In the past days, I have of course been checking out Dutch television and as a result of having been away for some years, you seem more alert on all that Dutch being spoken around you. What struck me is how the English language is creeping into the Dutch use of language. Without a doubt, the English language is creeping into many others: in Latin American Spanish a car is “carro” as opposed to coche, in the Netherlands, a “tram” is a “tram,” and “jam” is “jam” whereas the Belgians have chosen to maintain the French word “confiture” (which is of course not Dutch either but French). To some extent I have never seen this as problematic and something that simply comes. What I hear at the moment however is of a different nature; Dutch phrases are being translated into the English language for no apparent reason.
A journalist for a Dutch media company was talking about “I’ve got them” instead of “ik heb ze” whilst showing some reports. A tv commercial in Dutch for some (imported) Danish feta cheese ends for no apparent reason with “closer to nature” instead of “dichter bij de natuur.” And these are just a few of the many examples I am hearing around me and especially on television. TV stars flicking in Ingelish (spelled as it would sound with a Dutch accent) and ordinary folks like you and me alike. While having a snack I said something about it to an older lady sitting next to me on the bench with whom I was having a friendly conversation, sheltered from the rain. “It’s all about trying to be interesting and like the stars.” This very down to earth Rotterdam lady further commented. “Stars, pfff you what stars are young man?” Stars are what the builders saw that worked their sorry butts of trying to rebuild this city after the War. That’s what I call an achievement, that’s what I call stars. Any girl with tits an a nice smile and any boy can play in a movie. But our real stars built our city after it was bombarded to shreds. And they did not need all that silly stuff. Less talking more sleeves up and work hard, you don’t have time to think about how you can use all that silly stuff.”
This probably does not come across half a great as it sounded coming from the mouth of this nice Rotterdam lady. And just before I finished my snack she looked at me and said as only someone from Rotterdam can say it: “You don’t look like you are of retirement age; so what’s keeping you here on this bench? It is time to finish that foreign thing (my bara), roll up your sleeves and get to work again. Come on; don’t get to comfortable on this bench.” When I explained the situation she allowed to even finish my drink.