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Photo taken by winny biets found on Flickr.com with license CC BY 2.0
I must admit that I had never heard of this particular type of caterpillar or rups. The eikenprocessierupsen or oak processionary is a moth found in oak trees. Their name derives from the way they travel nose to tail. The video below was filmed in the eikenprocessiestation where the different fasen or phases of the rups are studied. This area is also used to show people how they can spot the different developmental phases to better prepare their oak trees.
Eikenprocessierups van dichtbij bekijken - YouTube
Last van processierups
There has been a lot of distress caused by the excess in processierups. The heavy winds from the last couple of weeks have helped spread the critters to levels that are causing genuine discomfort. The hairs of this caterpillars can cause severe irritation in the skin. There have been problems in most of the Brabant region including in the area near the Efteling, a popular attractiepark in the Netherlands. In the town of Ede, also in Brabant, a major road is plagued with the processierups causing people to avoid it all together. The number of rupsen is so high that the hairs of these creatures are being swept with the wind and landing on people. In the video below, a woman had one of these rupsen haar in her eye.
Ede krabt zich rot door de eikenprocessierups - YouTube
Processierups have been causing problems in the region since the 1990s and city councils are active in trying to limit the spread. The mix between warm spring temperatures and heavy winds have made the situation much worse this year. There are different methods used to control the situation including spraying the oak trees with a biological pest control formula or fluids containing a bacteria that kills the caterpillar. The oak trees are also vacuumed to remove the rupsen, however, the people who do this have to wear protective gear.
A more recent approach has been to make more mezenkasten or bird houses, particularly for the koolmees also known as the great tit. This bird is particularly fond of the larva, and the idea is that the houses will attract the birds to the oak trees and then they can have a feast!
Students from the Bonhoeffer College in Enschede have been making the mezenkasten (also called nestkasten) during their carpentry classes. They make about 30 of these houses in about 4 hours, and make sure that each house is free of chemicals or scents to ensure they are attractive to the birds and safe for the natural areas. Once the houses are ready, the students attach them to the oak trees. You can see more about this process in the video below.
Enschedese jeugd maakt mezenkasten tegen eikenprocessierupsen - YouTube
Are eikenprocessierupsen also a problem in your area? How is it deal with?
In this blog series, we choose a Dutch word of the monthit deeWe may tie the word to current events, or just choose one as we see fit. If you have nominations for Word of the Month, please leave them in the comments, and we will consider them. The Word of the Month of June is verjaardag.
Verjaardag means “birthday”. However, it does not have the same exact meaning. Whereas the birthday refers to the day on which you were born, the Dutch word refers to the day on which you verjaart. Verjaren is a verb that means “to lapse” or “to become out-of-date”, so for example:
De coupon is niet meer geldig, omdat hij is verjaard.
The coupon is no longer valid, as it’s become out-of-date.
You would also use it for crimes that are no longer prosecuted because of their limitation:
Het misdrijf heeft een verjaring van 15 jaar.
The crime has a limitation of 15 years.
And yes, you can also use the verb verjaren to indicate your birthday:
Ik ga morgen verjaren!
I am celebrating my birthday tomorrow!
Mijn verjaring vindt morgen plaats.
My birthday is taking place tomorrow.
In practice, you would rarely say this, and instead say:
Ik ga morgen mijn verjaardag vieren!
I am going to celebrate my birthday tomorrow!
Mijn verjaardag is morgen.
My birthday is tomorrow.
So when you say “verjaardag”, you really talk about the day on which you “lapse a year”, like you are closing off the year you just had and you are entering a new one.
However, there are no special traditions related to this that are any different from an English “birthday”. The Dutch also celebrate their birth and look back and forward on their verjaardag!
We do also have the word geboortedag (day of birth), which specifically refers to the day on which you were born.
Relevance to June
Image by Alisa Anton at Unsplash.com
This month, my grandmother is celebrating her 90th verjaardag! Quite a big deal, and so it deserves to be the word of the month. Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, oma! (Happy birthday, grandma!)
What do you think of the word verjaardag? What do you say exactly in your language? Do you have nominations for other words of the month? Let me know in the comments below!
Today is an important day for over 200.000 Dutch school kids. This afternoon, they will hear whether they have geslaagd (graduated) or not – a big deal! It is accompanied by an interesting tradition…
Hang de tas maar uit!
Schooltas and vlag hung up – this student graduated! (Image by Kyon at Commons.wikimedia.org – public domain)
It is traditional in the Netherlands to hang up your schooltas (school bag) if you graduated. There has been quite some regen (rain) today, so some of these bags may no longer be usable! I did the same when I graduated, and my bag had to suffer through rain as well, but – surprise, surprise – it is still in a good condition. Read here about my experience in a blog post from 2014.
By hanging up the schooltas, you show to buren (neighbors) that you graduated, and so they may come by to feliciteren (congratulate) you! Others may also see the vlag out, and know by the schooltas that it is about graduation. This also kind of ties into the herkomst (origin) of this odd traditie (tradition).
This tradition probably started out in the 1950s. Back then, the vlag was only hung up for official celebrations, so in the beginning, hanging up the flag for something “mundane” like graduation was seen as disrespectful, especially towards the Royal house. As an answer, the tas was added, to show that this is a celebration for getting through the middelbare school (high school). Especially in the 1970s, when there was less heed for the royals, this tradition became normalized. And so, this tradition has only existed for a few decades.
In case you are wondering: There is a vlaggeninstructie (flag instruction), on how and when to hang up the vlag. While you are welcome to follow that vlaggeninstructie, you are free to do with the flag what you want to do. It is verplicht (mandatory) only for overheidsgebouwen (government buildings). In this sense, it is different from the US Flag Code that, while not enforced, carries a penalty if it is not followed.
But how does the graduating work? Well, after you did all the exams, you have to wait. For a whole hour. You might get a call, which often is bad news – you have either gezakt (failed), meaning that you have to redo a year, or you can do a herkansing (re-examination), meaning that you can do a few exams again the same summer to still graduate. But still! You just wanna get all that behind you and focus on what’s next!
GESLAAGD: Deze scholieren kregen vandaag goed nieuws - YouTube
Gefeliciteerd (congratulations) to all that have geslaagd today!
Do you know somebody that got their results today? What do you think of the tradition to hang up your bag? Let me know in the comments below!
In the aftermath of the dodenherdenking and the celebration of the bevrijding of the Netherlands from the German occupation during World War II on May 4 and 5 and the fact that 2019 marks 80 years since the start of World War II in 1939, I am writing a series on how the Dutch got sucked into the war, and how they fought and resisted the Nazi occupation. In this fourth part, we continue to have a look at the Dutch resistance, and look at the brave Engelandvaarders.
As we discussed last week, many people did not want to put up with the Nazi rule, and they brought verzet (resistance). What exactly that entails, you can read in part 3 of this series. Some people, however, did not want to “break the system from within” and stay in the Netherlands, but aan de bezetting ontsnappen (escape the occupation) and fight the oorlog (war) from afar. Preferably from Engeland (England). And these people were called Engelandvaarders (“England sailors”). Why?
Obviously, because they left for England. And they (initially) did so via the Noordzee. Simple as that. Or not?
Well, there is a little story behind it.
It’s July 5, 1940. Three friends escape from the occupied Netherlands with a little boat at the strand (beach) of Noordwijk. They reached England and became the first to be called Engelandvaarders. Many would follow them. Not all would survive.
In total, 1706 people, of which 48 women, made it to England. Upon arrival, they were thoroughly checked by the British Security Service MI5 to make sure they were no spies for the vijand (enemy). After this inspection, the Dutch had their own lengthy inspection. But it was worth it: All Engelandvaarders were personally welcomed by Koningin Wilhelmina (Queen Wilhelmina), who supported the Dutch from London. She also initiated Radio Oranje, the radio program used to communicate with the Dutch during the war. More on that in the previous post. For the Koningin, the Engelandvaarders were an unaltered source of news from her country, and so she really valued what they had to say.
Vechten vanuit Engeland
Wilhelmina visiting Breda in 1945, with Peter Tazelaar on her left and Erik Hazelhoff Roelsema on her right, both Engelandvaarders (Image at Commons.wikimedia.org under CC0).
So what came next for the Engelandvaarders? Some only left to escape the war, and to continue living peaceful lives. Though most made the dangerous trip to actively fight the Nazis. Some joined the British luchtmacht (air force), while others became mariniers (navy soldiers). Though most joined the remains of the Dutch army in England, the so-called Prinses Irene Brigade (Princess Irene Brigade).
Een gevaarlijke reis
But how to reach the Engelsen (English)? There were two ways:
Via the Noordzee (North Sea), in small boats. Many soldaten (soldiers) that served in the Dutch army fled this way after capitulation. About 4,000 soldaten made it in May 1940 to England. While in the beginning, this was still possible, it became particularly difficult and dangerous to get to England across the Noordzee after the Nazis built the Atlantikwall (Atlantic Wall), a line of fortifications from Southern France all the way up to the northern edge of Norway.
Route 1 via the Noordzee (Image by author based on Image by Muriel Gottrop at Commons.wikimedia.org under public domain)
Via Belgium and France to Switzerland, through Vichy France, to Spain and to English-held Gibraltar or Portugal, and from there either by ship or plane to England. A much longer route with its own dangers, but nonetheless used by Engelandvaarders and many others that wanted to ontsnappen aan the Nazis.
The second route via Belgium and France, over to neutral Switzerland, via southern France and the Pyrenees to Spain and Gibraltar or Portugal and to England. A long way! (Image by author based on Image by Ghalas/Wiki-vr at Commons.wikimedia.org under public domain)
While the name suggests that the Dutch would only go to Engeland, they would also try to get to other allied territory to escape the Germans.
All of these options were gevaarlijk (dangerous). If the natural gevaren (dangers) would not kill you, the Axis forces would. It was absolutely onontbeerlijk (indispensable) to get help from local authorities, people and verzetsstrijders (resistance fighters).
Soldaat van Oranje
8 jaar in 8 minuten! - YouTube
In 2010, the story of the Engelandvaarders was shown in a new, innovative theater at Vliegkamp Valkenburg, close to Katwijk aan Zee. This air base has important historical significance, as the Dutch fought the Nazis valiantly there during the invasion of May 1940. The musical Soldaat van Oranje (Soldier of Orange) depicts the story of Erik Hazelhoff, who was a real Engelandvaarder and wrote a book about it. It became an instant hit, and quickly became the langstlopende theatervoorstelling van Nederland (the longest-running play of the Netherlands). And it kept going – even after 8 years, the voorstelling is still going and it is still selling out! The main role of Erik Hazelhoff has so far been played by 18 different actors. I saw it myself, and I can definitely recommend it.
This is the end of the series on the Dutch resistance in World War II. If you have any comments or questions, let me know in the comments below.
This year, Netflix is investing about €1 billion in European series and movies. British and Spanish productions and series had already been part of Netflix’s offering, but this year, new countries will tapped. Such is the case for the Dutch-Belgian Netflix series “Undercover” which was released earlier this year.
Photo taken by Shinichi Sugiyama found on Flickr.com with license CC BY-SA 2.0
The show starts with a description of the xtc production in the Netherlands, specifically in the southern region of Limburg (which borders Germany and Belgium) with production figures, the problems this causes the region and a very intense quote that sets the scene:
Limburg is het Colombia van de xtc.
The show follows the undercover investigation of the drug kingpin Ferry Bouman who pretty much runs the xtc world in Limburg. He spends the week in his bunker mansion and the weekends at a camping site in Belgium; the entire time he is running his business. He is said to be very friendly and a family man as long as you do what he says. The first episode sets the plot for the film: two undercover agents will pose as a couple spending time in the camping site trying to gain Bouman’s trust. Bouman’s temper is also evident since the first episode when one of his men lies to him. The two undercover agents, Bob and Kim, also have their own storyline. One is a family man and very much into planning and structured ways of doing things. The other is a more relaxed, much more social and gains access to the family right away. Bouman discovers his car has a tracker so he sets out to contact someone in the police who can tell him what is going on. In short, Bouman doesn’t trust, the agents will have drama and there is bound to be lots of violence, a corrupt cop and lots of action.
In the age of drug cartel fame in films and TV series, it is no surprise that the biggest exporter of synthetic drugs (the Netherlands) would get a place. In 2017, the Netherlands produced almost a billion XTC pills and over 600 million grams of speed. This had a value of almost €20 billion. You can read more about these figures in this article from the Volkskrant.
“Undercover” was inspired by the investigation that led to the arrest of drugsbaron Janus van W also known as Harry Potter (maybe because of his glasses). Janus ran a drug empire from his vacation camp in Belgium for many years until thanks to the samenwerking between Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as an undercover investigation led to Janus’s arrest. De rechbank or court ordered a 10 year prison sentence in 2011. You can read more about Janus van W in this article from De Telegraaf.
“Undercover” was originally filmed in Flemish, the Belgian Dutch which has more in common with the Dutch Limburg dialects that ABN (Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands) or standard Dutch. There are a lot of soft G’s, rolling R’s, and different uitspraken or pronunciations and words. The video below is of the Belgian TV show Van Gils & Gasten where the gasten are the two actors who play the undercover agents. In this interview, you can hear very clearly the different pronunciations between the Dutch actress Anna Drijver and the Flemish actor Tom Waes. They also discuss the issues they had during filming. Anna found it at times very hard to understand not only her co-actor Tom but also the Limburg crew.
Van Gils & gasten Undercover' met Tom Waes en Anna Drijver - YouTube
I am certainly looking forward to more international TV series in Netflix. It will certainly help us all practice our language skills, but also give us an insight into the types of shows, story plots and actors of other countries.
Have you seen this TV series? Were you able to watch it in Flemish or did you opt for Dutch (or English)?
In this blog series, we choose a Dutch word of the month. We may tie the word to current events, or just choose one as we see fit. If you have nominations for Word of the Month, please leave them in the comments, and we will consider them. But now, the Word of the Month of May: De Verademing.
What does it mean?
Een verademing (Image by Eli DeFaria at Unsplash.com)
De verademing is a zelfstanding naamwoord (noun) of the werkwoord (verb) verademen. You would barely ever use the word verademen as a verb, but rather use the zelfstandig naamwoord verademing, or use the onvoltooid deelwoord verademend.
A verademing can be translated as a “regained breath”. The werkwoord verademen means “to breathe again”. Een verademing, then is a breath of fresh air, relief or respite. The beautiful thing of this word is that, no matter in what meaning it is used, the word adem (breath) is always in it. It clearly refers how a verademing comes after a time of pressure, when it was hard to “just breathe” and calm down. It introduces a time or moment in which you can inhale deeply, and think for a moment. The English translation “breath of fresh air” includes that part of the meaning too, but not the other translations.
And you can’t always use “breath of fresh air”, either. A sudden deadline extension is a relief, not a breath of fresh air. Yet, that is een verademing.
You can also use the onvoltooid deelwoord (present participle) verademend, so that you are not bound to use a noun. Again, English has equivalents like “to relief” and thus “relieving” for this. But if you want to use “breath of fresh air”, what verb gives you the same tone and meaning?
Let’s look at some examples to see how nicely it flows:
Na een aantal stressvolle weken is de deadline dan toch uitgesteld. Het is een verademing voor ons bedrijf.
(After a number of stressful weeks, the deadline was extended in the end. It is a relief for our company.)
Mijn nieuwe fiets fietst feel fijner dan mijn oude. Het is zo een verademing!
(My new bike is much nicer to ride than my old one. It is such a breath of fresh air!)
Een nieuwe baan kan erg verademend zijn.
(A new job can be quite relieving.)
Relevance to May
Image by Wai Siew at Unsplash.com
It is May, a month in the Netherlands in which finally, the temperatures are going up and the zon (sun) shines the way we know and love from zomer (summer). However, we are not yet in the punishing hitte (heat) of the zomer. As opposed to the blistering cold of the winter (winter) and early lente (spring), this nicer weer (weather) is quite a breath of fresh air – quite the verademing.
What do you think of the word verademing? Do you have a word like it in your language? Do you have nominations for other words of the month? Let me know in the comments below!
In the aftermath of the dodenherdenking and the celebration of the bevrijding of the Netherlands from the German occupation during World War II on May 4 and 5 and the fact that 2019 marks 80 years since the start of World War II in 1939, I am writing a series on how the Dutch got sucked into the war, and how they fought and resisted the Nazi occupation. In this third part, we will explore how the Dutch resisted the Nazi rule.
A local verzetsgroep (resistance group) (Image by Stefanhendriks1989 at Commons.wikimedia.org, CC0 public domain)
After the capitulatie (capitulation) of the Netherlands, many people did not want to give up that easily. Some actively collaborated with the Nazis, an act known as collaboratie (collaboration). Others simply tried to make the best of the new situation without resisting or helping it actively, while others actively resisted it. This last group would become known as het Verzet (“The Resistance”). While this sounds like one coherent, large group, it really was not. In fact, the question that should first be asked is: wat is verzet (what is resistance?)
Geschiedschrijver (historian) Loe de Jong, who wrote a seminal series on the Netherlands during World War II, defines verzet as follows: “Verzet was steeds verzet tegen de bezetter: elk handelen waarmee men trachtte te verhinderen dat deze de doeleinden verwezenlijkte die hij zich gesteld had.” (Resistance was always resistance against the occupier: Every action with which one intended to prevent that the occupier would realize the objectives he had set.) These doeleinden were, in particular:
To make the Netherlands a nationaal-socialistische staat (national-socialist state)
To use the Dutch economisch potentiaal (economic potential), in particular for the oorlogsvoering (war effort), or simply exploitatie (exploitation)
To deport hundreds of thousands of Dutch staatsburgers (citizens), in particular the Joden (jews) to concentration and extermination camps, or simply deportatie (deportation)
To prevent any steun (support) for vijanden (enemies) or any actions against the three doeleinden above.
With this broad definition, many acts were considered verzet. Something seemingly harmless like wearing an anjer (carnation) on June 29, 1940 – the verjaardag (birthday) of Prince Bernard, whose favorite flower was the anjer, was already considered verzet. Why? After the Germans took over, the koningin (queen) fled to England. The monarchie (monarchy) was removed when the Nazi rule took over. So showing allegiance to that monarchie meant going against the first doeleinde of making the Netherlands a nationaal-socialistische staat.
Of course verzet would also go further, like giving a place to onderduiken (hide) to Jews or other vervolgden (prosecuted) under the Nazi regime. Or much further, like executing Nazi officers or attempting to assassinate high-ranking officials. Many verzetsstrijders (resistance fighters) were much more terughoudend (reluctant) to do these things, because the repercussions were grave. If you gave a roof to a vervolgde, they could also take you away or burn down your house. After an (attempted) assassination, many more regular Dutch people would get murdered.
At the end of the oorlog (war), there were about 45,000 leden (members) of different verzetsgroepen – half a percentage of the Dutch population at the time. The amount of people that helped out, or only did small deeds of verzet is much higher of course.
Radio Oranje and other news
Radio Oranje, eerste uitzending 28 juli 1940 - YouTube
One way that the Nazis tried to reach their doeleinden was by censorship of the media. To resist this, many illegal channels were created to still keep people informed. One of the most famous was Radio Oranje.
On July 28, 1940, two and a half months after the Dutch capitulation, the English BBC premiered a special kwartier (quarter-hour) for Radio Oranje, a new radio program for the Dutch to speak to its population in the Netherlands. Koningin Wilhelmina opened this Dutch-speaking program, where she said the following:
Ruw geweld is niet in staat een volk zijn overtuiging te ontnemen.
(Raw violence is not able to deprive a people of its convictions.)
Nederland zal den strijd volhouden, zo lang tot voor ons een vrije en gelukkige toekomst opdaagt.
(The Netherlands will continue the fight until a free and happy future appears for us.)
Radio Oranje was uitgezonden (broadcast) every day at 9 pm Dutch time. It would present Dutch news, warnings about attacks and even serve to pass on coded messages.
Even though Wilhelmina’s flight to England was seen by some as an act of cowardice, even treason, this was a clear sign that she was on the side of Dutch verzet, against the Nazis. A lot of people listened it, but the actual effectiveness of the program is hard to measure. However, it definitely helped to steek de Nederlanders een hart onder de riem (“stick the Dutch a heart under the belt” – expression meaning to support, motivate, encourage).
Of course, the Nazis forbade to listen to Radio Oranje and even installed stoorzenders (jammers). Even owning radio receivers was forbidden at some point. But the Dutch often just hid their radio away.
The front page of the first oplage of Vrij Nederland of August 31, 1940. (Image by Hannolans at Commons.wikimedia.org under public domain)
Radio Oranje was not the only way to spread Dutch news. More than 1300 illegal so-called verzetskranten (resistance newspapers) were produced by the end of the war. Kranten like Het Parool and Vrij Nederland grew very quickly, and exist to this day as national kranten. They had oplages (prints) of a few hundred to hundreds of thousands every month.
Effectiveness of verzet
Jong in Oorlog - Verraad of verzet in de oorlog - YouTube
How effective were all these actions? Did they really help resist the Nazi rule, save lives, and help end the oorlog? Hard to say exactly, but it is likely. The Dutch actually helped more than 350,000 people onderduiken, which is one of the highest numbers in Europe. The Nazis also never really succeeded in converting the Netherlands into a nationaal-socialistische staat. We will never know if this would have happened had the oorlog lasted longer, but the verzet definitely played an important role in resisting the Nazis.
However, not all Dutch that resisted wanted to do it from within the Netherlands. They wanted to go further and fight within an army. And those brave Dutch people we will take a look at next time.
Het verzet makes for a good story, telling of the heldhaftige (heroic) and verschrikkelijke (horrible) of the oorlog. There are many Dutch movies that tell stories, some based on reality, of verzetsstrijders. Recent examples are Oorlogsgeheimen, Zwart Boek and De Tweeling.
What do you think of the Dutch verzet? Was there verzet in your country against the Nazis? Let me know in the comments below!
Last Saturday, the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Tel Aviv with about 186 million viewers worldwide not including the many streaming parties organized in several countries. The big winner of this year’s event was Dutch singer Duncan Lawrence giving the Netherlands its fourth win.
Photo taken by Daniel Kruczynski found on Flickr.com with license CC BY-SA 2.0
What is Eurovision?
Eurovision began in 1956 as way bring together the continent after the oorlogen or wars. The first show was held in Switzerland and it was a huge experiment considering live TV was not really common, let alone among so many countries. At first, the show was called Eurovision Song Contest Gran Prix, but later it was shortened to just Eurovision Song Contest. Eurovision has grown to be the longest running television shows and one of the most watched non-athletic event in the world.
Who and how can you participate?
Although the event began as a Europe-only event, it has somewhat expanded over the years. Any member of the European Broadcast Area who pays a participant fee can participate. Non-European countries who have sent a competitor include Turkey (transcontinental), Israel, Cyprus, Armenia, Australia, Morocco, Russia (transcontinental), among others.
All submitted songs must have both music and lyrics and the singing has to be live. There have been some beperkingen or restrictions about language, but nowadays, songs can be in any language. English has become the most common language in use although many countries still use their own.
Stemming or voting is done two ways. First, there is a selected jury who awards punten or points to each of the participants. Secondly, viewers can submit their vote via the app or with an SMS, however, they are not allowed to vote for their own country. This reduces the advantage of the most bevolkte or populated countries (Germany, France, UK, Australia, Russia). Since the popular voting began, there has been a backup jury in place just in case of a malfunction.
This year, the show was hosted in Tel Aviv since Israel won Eurovision 2018. The theme of this year was “Dare to Dream!” and there were many events organised in Israel, including beach watching parties, related to Eurovision.
During the first halve finale or semi-finals, Australia was the big winner of the night followed by Czech Republic and Iceland. The second semi-finals saw the Netherlands, North Macedonia and Sweden as the big winners. The finale was won by the Dutch singer Duncan Lawrence with the song “Arcade” followed by Italy and Russia. You can see Duncan’s performance in this video from the Eurovision YouTube channel. The video below shows the warm welcome Duncan Laurence received at Schiphol after the big win. Some of the fans at the airport compared Duncan’s win to winning the WK or world cup.
Honderden fans op Schiphol voor Duncan Laurence: 'Alsof we het WK hebben gewonnen' - RTL NIEUWS - YouTube
The winnaar or winner of the event is automatically the host country for the next year. This means that Eurovision 2020 will be hosted by the Netherlands. Not long after Duncan was named the winner, many Dutch cities were already bidding to host. Some of these include The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and my very own city Maastricht. Cost will be a factor in determining the city considering that Premier Rutte said there would be no extra money given to the Dutch national broadcast. Each city will have to determine if the cost of the show (anywhere from €15 million to €50 million) is worth it.
I found the video below and thought it was a gem! This video has the top 10 entries from the Netherlands. Some of the songs are in English while others are in Dutch. My personal favorite is “Calm After the Storm.” Which one did you like best?
Top 10: Entries from The Netherlands at the Eurovision Song Contest - YouTube
Did you watch Eurovision 2019? Which country were you cheering for?
I visited the grotten (caves) of Maastricht last weekend. They are entirely human-made, as the mergel (marl) in the Sint-Pietersberg (“Saint Peter’s Mountain”) has many uses. It is used as bouwmateriaal (construction material), ingredient for cement (concrete), veevoer (fodder), kleurstof (coloring) and kalkmeststof (agricultural lime). While there is no spreekwoord (saying) related to mergel, there is an uitdrukking (expression). I found a fitting spreekwoord though!
Een goede ziel weet van stenen brood te maken
Image by Wesual Click at Unsplash.com
A good soul knows how to make bread from stones
Making brood (bread) from stenen (stones) – impossible! Stenen are useless – brood is amazingly nutritious. The idea behind this spreekwoord is that you should be happy with what you get. Even if you are given something useless, you can be happy with it, you can figure it out.
The exact herkomst (origin) of this spreekwoord I could not find, but it appears to have a biblical herkomst. It probably refers to a lesson to avoid being gretig (greedy). The Dutch generally have a culture that is, let’s say, suspicious of gretigheid (greed).
I have not heard this spreekwoord a lot in everyday use, probably because the same message can be passed on with fewer words and in a less cryptic way. I could imagine it being used in the following way:
Wat moet ik met dit ding? Het is bijna 10 jaar oud, daar kan ik niet mee werken!
– Een goede ziel weet van stenen brood te maken.
(What am I supposed to do with this thing? It is almost 10 years old, I can’t work with this!
– A good soul knows how to make bread from stones.)
It does have a rather negative connotation, as you basically tell somebody that they are being greedy or ungrateful for what they have. If you want that undertone, however, it is an excellent spreekwoord. On to the uitdrukking!
Mergel (marl) (Image by jdegraaf at Flickr.com under license CC BY 2.0)
To be starved
Uitgemergeld zijn (to be starved) is an expression that relates to a body being just skin and bone due to honger (hunger), ziekte (sickness) or uitputting (exhaustion). It is especially related to a detrimental process that led to this condition. It is not a good state to be in, to say the least.
But where does it come from, how is mergel related to this? Is it at all?
There are different theories, actually.
The most widespread is that it is indeed related to the material mergel. As I said in the introduction, the stuff is used as kalkmeststof. Kalk (lime) is an important ingredient for well-fertilized soil. However, using too much mergel to fertilize is going to lead to unusable soil, as it does not contain any other voedingsstoffen (nutrients). This process of slowly draining the soil of nutrients it requires to be “alive” translates well to the meaning of the uitdrukking. So it does make sense!
However, other theories emphasize the German equivalent ausmergeln and how that came about. That word simply came from the Old German merg, marg or Mark, which means “power, energy”. So with uitmergelen – “out-marling”, you would literally take the power out of somebody.
The uitdrukking fits in all social settings, both formally and informally. You would not use it lightly, though – it does not just mean skinny, it really means skin and bone.
Na haar chemotherapie is ze hard achteruit gegaan. Ze is helemaal uitgemergeld.
(After her chemotherapy, she quickly deteriorated. She is just skin and bone now.)
What do you think of these two? Have you heard them before? Do you have equivalents in your language? Let me know in the comments below!
Just when I think I have a good grasp of Dutch, a new situation comes to show me that there is still more to learn. I recently took my car for the bi-annual change of winter and summer tires and was faced with new vocabulary. Below is a list of some useful words and phrases related to car maintenance.
Photo taken by Jac. Janssen found on Flickr.com with license CC BY 2.0
Banden en Velgen
In the Netherlands, you are not obliged to have winterbanden or winter tires during the winter months, however, it is very much suggested given that these tires help with traction or tractie in temperatures below 6 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Farenheit). I recently purchased an extra set of velgen or rims to reduce the cost of changing the tires each time.
Having two sets of tires requires storage space either in your garage or opbergruimte (storage room). For those who don’t have storage space or couldn’t be bothered to remember to put the banden in the car when getting tires changed (yes, I have forgotten the tires more than once), many car garages offer storage space for your tires. The catch is, of course, that you have to pay them for the storage and always use them for the tire change. Bandenopslag costs between €50 and €60 per season.
An autobeurt is the service done to your car. Beurt literally means a turn or a move; I like to see it as the car’s turn for service. Another common word used is onderhoud which means maintenance. You usually have two options, grote beurs or kleine beurs, and these vary from one car maker to another. A kleine beurt usually includes vervangen motorolie en filter (change motor oil and filter), bijvullen ruitensproeier- en koelvloeistof (top off washer and cooling liquid), inspectie banden en remen (check tires and brakes), controle ruiten en ruitenwissers (check windshields and wipers), controle accu en verlichting (check battery and lights), among other things. The approximate cost of this is €100.
A grote beurt includes the above mentioned plus some others including inspectie remystem (inspect breaking system) and vervangen bougies (replace spark plugs). The approximate cost of this is €230.
In Europe, cars get checked every year to make sure everything is running smoothly and that there are no safety issues. This is very similar to what I used to get done in my car in Texas. In the Netherlands, this is called APK or Algemene Periodieke Keuring. The APK is a check for veiligheids- en milieueisen or safety and environmental requirements. This happens after the fourth year of the car, then another check two years later, and then every year. For diesel autos, this happens after the third year and then every year after that.
When it is time for the APK, you receive a letter in the mail letting you know its time. You can have this done two months before the due date at many car service centers. There are several checks done. Below is a list I found on the ANWB website.
de verkeersveiligheid (remmen, wielophanging, schokdempers, banden, stuurinrichting, verlichting en carrosserie)
het milieu (uitstoot van uitlaatgassen)
de registratie (de kilometerstand, het voertuigbewijs, identificatienummer en de gebruikte brandstof)
The following video explains what happens in the APK. You can hear the pronunciation of most of the words I’ve mentioned.
ANWB helpt: APK 2018 - YouTube
In this post, I covered some of the most basic vocabulary related to car maintenance. For those who know more about cars than I do, this might not be enough and I encourage you to check the ANWB website for more vocabulary and reading material.