Learning Dutch is silly.

Posted on Nov 20, 2013 | 5 comments

Learning Dutch is silly.

Maybe when you read the title of this post you thought I was going to go on about how silly it is to learn a language that so few people speak and that is not so useful outside of the Low Countries. I sometimes had the feeling when I first came here, especially during the frustrating days, that I was putting a lot of time and effort into a rather useless pursuit. Depending upon where that tricky creature called life decides to take me in the future maybe my knowledge of Dutch will prove useful, or maybe not. It’s hard to know, but that’s not really what this post is about…

Along the journey of acquiring some proficiency in this mysterious little language there have been lots of laughs. Anyone that’s started out on the monumental journey of learning a second language can attest to the fact that it always challenges you to see things from a different perspective… to break out of the linguistic norms that have structured your life and thought processes up until the present and to begin to realize that not only are there many different ways to express your thoughts and feelings, but there are also many different ways of living life. It’s not to say that one way is more correct than another, but the essence of it all is to realize that life is not limited to a set amount of options on how to express oneself or how to live one’s life.

Sometimes when you’re learning a new language you just have to laugh at the way things are expressed. It can be an extremely confusing and frustrating process and laughing about such crazy words or expressions is the only way for me to get through it. I delight in coming across a Dutch word that so literally expresses a concept or gives me a hilarious mental picture to help attach it firmly in my vocabulary. This is why I was absolutely delighted when I came across Laura Frame’s Facebook page. She’s a splendidly creative artist who attaches whimsy to Dutch words in a way that always spreads a smile across my face. Her illustrations perfectly capture that moment of silly bewilderment I always feel when I come across a new Dutch word that delivers a strange mental picture (think zeehond).

I’ve embedded some of my favorite illustrations of Laura Frame’s here in this post. If you’ve enjoyed them, let her know! Become a fan on her Facebook page so you’ll never miss a moment to laugh as you learn a new Dutch word and check out her personal website.

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  • Melissa Callaert

    Haha, i can’t stop laughing now! you’re such a silly girl if it comes to dutch! Glad i found your blog!

  • Ariane

    Leah, I know exactly what you mean from one expat to another.

  • Raya Lammens

    It’s true, we have some very funny and weird words in our language. Every language has some weird words I think. How’s your Dutch now? I’ve never heard an american speak Dutch!

  • Someone

    Have you tried “Diksmuidse Boterkoeken” yet ?

    They are like regular Boterkoeken but their bottoms are soaked in some kind of syrup . They look like this :



    I’ve seen them on morning markets allover the country. They even had them at some delaize’s. If you pass them by , stop and get one.

  • http://betweenthreeworlds.quora.com/ Elisabeth Khan

    Well said, Leah: “(…) begin to realize that not only are there many different ways to express your thoughts and feelings, but there are also many different ways of living life.”
    When I was a kid in Flanders, our teachers would encourage us to learn languages by saying, “Every new language that you learn makes you a new person.” Because each language is a window into a culture.