November 14, 2020

Amsterdam featured in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War

Filed under: Food & Drink,Gaming by Orangemaster @ 1:42 pm

For those who don’t game, Call of Duty is a first-person shooter video game franchise from American company Activision.

Everything I saw and heard in the trailer below featuring Amsterdam is very realistic: the Dutch radio talk in the background at the very beginning, dog sounds (with the right reverberation) and police sounds.

That is some spacious apartment they start shooting in though, but it does fit that part of town. And there are actual police chases (not shoot-outs!) on rooftops in Amsterdam, I know a witness to one personally.

Set in part in the Red Light District, there’s also some joking around about ‘bitterballen’ (Dutch ragout filled balls, usually served when having beers) all in Dutch, with a joke about ‘balls’, as you do.

Have a look at Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War – we don’t own any shares (my co-blogger is more of a cavalry-and-musket type):

(Link:, image: YouTube screenshot)

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February 23, 2019

Dutch language Bachelor’s now history at VU Amsterdam

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 4:45 pm

The decline of Dutch studies was already in the cards in 2018, but now the first nail in the coffin has been hammered by the VU Amsterdam by shutting down the Dutch language Bachelor program.

The reason is simple: next to nobody wants to study Dutch at this major Amsterdam university. The program has five students interested this year, while the Literature and Society Bachelor’s degree has never attracted more than 10 students since 2013.

A spokesperson for the university claims it’s ‘irresponsible’ to continue to offer the Bachelor’s degree. However, there are still enough students for the Master’s program, but one wonders how long that will last.


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September 17, 2018

Students choosing Dutch studies steadily declining

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 2:12 pm


The VU Amsterdam University only has six students studying Dutch this study year, just one more than last year, which has academics worried. The Bachelor’s study Literature and Society is under a lot of pressure to peddle their wares, but people aren’t buying.

According to Professor Johan Koppenol, Professor of Old Dutch Literature, Dutch is one of the least popular subjects already at secondary school – here I thought it was French and/or German as a second language. As well, Koppenol claims that many secondary students believe that studying Dutch at higher levels is only good if you want to become a teacher, so there’s an image problem as well.

The Literature and Society Bachelor’s degree has in fact never attracted more than 10 students, explains Diederik Oostdijk, head of Language, Literature and Communication, as well as Professor of English at the VU. Two years ago the Bachelor was broadened in the hopes of attracting more students, but that’s not been successful. However, the English-language side of things gets some 50 students a year, most of which come from abroad.

Back in my days at university in Montreal, Canada in the 1990s, language studies from English to French (typically popular) to German and Russian (that is what I did, the least populated of them all), there was an academic appreciation for studying language and literature, but it was considered a fairly useless study unless combined with some more solid. I remember the Russian faculty head who also taught English literature told me that 80% of his English Studies students couldn’t find a proper job or ended up on welfare after their studies, with a few thousand dollars in debt as well. And I can tell you that the prospects for us Russian and Slavic Studies students was also shaky unless combined with something more solid. The idea of working as a transcriber of Russian mafia women’s phone conversations, which was more about recipes and less about possible coups, didn’t sell very well, either.


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September 8, 2018

Dutch and Flemish poetry now all in one database

Filed under: Literature by Orangemaster @ 1:56 pm


On the website run by Utrecht University, Dutch-language specialist Kila van der Starre has been attempting to inventory all public poetry in the Netherlands and Flanders for a year and a half now, and is already headed towards 2000 entries from 957 different poets.

The fun part is, everybody can participate by adding their findings in a database that is searchable by title and author. The author with the most entries so far is Ida Gerhardt with 35 poems.

Great stuff for anyone into Dutch-language poetry, as I’m assuming they’re only noting those ones – and rightly so. There are surely poems in other languages and dialects throughout the country.

(Link:, via, (Illustration: Dutch-American poet, artist and scientist Leo Vroman by Leo Vroman, self-portrait)

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September 5, 2016

Italian twins will make you want to learn Dutch

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 3:10 pm

Identical twins Ermano and Roberto who live in Sulmona, Italy and have never set foot in the Netherlands were interviewed by linguist Marc van Oostendorp of website They have recognisable Italian accents when they speak Dutch, but their syntax (word order) sounds pretty good, and they even correct themselves as they speak. They are motivated as well, which is more than I can say for many people here who can’t be arsed to learn Dutch.

These Ermano and Roberto are the antidote to that apathy. They are fans of Dutch television presenter Hans van der Togt, associated with the show ‘Raad van Fortuin’, (Dutch version of ‘Wheel of Fortune’,) and when asked what city they would like to visit if they could, they choose Maastricht first because they also watch television show ‘Flikken’ (‘Cops’), which is filmed there. Oh, and they watch satellite television because that’s the only way to get RTL4, their favourite station.

For all of you who can’t be arsed, the brothers’ enthusiasm is contagious, as is the charming way they finish each other’s sentences. And you’ll want to see them one day make that bucket list trip to the Netherlands, but since they have demanding jobs as cleaners, it won’t be easy, although it would be very cool.

Watch this Dutch video with English subtitles and some Italian countryside:

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March 7, 2016

Regional accent research confirms language discrimination

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 2:57 pm


I’ve been working with French Europeans lately and not 15 minutes goes by before someone points out my ‘charming’ French Canadian accent. The same group of people also work with North Africans and Dutch people who speak French but don’t point out their accents for fear of sounding either like racists toward non-Caucasians or insulting the white Dutch managers. It’s OK for a card-carrying French person to tell me as a white person from an ex colony that I have an accent, but they wouldn’t dare tell a black person from Senegal the same thing.

I explained this later down the pub to a French-speaking Dutch person who claims she doesn’t judge people by their accent right after telling me I had one. I asked her if she tells Dutch people who obviously have an ethnic background that they have an accent in Dutch and she says she wouldn’t do that, but didn’t tell me why. Someone then tried to explain that it’s because a ‘decent’ Dutch accent makes you accepted by the white Dutch majority, and recent research shows that a heavy ‘ethnic’ accent puts you at the bottom rung of the ladder where you’ll find the Dutch-Moroccans and their accent.

The Moroccan accent is said to have no prestige whatsoever and is seen as negative on all fronts by the predominantly white students interviewed in a recent survey, even though other ethnic groups and the native Dutch use words and pronunciations from this ethnolect. Researcher Stefan Grondelaers, who has a Flemish accent, says that Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and comedian Najib Amhali, both Dutch-Moroccans, have had to “limit their Moroccan accent to a minimum to get ahead”.

Researcher at the Radboud University in Nijmegen and linked to scientific research into Dutch regional accents, Grondelaers explains that we use stereotypes to avoid collecting information about others that we don’t intend to use, and this is part of our evolutionary process. He goes on to explain that when people judge each other’s accents based solely on what they hear, they make snap judgements.

A Dutch television program (kicks in at 25:10, in Dutch) that discusses the discrimination Dutch people with regional accents face would have been handy in the pub yesterday. A part of the video has two women in booths that cannot see each other. A younger woman with an accent from Drenthe reads the news to an older woman from the Randstad area, the ‘prestige accent of the country’. The older woman, knowingly enjoying her ‘standard’ accent, says the younger woman sounds like a farmer with a bad perm, big glasses, bad clothing, and whole bunch of other stereotypes that she couldn’t possibly know. Grondelaers explains that the woman with the Randstad accent can look down on others because all other accents are less prestigious than hers.

Another part of the video shows a Dutch-Morrocan man trying to get a test drive for a car who is treated very differently on the phone than a white Dutch speaker. It’s so bad that the person on the other end does nothing to keep the conversation going. The Dutchman gets everything he wants and actual conversation. Grondelaers basically states that people are simply “racist beasts that walk upright.”

(Link:, Photo of Djellabas by Roel Wijnants, some rights reserved)

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May 18, 2015

ISIS terrorists use fake passports from ‘Enshede’

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 4:01 pm


When rebels raided an ISIS safe house in northern Syria, they secured dozens of passports stolen from Westerners, Al Aan TV reports.

Among the many real passports was also this forged Dutch passport signed by the mayor of ‘Enshede’. Since there is no place called Enshede (but Enschede exists), border controls should have no problems stopping the holders of other copies.

Using the sch-sound to separate the good guys from the bad has long been practice in the Netherlands and Flanders, especially since foreigners don’t seem to be able to pronounce it correctly. The Flemish are said to have used the war cry ‘schild ende vriend‘ (shield and friend) during the Battle of the Golden Spurs to differentiate themselves from the French, and fishermen returning to the main land after the Nazi attack on 10 May 1940 were told to use the password Scheveningen to tell them apart from German agents.

I am guessing the forger wrote the name Enschede the way he heard it.

(Link: RTL Nieuws, Photo: Al Aan TV / RTL Nieuws)

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October 31, 2014

Florida woman attempts fraud in Dutch and fails

Filed under: Weird by Orangemaster @ 11:25 am


A woman in Florida faked slipping and falling on the floor at chain store Target in order to defraud her insurance company. Margaret Dagniewska, 38, told a Target employee that she injured her neck, back, legs and shin at the store.

First, the surveillance camera shows her sitting down and second – the funny bit – she called her mother in Dutch telling her that she was sitting on the floor. Little did she know that a store employee understood Dutch and made a right fool of Dagniewska.

When the paramedics showed up, they left Dagniewska sitting there to get up on her own. The woman was eventually jailed for fraud. Dagniewska is a known defrauder, and it is not know if she is a card-carrying Dutch or maybe Belgian national.

(Link:, Photo of mop and bucket by Phil Parker, some rights reserved)

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March 19, 2014

Dutch artists cover current pop hits, good or bad?

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am


Radio station 100% NL broadcasts Dutch music sung in Dutch or from Dutch artists and has recently decided to expand its reach by commissioning Dutch-language versions of currently English-language pop hits. The project is called ‘Let’s Go Dutch’ and was launched last week. First up is Charly Lusky with ‘Ik heb iets’ (roughly, ‘I’ve got something’, ‘there’s something happening’, you get the idea), a cover of Pharrell Williams’ Happy, see the first video below.

Covering current English-language pop hits to have more to play on the air is fine, however the comments on are mostly negative to put it mildly. I have nothing against the voice of Charly Lusky in this music video, but then I’d rather hear Pharrell Williams. As a non native Dutch speaker the lyrics of the Dutch version sound insincere and artificial, something a Dutch artist would never have written on their own. It’s like there’s no added value in the Dutch version.

Many people feel the translation sounds like it’s for dummies, level-wise. The background singers still sing ‘happy’, a word the Dutch have been using for a few years now instead of the Dutch word ‘blij’ or ‘gelukkig’, which means they left in some English after all.

As a Dutch blog puts it in English, is it a hit or is it shit? Give it a whirl and tell us what you think.

Charly Lusky – Ik heb iets

The original Pharrell Williams – Happy

(Links:,, Photo by Quistnix, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0)

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August 12, 2011

A short guide to Venloish given names, with translations in Dutch, English, German and French

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 12:50 pm

Slow news day, so I thought I’d try something different. Here is a list of (short form) given names from my city of birth, Venlo, and their translations into Dutch, English, German and French, where possible.

Dutch Venloish English / German / French
Jan (jAn) Sjeng (sjeN) John / Jan* / Jean
Bert (bErt) Baer (beIr) Bert / ? / Albert
Geert (xeIrt) Sjraar (sjrAr) ** ? / ? / Gérard
Sjaak (sjAk) Sjaak Jack / ? / Jacques
Ton (tQn) Twan (twAn) Tony*** / ? / Tony
? Hay (hɑI) ? / ? / ?
Marieke (mAri:k@ Merieke (m@ri:k@) Mary / ? / Marie
Theo (teIjQ) Thei (tei) Theo / Theo / Théo

Pronunciations between parentheses. I used the SAMPA alphabet for readability. Like IPA it’s a phonetic alphabet, but unlike IPA it only uses Latin symbols). I used the SAMPA English phonetic alphabet though, so the pronunciations listed here are the closest approximations—in my humble opinion. But note, for instance, that ‘a’ (as in Jan) and ‘aa’ (as in Sjaak) have completely different pronounciations in Dutch. (In Dutch long vowels are typically spelled with a double letter, and short vowels with a single letter. Exceptions abound.)

Other Limburgish dialects may use the same names as Venloish, or have wildly differing variants. The Dutch word for the short form of a given name is roepnaam by the way. I have no idea of its etymology, and it could mean either ‘handy version of a name for shouting’ or ‘name one is known by’.

Any additions and corrections are welcome.

*) Recent or regional.
**) If this were Dutch it woud mean “shush, crazy”.
***) From Italian Antonio.

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