Right now lots of extra people are homeless due to Hurricane Sandy. But I’m going to write about some of the long-term homeless in Austin who I meet while waiting for a green light on my many drives around town. If for no other reason than that I already had most of this post ready before Sandy hit. Continue reading
One thing I’ve learned is the difference between Dutch politeness and Texan politeness.
To A Texan, being polite is not just a matter of saying please and thank you, holding the door open for the person coming behind you, not belching loudly at the dinner table, etc. It also means avoiding embarrassing someone. Continue reading
Posted in Language, Society
Tagged America, Amerika, beleefdheid, cultural differences, culture, embarrassment, humor, kulturele verschillen, language, manners, Nederland, omgangsvormen, politeness, society, The Netherlands, verlegenheid
Cartoon by O’Farrell
One of my readers asked me a while ago to give my take on the apparent ambiguity between the American “melting pot” diversity and America’s dissociation from the rest of the world. Well, here it is. My take. I’m fully aware that I’m generalizing the heck out of this, but the question itself is generalizing, so that makes it totally okay. Continue reading
As I’ve explained in previous posts, we were on vacation when our son B’s appendix ruptured. He had an appendectomy and was in the hospital in Cody, Wyoming for four days. Six days after coming home to Austin, he had pains again, and had to have a follow-up surgery, and he has been in the hospital here in Austin for six days now. And when I say that B has been in the hospital, I really mean our family has been in the hospital. Continue reading
Another question I got from my funk post was: What do European kids learn about American history. Well, I can only talk about what I learned, but feel free to add to it in the comments, Dutch readers.
I had History several times a week, from seventh through eleventh grade, and from Mesopotamia to the Vietnam War, more or less. I seem to remember that we started learning about America in tenth grade, and it would have continued through eleventh grade, whenever America came up in realtion to a certain period. This would have been around 1977-1978. I’ll just describe what I remember; trying to be systematic after all those years wouldn’t work. Continue reading
In my previous post I asked what my readers would like me to write about. I realized later that I would be in big trouble if I got no reply. Would that mean that no one is interested in what I say? Or they don’t care? Or what if I have no readers that day? Would reposting the question be too desperate? This could very well spell the end of my blog. But fortunately someone did reply. Phew, thanks, Hanneke, for averting my existential crisis! Continue reading
I am going to commit one of the biggest faux pas you can commit in America. I’m going to correct your grammar, Americans!
Yes, my Dutch friends, it’s considered impolite at best to correct anyone’s grammar here.When you do, people think you’re pedantic, rude, or a “grammar nazi”.
I will write about the inflation of the word “nazi” some other time.
So back to you, my American readers. Let me explain myself. Continue reading
Posted in Education, Language
Tagged American etiquette, American manners, Americans' aversion to correcting mistakes, Amerikaanse grammatica, Correcting grammar, cultural differences America - the Netherlands, culture, Engelse grammatica, preposition-pronoun agreement, pronoun-preposition agreement, pronoun-verb agreement, writing
I had been asked to be a bridesmaid. This was a big test: could I do it? Could I stand in a row with five American women, in front of a church congregation, without being the odd one out? Yes. I would just have to do it. I would just have to forget my Dutch sense of individuality and put on a dress that I was ordered to wear – the exact same dress that five other women would be wearing – and walk for several hours in high-heeled shoes of someone else’s choice. I would have to ‘have my hair done’ – in a style, at a time, and at a location determined by others – and I would have to ‘have my nails done’ with a polish that was handed out at the bridesmaids’ luncheon. Continue reading
Apparently having good company for your birthday is not enough when you go out to eat. In many restaurants the personnel sings a song for the celebrant. And everyone in the restaurant will know about it. The waiters meet near the kitchen and start clapping as they walk to the birthday person’s table. Often they sing and clap their very own house-birthday song: Continue reading