Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Logic and Language Courses (September 29, 2005)

I loved this quote from Colin Monteath's book 'Under A Sheltering Sky': Chance encounters change lives. Close friends, passing aquaintances and even characters who emerge from old books often leave footprints across my heart. By opening mysterious doors, the influence of others has inadvertently altered the direction of my life.

Today has been about other things. At 9am, I hopped on the No. 24 tram, hoping I would find 'Drink', the tram stop that would lead me to De Shelter, where I would be assessed re: which Dutch language course I would attend.

I found it, stepped off the tram, walked along Turnhoutsebaan, turned right onto Bakkerstraat and then right onto Langstraat ... De Shelter, Langstraat 102 was my destination. Remarkably, I found it. Well, not straight away. I did surprise a man eating his breakfast at his desk, but when he could speak again, he explained that I had to follow the yellow footprints through the complex to the office I was heading to ... but of course.

Forms filled, I was taken upstairs for a psychology test in logic ... I'll wait while some of you laugh imagining it ... in the time spent waiting, I thought 'Logic, superb ... my BA in Literature is just what I need to get me through this one'.

Finally we were a roomful ... Turks, Morrocans, Africans, some Eastern Europeans, and me ... and guess what, I was the first one finished the test ... with 45/48 which is a lovely 94%.

This meant that they offered me a place in an intensive university course ... I would be fluent in Dutch (Nederlands really) in two and half months, full-time university for a cool 400 euro. Intensive study? Hmmmm ... fluent in two months ... I wasn't so sure my mind worked like that.
The other offer, which they thought might bore me was, a 20euro 3 month course with any and everyone ... and the possibility of slow learners. Hah, somehow, I had disguised myself as a high flyer. Sigh, those who experienced my Turkish will never believe it. After two years in Istanbul, I had developed a technique of shrugging my shoulders, and saying, with a pained smile, 'Yeni yabanci' meaning new foreigner ... more or less.

So I paid the 20 euro, and signed up for a course that begins 29 October ...

The good news is that my 'school' is near Gert's work, so I have class 4 days a week, from 2-5, then get a ride home with this Belgian who lured me over here.

I returned home, making a stop at the supermarket, finding a celebratory Lindemans Bin 50, Shiraz 2004. Celebrating what ... well, narrowly avoiding the intensive two and a half months to fluency course, of course.


Anonymous said...


I'm a Brazilian who happened to see your blog, and I got quite interested in knowing how you managed your Dutch studies up to now. I've read things here and there about the language, which I intend to learn someday. I speak English and German, and believe Dutch to lie in the middle between them. People say its main difficulty is pronunciation, and the sounds of "g", "v" and "w" seems really challenging. You could post an entry about your experiences in this regard.


woman wandering said...

Hi Roger,

I wrote a post dated Nov 17 titled 'New Zealand spreek and the Dutch alphabet' ... to quote from that about how difficult Dutch is for me because I pronounce some vowels and consonants quite differently, due to being a New Zealander:

'I have to try and memorise one or two things ...
You see, it's like this: 'a' sounds like 'r' to me, and the Dutch 'r' involves vibrating my tongue and rrrrrrrrrolling the 'r' out of my mouth.

'I' is an 'e' for me, and a Dutch 'e' is an 'a'.
'G' is a 'hee', and 'h' is an exhalation of air that creates the 'haa' sound.
'K' sounds like 'car', and 'q' sounds like 'coo'.
"u' involves me pursing my lips, pretending to blow someone a kiss then saying 'uu' while my lips are still kiss-shaped.
'Z' has a t on the end of the sound ... like this: 'zet',
and v become 'vay' and 'w' become 'way',
y is ipsilon.

But if you speak English and German, you are already far far ahead of me ... German and Dutch share words and sounds to an extent, and I recognise the meaning of some Dutch words because they sound similar to English words.

Let me know if you find my reply here ... :)

Kind regards

Roger said...

Hello, Di;

Yes, I found your comment and liked it a lot. I have no personal knowledge of New Zealand English; usually, my Brazilian friends who travel to New Zealand never come back to tell. (It must be a luring country.) Thus, I don't know what are the differences between your native pronunciation and the standard British one. But I'm sure the differences with Dutch are greater.
At least the grammar, in so far as I was able to give it a look, seems quite simple. What do you think?


woman wandering said...

Hi Roger

If you have the grammar for German and English, then again, it is much simpler for you.

The grammar does seem straight-forward in many ways.

New Zealanders sound like Australians, although we have this illusion that we are more softly spoken, sounding more English.

A friend told me about a website with Dutch exercises on it today ... try this:

New Zealand is alluring if you enjoy Nature. It's a lovely small country and so alive after the tiredness I feel in the land here in Europe.

Kind regards

Roger said...

Hello, Di;

Yes, Dutch grammar seemed to me very similar to English grammar. It doesn't have "case declensions", as in German, nor complicated verb conjugations, as in latin Languages such as mine. But of course, I could touch only its surface.

How about everyday life? Is it possible to understand and be understood? I suppose many people in the Netherlands speak English, what may be quite a help, but also a certain obstacle to really studying their language. Sometimes it's better to be obliged to use a language other than our own.

As to New Zealand, it's so far from here that it can't but seem exotic. Of course Brazil, which for me is a very prosaic country, has a kind of "romance appeal" for foreigners. That's the glamour of distance!

I see I wrote "luring" when the correct was "alluring". Sorry.


woman wandering said...

It is relatively simple to be understood in English here in Belgium - the women in my small supermarket can switch to English if explanations get complicated, and people tell me there's even more English in the Netherlands. Many many people have 3-4 languages.

I can't imagine you leaving Brazil for Europe however ... like NZ to you, Brazil seems exotic and alive to me.

Please don't apologise for any errors in English, I am mortified to only have fluency in one language ...

Kind regards