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donderdag, april 13, 2023

The Dutch

The Dutch are known for their directness. They say it as it is. Some consider that rude but the Dutch find it mostly practical. Why make a compliment if you don't mean it? Why say 'sorry' if you don't mean it? And why waste time with politeness if it doesn't help to get the job done?

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One of my favourite Dutch expressions is 'De goden verzoeken', 'To challenge the gods'. Meaning 'Neem niet teveel hooi op je vork', i.e. literally 'Don't take too much hay on your (pitch)fork', or 'Don't take on a challenge when you know you won't be able to handle it'. Also: 'Don't do or say something if you're not willing to accept the consequences.' In short: Why take a risk when you really don't have to? 

I gues the Dutch are - generally speaking of course - a pragmatic people.

It all goes back to the early history of the pin prick on the globe that these days is known as The Netherlands:
Historically people from all over the world came to The Netherlands because the lands are fertile and because of its geographic location. The latter making it a perfect gateway to the Scandinavian and other European countries. As well as to other continents. 

Because of those two properties, the country has always been a producing and trading nation. And because of the physical challenges also a country where lots of inventions come from: from windmills to brandy ('Brandewijn', 'burned wine': heating wine to evaporate the water in it and you could transport more barrels, thus making a bigger profit. The Dutch try anything to make a few bucks extra), the telescope, artificial islands, the microscope, the 'Dutch door' (you can open the top side, leaving the lower side closed to keep your children indoors and animals out. Or vice versa, depending on what kind of parent you are)
printing, the sub marine, the stock market, the storm proof umbrella... 

All that knowledge combined leads to engineering marvels like the Veluwemeer Aquaduct:

For a large part those inventions came out of the necessity to fight a natural enemy: water. 

When a local dike breaks and your farm is in danger of getting flooded, you don't waste time making your neighbour a compliment on the new hairdo of his oldest daughter. Or even say: 'Good morning, my dear neighbour! How are you doing this fine day? Would you mind if I asked you a question?' No, you shout over the fence: 'Yo, I need your help. Now!'

You may not even like your neighbour because he or she has a different religion or skin colour or speaks a different language. But you help. And that goes both ways. You simply help when someone obviously needs it. Being Dutch means that after the breach in the dike is fixed you can buy eachother a drink in the local tavern and hate eachother again for believing in different gods. Or for believing in the same god but in a different way.

Of course also the Dutch are all individuals and I'm speaking in general terms. 

What do you think of the Dutch and perhaps you have a favourite Dutch expression you're willing to share?

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