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Category Archives: The Netherlands

Part of me wants to find a translation for this, and then again, part of me wants to let my English language imagination run amok, ala “Slagroom, is that a ROOM with lots of SLAG in it? And what is SLAG, anyway?????” The joke behind that is, basically, that Dutch is one closest relatives of English. But it’s only so tentatlizing close that most guesses as to word meanings are just always going to be very, very wrong. Just enjoy the photo as is:

A Gigawebs photo found on Flickr with a creative commons arrangement.


Well, this is just interesting . According to the further in the entry, there’s a theme park ride based on this Belgian/Dutch legend.  I’d describe it, but the passage speaks for itself.

One of the first things that comes to my mind is the legend of the ‘bokkerijders’ (translated it is ‘buckriders’ or ‘goatriders’, also spelled as ‘bokkenrijders’): a group of highwaymen that pillaged and plundered large parts of the Belgian and Dutch Kempen (a region in the south of the Netherlands and in the north of Belgium) and who where also active in the western part of Germany in the second half of the 18th century. There was poverty in these regions at that time, and these highwaymen were angry, for the Church had all the wealth.

It started of with plundering abbeys, churches and cloisters. But like with so many things, the success of the raids got into their heads and they started plundering villages. Excesses started to surface, and this is were the legend begins. The people were getting frightened of these highwaymen, who sometimes appeared out of nowhere, raided churches and abbeys, and spat on the cross. Because of this the people thought they had made a pact with the devil, and some ‘eye witnesses’ had seen them riding through the nightly heavens, sitting on bucks (the buck is symbolic for satan; a lot of images from that time pictured the devil with buck hooves), and their eyes glowing in the dark. So it was said. That is why they were called ‘bokkerijders’.

Damn, I like love this photo.  As pointed out elsewhere on this blog, this is a road — in the land between Utrecht and Amersfoort — that I used to live on.    The particular stretch I lived on had a double problem.  One one side of the property, you had the sounds of traffic, and on the other side,  a mile or so away, you had the Soesterberg Air Force Base runway, where American F-16s  and Dutch flown Harrior jets routinely took off.  Windows where inches thick, because of it.  A convent was near the home, as well as Apollo, the the American Military Housing Area.

Some legal stuff:  plucked off of flickr, under creative commons, photo taken by Gigawebs

Instead of just one picture, this one just refreshes with different angles.

It’s probably been more than 15 years since I spoke — very badly, of course — Dutch. Still, one of the things that stuck with me are how incredibly long some words can get in that language. Ones I remember from taking Dutch classes in High School are:



I think I may have crashed a babelfish server when I put the first one in. So, I googled “Longest word in Dutch” (Honestly, with as bad as I am at proofreading my posts, sometimes, you think I could actually remember how to spell both of those?) And, I ended up on a forum titled “Longest Thinkable Word in Your Language.” There, a guy named sander writes:

the agreements for the negotiations concerning the salary of public servants who decide on the policy for areas where unemployed youth is allowed to hang out.

the curriculum of an education teaching the makers of exhibitions about the tents of the Hottentots.
(the last one is a joke bye the way,but the exhibition about the tents of hottentots was real.)

If you stick the H-word into google, you come up with this explanation of Dutch grammar:

Like all other continental West Germanic languages, Dutch has a rather complicated word order that is markedly different from English, which presents a problem for Anglophones learning Dutch. Dutch, like German and Norwegian, is also known for its ability to glue words together to form very long words. Examples of this are de randjongerenhangplekkenbeleidsambtenarensalarisbesprekingsafspraken (the agreements for the negotiations concerning the salary of public servants who decide on the policy for areas where unemployed youth is allowed to hang out), hottentottententententoonstellingsmakersopleidingsprogramma (the curriculum of an education teaching the makers of exhibitions about the tents of the Hottentots), and a number with dozens of digits can be written out as one word. Though grammatically correct, it is never done to this extent; at most two or three words are glued together.

It’s probably one of the most well known Dutch legends.  Holland is a low country, beneath sea level, and a boy sticks his finger into a dike to keep water from flooding his village.  Well, upon closer inspection, the boy’s name is Hans Brinker, and he came from Haarlem.  However, the root of the legend may be more American than Dutch, as this post attests:

The legend of the brave Dutch boy – by others thought to be named Hans Brinker – who supposedly put his finger in the dyke to prevent a flood, was actually a literary invention by the American writer Mary Elizabeth Mapes Dodge (1831-1905), who was born in New York.

Hans Brinker was made famous in the USA by her children’s novel Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates, dating from 1865. In the chapter called ‘Friends in Need’ there is this story read out in class called ‘The Hero of Haarlem’. This is the story – quoted above – of the heroic boy who saves the land from drowning by putting his finger in the dyke all night long. The adventure is situated near Haarlem, not yet in Spaarndam (both in the province of North-Holland). Actually, the hero in the story remains anonymous, but still the adventure is mostly attributed to Hans Brinker, Hansie Brinkers or Peter of Haarlem. (By the way, several of the names Mary Mapes Dodge invented perhaps look or sound Dutch for Americans, but they are not, and sometimes they look more like German names – Hans’ sister for instance is called Gretel, like in the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale)

The post goes on to state:

The art historian Annette Stott states that with Hans Brinker Mary Mapes Dodge created a work of pure fiction: “She had not visited Holland when she wrote it and relied on a variety of published sources about Dutch life, literature, and art for her information. She also mined the memories of a Dutch-born couple living in the United States.” (Holland Mania, p. 240). Stott concludes her research on the book by saying: “The fanciful tale of a finger in the dike, which was repeated by other authors of juvenile literature, undoubtedly went some distance toward establishing in young American minds a belief in the courage, independence and trustworthiness of the Dutch” (Holland Mania, p. 241). Somehow, Mary Mapes Dodge tried to depict Holland as an ideal and idyllic nation of brave, righteous, godfearing farmfolk on wooden shoes.

Can be found here. The text is in Dutch, but there are a good number of pictures there.

Webcams to some might be boring.  To me, it’s just like looking out the window of a house.  Wait, it’s exactly that.  We do it all the time, sometimes to just check the weather.  Other times?  Boredom.

Here’s one for a street in Amsterdam.

Creative Commons licensed photo found on Flikr, uploaded by Le Blagueur à Paris

Americans, I’m sorry to say, are not the masters of the french fry. We may like to believe that we are, with all of our fast food chains, but if there’s one thing I really miss about the Benelux, it’s frites. As this guy attests, before relying this bit of history:

The Dutch, however, cannot take responsibility for inventing the fry. Neither can the French. That honor goes to the Belgians, where fries are cherished even more than they are in Holland. The fry culture in Belgium is similar to that of Holland—fries are everywhere, the thick slabs of potatoes are freshly fried and served in paper cones, and they are offered with a variety of toppings, the most popular being mayonnaise—but the Belgians have also developed a wide variety of specialized fries shops, called, in Belgium “frietkots” or “fritures”. These range from small stands, to sheds, busses and caravans, to shacks or quaint chalets.

It is only in the United States that the nomenclature of fried potatoes insinuates a French connection. In England they are called “chips,” in France “pommes frites” (which means, literally, “fried apples”), and in Belgium and Holland “patat” (not the word for potato, which is “aardappel”). The French fry has little to do with France other than the fact that it’s popularity spread to that country as quickly as it did to others. In fact, the French, like most of Europe, eyed the potato with suspicion until the last century or two.