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.
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.
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:
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.