January 5, 2019

Sexing up Amsterdam real estate with French names

Filed under: Architecture,Weird by Orangemaster @ 12:59 pm

Amsterdam real estate is in the hands of a selected few, including Prince Bernhard who owns a staggering 349 buildings in Amsterdam.

In the neighbourhood of ‘Bos en Lommer’ (aka Bolo, where 24HQ is located), a bunch of tall flat buildings are coming and will be sold to whomever can afford them: either rich Dutch folks or rich foreigners, the latter being bashed for buying houses that Dutch people in Amsterdam cannot afford, as if that was a new thing. And if rich Dutch people buy them, there’s much less bashing somehow.

And selling nice houses in a good neighbourhood needs a sexy name, n’est-ce pas? The brochure that is doing the rounds and making people laugh out loud swaps out ‘Bos en Lommer’ for a poor French translation, ’Bois & Lombre’ (‘Bois’ like ‘Bos’ means either woods, wood or forest and ‘Lombre’, meaning ‘shadow’ should be spelled ‘l’ombre’. And ‘Bos’ in Amsterdam usually refers to a park with lots of trees because we don’t have forests, a prime example of a sexed up term.

There’s a beautiful Dutch word that describes when someone uses English to make a Dutch word sounds sexier: ‘aandikengels’ (roughly, ‘thickening English’, thickening as in pouring it on thick).

We’re calling it, as a new Dutch word is born: ‘aandikfrans’ (‘thickening French’), which has no Google hits as I write this.

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September 2, 2018

An instagram of naked people drawn on mattresses

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 12:32 pm

Here’s a fun Dutch-based instagram account for you: the Mistress of mattresses: French woman Nastassja Guay Bonnabel draws naked women and men, both alone or together in all kinds of different configurations and poses on discarded mattresses in Amsterdam and clearly also abroad.

For over a year now, she’s been roaming the streets of the Dutch capital, looking for all kinds of mattresses to doodle on. Your old mattress could be next.

(Link: vice.com, Photo Mistress of mattresses)

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January 10, 2018

Dutch start-up shows translation gadget in Vegas

Filed under: Gadgets,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:28 pm


The CES in Las Vegas, a large exhibition of innovation, is currently showcasing some 50 Dutch start-ups, and one of them is Travis, presenting its real-time translation gadget Travis Translator, which costs 150 euro and can process 80 languages. However, the video below shows it doesn’t always work, but then maybe the person using it needs to learn how to use it a bit better.

The Travis Translator uses sites like Google and others to provide a live translation from one langue to another but also back again as people converse, which is a great idea. Some guys from Dutch tech site Bright.nl tried it out using Dutch on the Las Vegas Strip with tourists who spoke Japanese, English, Farsi and possibly Latvian or Lithuanian because the Dutch guy said ‘Latvanian’, which is nonsense and could have chosen the wrong language.

The first attempt with French at the beginning was wrong, but then the word Travis must have thrown the Travis off, and Latvian or possibly Lithuanian (someone tell us) turned up nothing at all as a translation, but then if the user thinks ‘Latvanian’ is a language, then the user could be at fault. Wouldn’t you want to the gadget to detect the language of a person like Google does? Maybe it does. And the interviewer does make a good point that it would be much better to have a phone app than yet another gadget to carry around.

Video in Dutch here, but also with some English.

(Link and screenshot: bright.nl)

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August 27, 2017

Student fights for 0.05 points to graduate

Filed under: Dutch first,General by Orangemaster @ 8:59 pm

An 18-year-old student from Breda is taking the Exam Board to court for having failed her final French exam by 0.05 points, preventing her from graduating and going to university in September.

While the Exam Board admitted that the question the student got wrong was not corrected properly, they did not admit to in a timely manner and the additional amount of points given afterwards was less than it was supposed to be, creating the 0.05 points shortage.

In fact, it has been known since this summer by everyone involved that this exam contained a handful of mistakes, even with multiple answers being correct. However, the correctors were obliged to correct the exams using an answer sheet with mistakes in it, which, even after having brought this to the Exam Board’s attention to be corrected, still had mistakes in it. In the words of a least one of my friends who teaches French here, c’est le bordel (it’s a mess).

Many of you know that the Dutch enjoy solving problems amicably, but the Exam Board is known for being reluctant to admit their mistakes despite having come under heavy fire as of late, especially with this French exam (in Dutch). A court is currently looking at the case, so the student does not miss her university registration deadline. According to the press, it’s also the first time that the Exam Board is going to court over this type of case.

If the student loses, this will get ugly and if the student wins, a whole bunch of other duped students will use the ruling in their favour, again putting pressure on the Exam Board to clean up their act. No wonder many Dutch students hate studying French.

UPDATE: The court found in favour of the Exam Board (in Dutch)

(Links: nu.nl, nos.nl)

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March 11, 2017

Disneyland France can’t seem to get Dutch staff

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 7:30 am

Why are there so few Dutch people working for Disneyland Paris? Besides French people, there are lots of Spanish and Italians, but very few Dutch speakers. Nicole Korssen from Eindhoven who works at Disneyland Paris explains that even though tons of Dutch people go to Disneyland on vacation, her employer’s recruitment days just can’t seem to close the deal. Disneyland Paris needs to have Dutch-speaking personnel seeing as they get about one million tourists from the Netherlands every year.

The first reason is that the Dutch don’t speak French well enough, something I’m thinking the Spanish and Italian actually can do. We can blame the Dutch educational system for not teaching French to children anymore, and that’s on the Netherlands. However, the lower salaries offered in certain positions, as compared to what the Dutch can make here doesn’t help, so that one’s on Disneyland.

And then there’s the fact that the Dutch are generally too tall to be ‘cast’ as characters. Too tall to be cast as Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse at 1.50 metres or even a princess at 1.65 metres. A quick search tells me the average height of a Dutch man is about 1.80 metres, the tallest on the planet, while the average Dutch woman is 1.70 metres.

Why don’t the Dutch get assistance in English when there’s a problem? According to Korssen, the Dutch choose to wait longer to be helped in Dutch. Why don’t they hire Flemish people who generally do speak some French and get paid less than the Dutch anyway? I don’t know, but I’m going to assume Disney would rather have actual Dutch people.

Dutch astronaut André Kuijpers does voice-over work for Disney.

(Link: businessinsider.nl)

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June 29, 2015

Sisters swap exams, get caught and fail

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 4:01 pm

In Utrecht a girl wanted to help out her sister pass her French exam by switching places with her during the exam and signing her name on the test. Since the older sister had been held back once before, both sisters were able to take the exam at the same time. However, the teacher noticed that the names on the test didn’t match the handwriting on the exam and eventually failed both pupils.

The mother of the two tried to appeal the decision, but the decision stands, and so far there’s no indication of either pupil being able to take the test again now. The youngest daughter had been selected to study medicine, but that’s probably not going to happen any time soon. C’est la vie.

(Link: www.waarmaarraar.nl)

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February 25, 2015

The Internet doesn’t replace satellite dishes

Filed under: General,IT by Orangemaster @ 12:51 pm

The ability to receive information in one’s language is no longer a sufficient reason to hang a satellite dish from your flat when there’s access to streaming through the Internet, according to a court in Amsterdam. Satellite dishes are forbidden in many flat buildings because they are ugly yet homeowners’ associations still have problems forbidding them altogether because telling people to ‘go use the Internet’ has its own problems, one of them being it comes off as xenophobic and possibly racist. Dutch and other Europeans have quite a few channels available to them through cable television, but many other foreigners do not and so they use a dish.

The Internet is also not free, so that’s not a good argument to ban dishes and go against ‘the ability to receive information’ according to European law and human rights. The case in question is about a man who wanted to watch Portuguese-language shows. The law says that if there’s enough information in your own language available on the Internet then you don’t need a satellite dish. I’m wondering what kind of Portuguese? Angolan, European, Brazilian, what?

Who gets to decide what my language would be as a foreigner? The only television station with any Canadian French was TV5 Monde, which my cable provider axed a few years ago and it does suck. Would that mean I am allowed to set up a dish? Would the Dutch government tell me French from France is good enough even though they don’t report any Canadian news? What if I didn’t understand European French? Satellite dishes may be ugly, but they do have a purpose, especially if cable companies continue to cut down on foreign channels. Dutch provider Ziggo is about to axe France 2, which has upset the French community here.

(Link: webwereld.nl, Photo by Kai Schreiber, some rights reserved)

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July 18, 2014

Taxis posing as Tour de France team cars

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 8:08 pm

Amsterdam’s taxi landscape is currently featuring mock team cars with bikes on them (pic) to promote Radio 1’s coverage of the Tour, which features French music, lots of manly conversation and the occasional defamatory comment. When stepping into one of these taxis, you can listen to Radio Tour de France and almost feel what it’s like to be in the Tour de France, well kinda, if you add some suspension of disbelief.

I think it’s a nifty idea, as I like the look of the cars, but then I would probably take a taxi when the Tour wasn’t on at night and part of my brain now wonders how long the bikes will stay there and what kind of bikes they are. The Tour will be starting in Utrecht next year by the way.

As you probably already know, Radio 1 won’t have any Tour de France coverage on at all today to leave space for the world news about the Dutch airplane shot down in Ukraine, taking the lives of 298 people, of which 189 where Dutch.

(Link: www.amsterdamadblog.com)

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July 16, 2014

French tourists ignore fines and sleep in their cars

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 9:36 pm

Maybe French tourists are onto something: why pay a lot of money for an overpriced, cramped Amsterdam hotel room when you can sleep in your car and get a parking fine you won’t have to pay in the end? Apparently, the fines the French are being issued are not being collected anyways, so pourquoi pas.

According to De Telegraaf some 20,000 parking fines were issued to French car owners over the last two years, but few fines were actually collected by Dutch authorities. Even blogs are telling the French to ignore those pesky fines, although the tax office claims they’ll have to pay eventually. I know many French friends who have come to Amsterdam, been fined for parking in the wrong place not being able to decipher what they had to do and never paid their fines.

According to local telly station AT5 French tourists are said to sleep in their cars, which upsets the locals. Maybe the tax office should collect those fines for real because when it comes to bureaucracy the French know how to snub the system more than you, you clueless Dutch tax office you.

(Link: www.at5.nl)

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March 18, 2009

Singer claims he’ll win song contest he can’t even enter

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 2:15 pm

My very talented friend Frances, part of the organisation of the Concours de la Chanson de l’Alliance Française (French Song Contest of the Alliance Française) here in the Netherlands was at the hairdresser’s this week and grabbed a tabloid while she was waiting.

Claude Francis, a Belgian singer who apparently sings international musical numbers in French, claims that he’ll win the above-mentioned song contest because he’s better than all the silly Dutch folk who know squat about French music. It may not read this way word for word in Dutch, but the repeated phone calls Frances received from this man pleading to be entered into the contest in order to win it kinda point that way.

What’s the big deal? It’s a Dutch contest and so you have to live in the Netherlands to enter it. He claims to have a girlfriend in a Dutch town and so he’s often in Netherlands, and he thinks that’s good enough.

Already claming to win a contest you can’t enter is just stupid — unless he was misquoted. Time to get a manager who can communicate, methinks.

(Photo: Privé, 11 March 2009)

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