April 14, 2019

Most Dutch people talk to their pets

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 11:34 pm

Assocation of language lovers Onze Taal (‘our language’) has published the results of an informal poll that suggests that 95% of all Dutch pet owners talk to their pets.

The type of pet and whether or not the animal is deaf doesn’t seem to matter. People address their pets in their local dialect.

Popular ‘conversations’ are: admonishments, compliments (“Who is the cutest kitten in the world? You are!”), sharing what the owner is going to do (“Mummy is going to the pet store”) and, apparently, deliberation (“Is it OK if I move your bowl over here?”).

People don’t just talk to pets, but also inanimate objects. Furniture gets apologised to when bumped into, and encouragements are uttered towards blocked robotic vacuum cleaners and bent trees.

The poll was held in January among the visitors of the association’s website.

(Photo by Eddy Van 3000, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , , ,

October 11, 2018

Google Home Minis understand some Dutch, but not enough

Filed under: General,Technology by Orangemaster @ 1:12 pm

According to someone who works for Bright.nl, yesterday all of a sudden their Google Home Minis, a type of wireless speaker and voice command device with an integrated AI-based virtual assistant started to understand his commands in Dutch. Before then, his entire family had to ask for everything in their best American English.

After choosing Dutch as a default language, all devices stopped working except the Hue lamps, a line of colour changing LED lamps with wireless control, and the Honeywell thermostat. Sending images from the front door to the television with the Dutch command ‘Hey Google, show me the front door on TV40’ produced a YouTube video about front doors on the telly.

A day later, Hue dropped out, with an error that the lighting was no longer available. Bright hopes that Dutch language support will be working properly on 24 October when Google Home speakers will officially be available in Dutch shops. I’d hate to be working in a shop that is going to get a wave of complaints with no fix in site or be told to use it in English or German. And I wonder if it will understand those of us who speak Dutch with accents.

For the advanced class, here’s the discussion about Dutch accents within the country, such as is it Leiden, Leide or Leye? It depends where you’re from, but that’s still not good enough.

(Link: bright.nl, Photo: consumentenbond.nl)

Tags: , , ,

August 13, 2018

What’s your pick for ugliest Dutch word?

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 9:49 pm

Marc van Oostendorp, a well-known Dutch linguist, decided to ask foreign students recently what they thought was the ugliest Dutch word.

In the video below (in Dutch), a Polish student said ‘geheugen’ (memory) because it does sounds like a Dutch cat trying to cough up a hairball. A Hungarian student, who sounds more Belgian than Dutch, said ‘überhaupt’ (‘as a whole’) because it’s straight up German, much to the amusement of everyone in the video. Another student from the United States, came up with ‘vruchtbaarheid’ (‘fertility’), but didn’t offer up an explanation as to why. A Spanish student came up with ‘ziekenhuis’ (‘hospital’) “because nobody likes to be lying in the hospital”, which means the meaning was more interesting to her than the sound of the word. An Argentinean student who learnt Dutch in Belgium chose ‘tureluurs’ (‘loopy’), a word that is probably used in written form more often than common speech.

Funny enough, all the students interviewed were women: what’s up with that?

Feel free to tell us if you can and want to: what Dutch word is the ugliest for you? I think mine would have to be any word that starts with ‘sj’ like ‘sjalot’. It sounds like your teeth are in the way of pronouncing ‘shalot’ properly, but to each their own.

Tags: ,

May 7, 2018

Dutch mortgages too tough to read

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 4:15 pm

According to Utrecht University, Dutch mortgage deeds have been recently called one of the most unintelligible documents to read in the Dutch language. Sure, it’s full of jargon and legal terms, but it is also contains too much information per sentence, sentences that are too long in any case, unnecessary auxiliary verbs and one of my pet peeves, too many passive sentences. Even campaign flyers and research articles are written more succinctly than mortgage documents, a conclusion linguists reached after analysing the written materials of 42 mortgage deeds from 21 agents.

And even after simplifying the 42 deeds, only 69 percent of respondents said they understood the newer version, as compared to 57 who understood the old versions.

Besides barely understanding what you’re signing up for even for native Dutch speakers, many articles will tell you that the Dutch have the highest household-debt levels in the euro zone, which is all due to mortgages costing more than the value of people’s homes. Amsterdam being the place to be for many people, it is currently on a real estate bubble list, moving from ‘overvalued’ in 2015 and 2016 to ‘bubble risk’ in 2017.

(Link: nu.nl)

Tags: , ,

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)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

January 2, 2018

Worst slogan of 2017 about sausage rolls

Filed under: Animals,Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 4:08 pm


The winner of the worst business slogan of 2017 is De Korenbloem in Mill with ‘Van kop tot kont, worst in de mond’ (roughly, literally and figuratively, ‘From top [head] to bottom [arse], sausage in the mouth’, as in from beginning to end, sausage in your mouth. You get the idea and it sounds gross in Dutch as well.

Second place goes to ‘Voor iedere gleuf een doos’ (Moniss packing materials, Lelystad), which is ‘For every slit (possibly, tab), there’s a box’; ‘gleuf’ is slang for female genitalia and so is ‘box’. Third place is ‘Alles om uw poes mee te verwennen. Ook als u een kater heeft (‘Everything to pamper your pussy, even if you have a (male) cat.’) from 4 Cats. Yes, the image I snapped from the Amsterdam shop is Dunglish and there should be a space between ‘cat’ and ‘food’.

This was the sixth edition of the Dutch Bad Slogans Awards and if they are not disgusting, they are usually sexist or really bad puns, from head to arse.

(Link: www.sloganverkiezing.nl)

Tags: , ,

December 11, 2017

Cheesiest slogans of 2017 up for vote

Filed under: Animals,General by Orangemaster @ 11:52 am

Yes, 2016 had a real winner with ‘Zit je haircut’. Pronounce ‘hair’ in English and ‘cut’ (‘kut’) in Dutch, the latter being the word for what the Brits call the ‘c-bomb’, but in this case means ‘shitty’.

Here are some contenders for the ‘Worst Business Slogans of 2017’: ‘Voor iedere gleuf een doos’ (Moniss packing materials, Lelystad), which is ‘For every slit (possibly, tab), there’s a box’. The problem is that ‘gleuf’ is slang for female genitalia and so is ‘box’. For the advance students, it might remind you a bit of this song by Herman Brood. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s ‘Wees geen domme gans, steun de Dierenambulance!’ (Animal ambulance, Amsterdam), which translates as ‘Don’t be a silly goose, support the animal ambulance!’. It rhymes in Dutch and has a cheesy, family-friendly animal pun.

And there’s always the aural squinting, where you have to read one word in Dutch and one word in English to make the joke work that in fact doesn’t work at all. In that category, there’s ‘Haring is caring’, from the herring monger at camping Bakkum near Amsterdam. ‘Haring’ (herring) is then pronounced in Dutch ‘HA-ring’, which doesn’t rhyme with ‘caring’ in English. In fact, ‘Herring is caring’ would have been less fishy.

The winners will be announced later this week.

(Link: trouw.nl)

Tags: , , , , ,

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)

Tags: , , , , ,

September 22, 2016

A regional Dutch accent means a smaller paycheck

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 3:22 pm

Women make less than men – check, white people make more than others – check, and in the same vein, Dutch people who speak with a regional accent get paid less, according to economy professor Jan van Ours of Tilburg University. Van Ours noticed that age, level of education or coming from a village or a city didn’t make a difference, but accents did.

Van Ours, who grew up with the dialect of Goeree-Overflakkee, South Holland, says nobody had ever done research into the economic impact of speaking with a regional accent before. While 40% of the Dutch have grown up with an accent, it is possible and plausible that people are discriminated against because of the way they speak. He also says that someone with a heavy Limburg accent working at a call centre could be more difficult to understand than someone who speaks standard Dutch (‘Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands’). I admit I called Dutch Rail once and hung up on someone who had an accent I couldn’t place that was so thick, I had no clue what they were saying. And sometimes when co-blogger Branko is tired and speaks to me with his Limburg accent, I have no clue, either.

There’s enough prejudice going around that if someone speaks with a heavy regional accent they are perceived as being dumber – I get this as a foreigner and it’s normal. Confirming this prejudice, foreigners and migrants also take lessons to get rid of their accent and sound more like standard Dutch speakers, including born and bred Amsterdam residents who speak with the city’s dialectal accent. Some people from areas like Het Gooi, North Holland have a specific accent, but because it’s a rich part of the country people don’t point out their accent as quickly as they do others.

24oranges HQ is run by two people with regional accents, but I don’t see us doing anything about it anytime soon.

(Link: www.ad.nl, Photo of wilted tulip by Graham Keen, some rights reserved)

Tags: , ,

June 28, 2016

Dutch language a poor choice to describe smells

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 11:45 am


According to linguists Ilja Croijmans and Asifa Majid of the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Dutch language is a bad choice for describing smells, and therefore not great for wine-tasting. However, Dutch wine experts are getting better at describing smells by using very colourful language, something the average person would not do. Then again, pointing out that experts are actually better than ordinary folks sounds odd, considering that’s usually the point of being an expert.

To drive the point home, ordinary mortals and wine experts tasted wine and coffee, to see which group used what kind of language in their descriptions of smells and flavours. The wine experts were better at describing both wine and coffee, although both wine and coffee experts were no better than novices at naming everyday smells and tastes, showing that the expertise benefits are limited to the specific smells and flavours used to train experts, and not to more general ones.

For anyone who sucks at finding words other than ‘fruity’ (calling wine ‘sweet’ is often a no-no) and ‘dry’, Dutch wine shops and even supermarkets sell wine by numbers, which represent some sort of range between ‘fruity’ and ‘dry’ for us plebs.

(Links: www.ru.nl, phys.org, Photo of Arrogant Frog wine by Martin Ujlaki, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , ,