For all intents and purposes, I'm Dutch

February 12th, 2006

See, I never made that announcement, I didn't walk around the city with a megaphone, I didn't take out an ad in the paper, I didn't spam people with that message, I didn't put it on my website, I have never uttered those words ever. Yet it seems that the world is under the impression that I did. Several times everyday people are talking Dutch at me. In just under three weeks in this country, people have asked me for directions on three separate occasions. Sometimes even after I start a conversation in English, a person will attempt to continue it in Dutch. At times the opening statement is so long that I have to interrupt it to interject "sorry, I don't speak Dutch". It happened to me in the computer lab the other day, some poor sap couldn't figure out how to ssh to a linux box (prolly a bachelor student), so he launched this tirade of Dutch words at me. I ended up helping him do it.

Thus it seems clear that as people look at me, they think "this guy is obviously Dutch". It may be because people in NL are so assimilated that there is no stereotype for how Dutchmen look. Or it may be that there is a stereotype and I somehow qualify for it. In any event, it's obvious that I fit in here without making the slightest effort. If I happen to learn Dutch some day, I could actually keep it up all the way through. I don't suppose I could pull that off in say Italy, somehow Italians always know that I'm not one. Not that it bothers me, I'm Dutch afterall.

:: random entries in this category ::

5 Responses to "For all intents and purposes, I'm Dutch"

  1. erik says:

    Some historians have accredited Holland's golden age (the 17th century) entirely to immigration; arguing that without it, this small country could never have competed with France and Britain for as long as it did. It would simply have lacked manpower.
    As a result; one theory claims the Dutch stereotype ceased to exist several centuries ago and the Dutch people have got used to immigration a relatively much longer time ago than most other Europeans, which would lead to a national attitude of assuming everyone walking around within the borders of this nation possesses the nationality.

    In other words: everyone's Dutch.

    It's also been said that the centuries old mass-immigration has caused this nation to be completely void of one dominant ("Dutch") culture; which means that aside from appearance-stereotypes, there are also no cultural-stereotypes that one has to meet when moving here, if one wished to assimilate.

  2. ash says:

    I've got to say, going to live in a country where you don't speak the language is pretty brave. Or something else. But maybe it's less daunting to people who are multilingual anyway.

    I haven't really got much to say about this except that, coincidentally, I laughed a lot when I read Dooce's entry today about trying to speak Dutch. (

  3. Diana says:

    But I must honestly admit, that when Erik sent me some pictures from Italy, and you were in it, I didn't know that you were not Dutch, I just assumed you were. It's your looks, somehow you fit in. :D

  4. numerodix says:

    [3] I rest my case.. :D

  5. erik says:

    Well beats suffering racism I suppose ;)