Thursday, May 08, 2008

Nice Conversation

Dutch Überkitsch...
Originally uploaded by Blaauw
There are very few things Europeans love as much as bashing Americans as shallow or simple. One often hears for instance people stressing how the British English is sooooo much more advanced than the American English. But you could also turn that argument around by pointing out the difference between a class society and an immigrant society but that was not the subject I wanted to dive into.

Even if the argument about the simple American language would be true, simple language is really not something reserved for Americans. As my Dutch keeps getting better, I notice more and more how the public language functions with a shockingly limited vocabulary. The most amusing thing is the word lekker that means something like alluring, enticing, tasty, tempting and can on a single commercial break refer to everything from a pasta sauce to an insurance policy. It also seems to be the default reaction to 90 % of situations in Dutch life.

Today on the train back to Amsterdam I was listening to the 20-something girls sitting next to me. I sincerely wanted to start counting how much they used words lekker and leuk (meaning something like nice). The flatness of the vocabulary was not unfamiliar to me after three years and listening to the discussion made me once again appreciate the richness of my native language concerning making up words and playing with words. Call me a melodramatic Eastern European angst-driven snob but everything should not be just fine and nice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is a random group of 20-something girls representative for the richness of a country's language? Hopefully not. I think we still have some elegant wording and charm in our language. Agree that we might be lossing that fast though...
(what an excellent picture you put to this post, by the way...)