I love the idiosyncrasies which arise between and in languages.
For example in English the sentence; “My orange is orange” could be translated into Dutch as “Mijn sinaasappel is oranje.” Oranje is not repeated in this instance because the Dutch distinguish between the fruit and the colour.
Going the other way, “Mijn bloem is geel” translates as “My flower is yellow.” But consider this sentence from a recipe; “Schudt de kip met een paar stukken tegelijk, in een plastic zak in de bloem met wat zout en peper door elkaar.” Which translates as “Shake the chicken, a few pieces at a time, in a plastic bag containing flour with some salt and pepper.”
“Flower” and “flour” are homophones of each other, sounding the same but being spelled differently. “Bloem” is a homonym, being a word which has the same spelling but different meanings.
I find it a fascinating coincidence that the Dutch use a homonym for an English homophone.
Although etymologically is should not be that much of a surprise as bloem and bloemen, originate as does “bloom” from old Norse while “flower” and “flour” originate from Latin florere to flourish, to thrive and of course to bloom.
At work, the departmental motto has been for many years, born out of bitter experience; “Trust nobody. Assume nothing.” It sounds cruel, unforgiving and entirely cynical. It is. But it stand us IT chaps in good steed, preventing ourselves and our clients more work, time and potential damage when attempting to determine the true nature of and resolve problems. Incomplete information usually leads to erroneous conclusions.
While one could adopt that as a personal motto, for day to day living, it may be a touch sardonic. In a generous concession to my inclusive humanitarianism, I have decided to appropriate this from Jim Hacker’s (un-named PM) in Yes Minister; “In defeat malice, in victory revenge.”
You should, if you can, head off to Den Haag and The Maurishuis to see the beautiful city and art but if you can’t and would like to see the most famous Vermeer in the world, this photo will save you money on the trip. Of all the photos of Het meisje met de parel I’ve seen on-line, this is the most realistic impression of what it’s like to stand in front of the painting. Click to zoom in!