Greg Shapiro Wrote the Foreword for this Dutch Dictionary
13 November, 2023
Flashback to 2008:
Our good friends at DutchNews.nl were writing a guide to Dutch abbreviations, called the Dictionary of Dutchness: from ATV to ZZP’er. And I was asked to write the Foreword.
Here it is again:
Welcome to this fine collection of bizarre words and phrases in the world’s best Nether-language: Dutch.
Many people will no doubt want to use this book as a practical guide to practical Dutch. But please consider its true value – as a sometimes hilarious exercise in explaining the charming and ridiculous abbreviations in the Dutch language.
Dutch people are among the tallest in the world. Fittingly, the words they use are often just as ‘long.’ If you have ever wondered how onroerendezaakbelasting can exist as a word, read on. If you have ever suspected that some short simple words like aso are actually hiding longer, more threatening words, then this book is for you.
The Dutch language seems obsessed with taking long words and then making them small and cute. Maybe that’s because Dutch culture has a minderwaardigheidscomplex (minority complex). Or – to make this word smaller and cuter too – MiWaCo (pronounced “me wacko”).
Even the famous Dutch fast food outlet FEBO is named after the location of its first-ever shop on the Ferdinand Bolstraat. They could better have named it FerBol – since the contents of a Dutch kroket resemble something a cat coughed up.
If I got any more passionate about this book, the vloekmonitor would call me a TBS-er, and I’d never get a VOG. To find out what I just said, read on!
Warning: By reading this guide to the Dutch language, you risk becoming more knowledgeable about Dutch than the Dutch themselves, who always lose to the Belgians on the TV quiz show Tien voor Taal.
In closing, when I say the Dutch language is charmingly ridiculous, please don’t believe me. Believe the thousands of Dutch people who feel the same way. But if you want them to admit it, you’ll have to first throw some Dutch language at them. Hopefully this book will help. And once they start answering back in Dutch lingo, this book will give you some idea of what the hell they’re talking about.
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Greg Shapiro’s latest book is THE AMERICAN NETHERLANDER: 25 Years of Expat Tales. (I hear it’s quite funny.)