Lucy Deutekom says in the introduction to her self-published book ‘Let’s Talk Dutch’ that her aim is to provide the reader with a deeper understanding of Dutch society by explaining common sayings and expressions.
She does this by combining odd bits of history with facts and figures about subjects such as Dutch directness, cycling and dairy products with a sprinkling of phrases with an explanation of where they come from.
Een tandje bijzetten (add a tooth, meaning to put in extra effort) for example comes from changing to a higher gear on a bike, for example, while talking about water tot aan de lippen refers to flooding and an immediate danger or state of emergency.
The book also has a number of mini interviews with foreigners living in the Netherlands about the Dutch language and their favourite words.
Lucy, who currently lives in Ireland, teaches Dutch to foreigners and uses her experiences to hone in on particular problems – defining the word zin, for example and getting to grips with what the poldermodel – the Dutch art of political compromise – actually is. Even Johan Cruijff gets a look in.
There is, however, plenty to disagree with. Is the bieterball an ‘exciting variation’ on the traditional meat-based bitterbal? And are Dutch train stations that exceptional that they merit their own short chapter? The book also needs a good edit to smooth out some of the more clumsy texts and the odd school teacher homily.
Nevertheless, Lucy’s experiences as a teacher stand her in good stead and ‘Let’s talk Dutch’ is a novel concept which is sure to be useful to people learning the language.
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