J R R Tolkien’s favourite Dutch number – Elf.
Recently, I’ve been dreaming – literally – of being back in The Netherlands. The UK (while it lasts) is so fucking shitty at the moment, what with ugly Brexiteers and repulsive Scot Nats making everything confrontational and unpleasant, that I felt the need to get away from it all. Of course I realise that The Netherlands is also riven, with Geert Wilders strutting about causing trouble and the Turks adding to the strife. However, being abroad and in lovely Utrecht, will still be a tonic (with gin) and cause for rejoicing.
This visit I’ll be using the centrally located city as a jumping off spot to travel to a couple of other places. East is Arnhem. West is Rotterdam and Delft. North is Amsterdam. Far north is Groeningen or possibly Leiden. I’ll be on the trains for a while but as most places are only an hour from each other, it will be entirely enjoyable!
Both my flights and hotel have been booked, so the countdown has started.
The Mauritshuis in Den Haag have just launched a brilliantly well designed and fun website all about The Goldfinch, the tiny, world famous painting by Carel Fabritius.
If you like a) art b) Dutch art from the Golden Age c) a really clever web site, d) birds including goldfinches – I like all of those – you could do worse than spend a relaxing 10 mins at http://puttertje.mauritshuis.nl/en/
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.
Languages are connected in so many ways.