’s accent.

Example 2:
I’m in Amsterdam Centraal Station and I’m waiting for the train to Leiden. I want to make sure that I’m waiting in the right line. So I ask a conductor:
Me: “Goeiavond Meneer. Is deze de spoor voor de trein naar Leiden?” (Good evening Sir. Is this the line for the train to Leiden?)
Meneer: “Nee.” (No)
And then he check his PDA (yeah, even a conductor is given a standard issue PDA to do his job) and check the train schedule.
Meneer: “It’s over there. It is the correct line but you have to wait over there.”

Blimey! I’m a little bit confused whether my Dutch is so lame that its not worth answering in Dutch or he just want to practice speaking English! (just like me trying to practice speaking Dutch)

And here’s the most embarassing case:
Example 3:
I’m in a chinese restaurant in Den Haag. I’m taking a juice and asked the owner for the price.
Me: “Hoeveel is het?” (How much is it?)
Owner: “Tujuh puluh lima sen.” (75 cent)

Aaaaarrgggghhh!!! The owner can speak Indonesian! She even knows that I’m one! Okay, I know that in Den Haag there are lots of Indonesian, but being answered a question in Indonesian is just plain stupid.

Written by Tri L. Astraatmadja

After living for 10 years in Europe as a Master's student, PhD researcher, and a postdoc, in 2016 Tri L. Astraatmadja moved on to the United States for a second postdoctoral appointment at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington DC. He is now in his third postdoc at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD.

11 comments

  1. Gilaakk.. klo gue jadi lo sih bahagia banget jd ngga harus stres belajarin bahasa asing, bisa nyantai2 aja gitu looo.. tp 75 sen emg lucu sih, gw jg pernah ngalamin yg kaya gitu di Jerman.. hehe..

  2. You have to be proud using Bahasa Indonesia, dear! Hahahahahahhahahha lain kali tanya “Niki pinten mbakyu?” atau “Nyunsewu, bade tanglet…. kulo sampun wonten ing panggenanipun?” Big hug > ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. huahahahahahahahhahaha ๐Ÿ˜€ jadi inget komik agen polisi 212 yang disuruh belajar bahasa ke luar negeri, ternyt para penduduk di negara yang dituju malah berbahasa negara lain ๐Ÿ˜€ mirip banget seh

  4. Sami mawon, gue juga puluhan tahun di Jawa, sekalipun udah ngomong jawa dialus-alusin, tetep aja di jawab pake bahasa Indonesia.

    Heran, gue selalu aja ketauan kalo lidahnya bukan lidah orang jawa.

  5. Hahhahhahaha…… Gw pernah lebih parah.. Lagi konsultassi thesis gw sama orang di perusahaan. Udah panjang2 ngomong bahasa inggris, terakhirnya dia ngomong bhasa indonesia yang kalo gw mejem, gw bakal yakin kalo orang di depan gw bukan londo tapi indonesia abiss… oh my gooodd….

    Banyak yang lucu di sini, disapa cewek bule, dengan bahasa indonesia yang lancar, terus disapa kakek2 pake bahasa Indonesia ditawarin duduk, wah dah gak keitung booo….

  6. Try, coba sekali waktu belanja di toko yang penjaga tokonya orang tua. Aku pernah keringatan karena harus bicara bahasa belanda lantaran Mevrou sprekt niet engles…. Atau praktikan bahasa belandamu sewaktu jalan-jalan di Paris. Dijamin orang perancis itu terpaksa pakai bahasa Inggris!!! Wakakakakak

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