Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Language issues

Today I called my dentist in Belgium to make an appointment for a cleaning this month and I noticed how weird it was for me to make a "business" call in Dutch again. I mean, it's not as if I've not been calling people through Skype in Dutch before, but it's usually friends and family and not some one I have to use my 'telephone etiquette' with. Some how, I've gotten used to the way Americans start their conversations. They often start with "How are you", which of course is NOT DONE in Belgium (again, unless you're calling a friend or family member).

I also realized that this house we live in is some kind of a Dutch bubble. Within these 4 walls we speak and hear Dutch, but whenever we want to reach the outside world, we switch to English. It has become an automatic switch; whenever I walk out of the door I talk to either the neighbors, people in the store, on the phone, .. I talk in English.

So, in a way, whenever I make a phone call, my brain tends to think I'm going to make that call in English.. and when I made that Dutch phone call to my dentist today, I ended up translating feverishly during the conversation:

"hallo, ik bel om een afspraak te maken voor een cleaning."
"Een wat?"
"Een, eur, oppoetsbeurt."

*this is a dramatization, of course* :)

Anyways, I'm so used to talking English outside of these walls that it feels weird not to. When I'm in a store and I want to pass somebody that is looking at an article, I immediately and without thinking say "scuze me". I hope I won't do this when I'm back.

Another thing that I'm going to have to be aware of is stopping for a red light when making a right hand turn. I mean, in the US, you can make a right turn on red when there's no oncoming traffic. That's a big NO NO in Belgium. Heck, if they pull me over I can always show them my California driver's license and pretend I'm an ignorant American. Haha, I guess that wouldn't work for long.

Anyways, I fooled around with this Voki thing I discovered online today. Check out my personal welcome message to the right. I think I will change it regularly, just to keep things interesting and up to date.


Ken De Vos said...

Hehe, ja het zal nog een serieuze aanpassing voor je worden de komende weken. Maar ja.. fietsen verleer je ook niet hé.

Diene Voki-groet: plezant!
Amai, toen ik je zo in 't Amerikaans hoorde praten: als ik je NIET zou kennen, zou ik denken da ge nen échte Amerikaan bent! LOL
Allee, tot binnenkort hé

bittersweet said...

Haha ik wil gaan winkelen met je wanneer je terug bent en je betrappen op Amerikaanse zinnetjes :)

Anonymous said...

Denniske ,

Nog 8 daagskes en ge gaat weer met uw twee voetekes in het echte leven worden gezet , het doodgewone Belgie ........

t zal aanpasse zijn ver u DE START VAN EEN HEEL NIEUW BEGIN

Maar onthou ; je familie en vrienden , mensen die jullie beide een warm hart toe dragen , zitten nog steeds in je enige levensechte film

tklinkt raar maar tis zo maatke ; TOT VOLGENDE WEEK

Groetekes ,


Lore said...

Die voki! HAHA, ge zijt lik een echten! Allright, have fun! hihi! Hoe geniaal ist! It is creeping nea-rer!

Eddie the Girl said...

yeah that vorki thing is cazy!!!! yeah when you only speak one language all the time it feels weird it's like your brain functions on a high level when you are always speaking two (or more).

Tim Jungbluth said...

Ge moet er nie over worriën ze, Dennis, Da happent to mij al all den taaim.

Tot binnenkort he?
t'Regent hier ;-)

Anonymous said...


cool die Voki groet! Grappig om je nog is te horen!

Ik denk da je je de eerst weken mss nog wa moet aanpassen, maar alles zal wel vlug terug komen denk ik, hoop ik :D
En anders, da van je Amerikaans rijbewijs is nog een optie he! ;)