Thursday, February 23, 2006

Het is zo slecht nog niet

It's been an odd kind of week ... I missed Nederlands class Monday and Tuesday and felt better for it. Sometimes it's nice to exercise choice in life and quite frankly, hanging out with fellow expats drinking wine held an irresistable lure.
And some of the down feeling is easily explained by Alison's quote from Expatica ... February is expected to enter the record books as the gloomiest ever. Up until 20 February, meteorology bureau RMI had recorded just 12 hours and 48 minutes of sun. The rest can mostly be put down to the 'in process blues' ... experienced by those foolish enough to try to enter a country not their own in these crazy days.

But I am complaining ... okay, a little but along the way, I am discovering beautiful things, meeting new people and learning new stuff ... het is zo slecht nog niet.


Mozza said...

It reminds me of Geneva. All winter long, this low hanging stratus cloud - a light grey roof over the city, really. I remember somewhere in March, getting my colleague to see what I had just found in the sky: a cloud.

woman wandering said...

Lol, thank you for making me smile. A friend of Gert's used to drive out of Geneva every weekend, just up into the mountains to see the sun ...

Egan said...

It has been a wet and dark winter here in Seattle. Last winter was really really dry so we had some pretty bad forest fires in the summer. That won't be the case this summer.

Dobermann said...

Any weather in Finland this time of year sucks. I miss sun and warm weather.

Oh, and congrats from me too, little late, but I didn't see it earlier. I found you in Expatica. :)

Roger said...

Well, commenting on the comments above, I must confess I would like to see some snow here and there, for I never saw it in my life. Brazil is really scorching sometimes.

As to Lady Di, I see now you are in Belgium, not in the Netherlands, and that I should read more attentively your posts. Shame on me.

"Het is zo slecht nog niet." I would translate it as "It is not so bad" or "It is not that bad yet". "Nog" looks like "noch", which is German for "yet" and "still".

I really didn't know New Zealand people were called "Kiwis". Is it because of the fruit?

In that other post you mentioned that people in Belgium use to speak three or four languages. Here in my country it is really rare. Brazil is a vast extension of land in which the only official language is Portuguese, and any other languages are spoken by very scarce and small groups. So, more than ninety percent of us have only heard Portuguese throughout our lives. To live in a smaller European country, bordering on all sides with nations of different languages, is perhaps one of the best conditions to improve in this area.

woman wandering said...

Winter ... I'm glad it will be over soon. here's sunshine today, and this horrible cutting wind ...

Roger, the Kiwi is an unusual flightless bird that is only only in New Zealand, and it has become a symbol of New Zealand.
At the end of the 1970s, we were also the first major grower of Chinese Gooseberries and changed their name to kiwifruit ... that's what causes the confusion over our nickname.

New Zealanders mostly hear english so it was with quiet shame my monolingual self arrived here in Belgium. You seem miles ahead of me with the language ... I knew no German and that will help you.

I can't imagine anyone wanting to move from Brazil to Europe in winter ... and of course, it doesn't help to know that friends and family down in NZ are all enjoying a warm summer. I feel sun-starved.

Roger said...

Well, Di, not all of us like the sun. I study literature and have a certain suspicion that English literature owes much of its richness to the fog. Of course we have a rich literature in Brazil, but it is not nearly so enchanting. Perhaps if I were born in London I would have already written some detective novel. Of course, we don't miss anything until we lose it, and I don't know what is a sunless world.

Was my translation guess correct? I suppose so, for what you said. If I missed the meaning, I beg your pardon. My Dutch, as you know, is only guesswork.

As to the kiwi, now I remember the bird. (I as addicted to those TV shows featuring world fauna.)

woman wandering said...

My degree was mainly in literature and I am ashamed to write that the only Brazilian author I have read is Paulo Coelho. I searched google for listes ... so who would you recommend?

Perhaps you're right about fog and rich literary traditions ... sadness and longing also often induce creativity.

A sunless world ... ufff, it's sad.

Your translation was correct 'It's not so bad'.

Roger said...

Hello, Di;

You'll probably think it weird that Paulo Coelho doesn't enjoy a positive fame here in Brazil. The general public loves him, but the literary community entertains little more than contempt for him, and sees his work as being halfway between self-help books and esoteric trivia. As to myself, I must confess he doesn't please me.

I don't know what were your literary preferences, but if you enjoyed Laurence Sterne's "Tristram Shandy", I may suggest a book from our foremost writer: "Posthumous Memories of Brás Cubas", by Machado de Assis. It is a very funny book, written by a dead man who tells the reader his useless and capricious life.

woman wandering said...

Hi Roger
I had to smile when I read your latest comment regarding Paulo Coelho's books ... the literary contempt is worldwide however, being the stubborn creature I sometimes am,I still enjoy some of what I find in Coelho's book ... most particularly 'Veronika Decides to Die'.
I'm not sure if you can imagine my surprise when I realised he was one of the only Brazilian writers I'd read ...

My reading taste can be found on the left of my blogsite ... I've read everything there. I guess my preferences are travel books, for obvious reasons but from there almost everything goes except for popular fiction. I have trouble with light books (although I guess you will doubt me after reading of my previous literary 'sin'.)

Thanks you for your recommendation.

Roger said...

Well, your shouldn't feel awkward for your limited knowledge of Brazilian literature: I know nothing of New Zealand writers. The flaw is worse in my case, for I study English literature. (At present I'm writing about Jonathan Swift.)
Being today in a bookstore I took the time to review a Dutch course I saw many months ago. It's a course for beginners called Hugo; besides the book, the material comprises three CD-Roms, with about three hours' conversation. I'll probably buy it to start studying.
I also paid a very interesting visit to the related page on Wikipedia. Let me quote an excerpt about the problems of learning Dutch in a Dutch-speaking country: "There is also the problem that because the native Dutch speakers themselves are often so linguistically proficient they will try and help a struggling Dutch learner by addressing him in his own language!" It's very worth reading. The URL is
Best regards!

woman wandering said...

Roger, I have to hold onto my shame regarding Brazilian literature, as I too studied English literature and love reading, I have no excuses really.

Good luck with your Nederlands studies ... and I had to smile when I read your quote: "There is also the problem that because the native Dutch speakers themselves are often so linguistically proficient they will try and help a struggling Dutch learner by addressing him in his own language!"

They are linguistically stunning over here ... shame is becoming second nature due to my monolingual state. I weakly claim geographical isolation as an excuse.

Thanks for the web site. :)

Roger said...

Well, Di;

I didn't mean I'm more likely to know books than you, for I already knew we were in the same career. It's just that Brazilian literature is a far cry from that of England, being written in a less known language, whereas New Zealand's is a "sister" literature, produced in the same language. I should at least know the main writers (about whom I accept suggestions).

I'm still in doubt about buying that Dutch course I've recently seen. Its main advantage is the length of the audio records, which is a capital point when we are dealing with a language of complex pronunciation. The written material, on the contrary, is quite brief, but it may be complemented with further courses or Internet resources.

As a curiosity, in Portuguese your country is called "Nova Zelândia", and you are a "neozelandesa" (the word means "a woman from New Zealand").

woman wandering said...

Hi Roger ... I know you didn't mean to imply you knew books than me, it's just that I've read around the world whenver possible and somehow I've missed out on in any depth reading of Brazilian literature.

Suggestions in NZ Lit ... hmmmm, well 'The Bone People' by Keri Hume achieved international fame. I love Maurice Shadbolt's 'A Touch of Clay' which might all but impossible to find out in the world. One of my friends is doing her Masters on Maurice Gee's 'Plum Triology'. Oddly enough, Katherine Mansfield was a NZer and involved in the early Modernist movement, friendly with Virginia Woolf and other. Mansfield's 'At the Bay' is one of my favourite short stories.

But enough ... I could talk books for a long time.

Good luck with choosing your Dutch course. The Flemish govt. has a rather good integration policy in place at the moment ... it means that I get each of my Dutch courses for 20euro, which actually pays for the rather superb workbook I get. They want their immigrants as fluent as possible and have impressed me in this.

Do you know, while I was in New Zealand, it didn't occur to me that my country had other names. In Turkey they surprised me with Yeni Zelanda, here it's Nieuwe Zeeland and now the Brazilian version. Thank you :)

As a curiosity, in Portuguese your country is called "Nova Zelândia", and you are a "neozelandesa" (the word means "a woman from New Zealand").