Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Summer 5- Rot op!

By and large Dutch people speak better English than English speak people Dutch. This is useful when visiting Holland. I went twice over the summer; once for the Feyenoord tournament with my son (which Spurs won and thereby promised so much) and more recently on a bit of a road trip with my girl. I'm grateful that Holland is rammed with polyglots but still feel that everyone should avoid swearing in a language that is not their own. This extends to using swear words as signs in shops like this one below:English is still 'a la mode' (deliberate joke) in Europe. Signs everywhere have smatterings of English. Again this is OK, especially when you want to buy something. These people in Holland presumably don't quite get 'fuck' as a word and neither did the people in Paris a few years ago whose clothes shop window had massive signs announcing 'FUCK: The Sale'. It reminds me of the Japanese department store which aimed to appeal to Westerners by embracing Christmas celebrations. They did this by having a giant santa nailed to a cross at the front of the shop.

There's something about the complexity and subtelty of swearing that means as a second language speaker you're rarely going to get it right. A korean student in my class once declared that he was 'very wank' one morning. I still don't know what he meant; I didn't like to ask.

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