Hello, I am Beate Brinkman, the bbr.harlekin.
I am editor and author for Harlekin.Blog e.V. and my “main job” is support coordinator in an international IT company. So far I have worked in German, Dutch, American and Indian companies and have acquired a great deal of experience of multicultural cooperation. I have been living in the Netherlands as a German for many years and have discovered that the cultural differences between Germans and Dutch alone could fill entire books.
For professional and private reasons, I am particularly interested in multicultural (mis)understanding. Whether it’s about food, language, official conference calls or the organisation of funerals – when the cultures of several countries collide, things get lively. And that leads to sometimes unpleasant, often very funny, but always instructive situations.
When we were expecting our latest grandchild, my husband and I were asked for our opinion on possible first names. Because the child’s relatives live in the Netherlands and Peru, it should be a name that is familiar in both countries and easy to pronounce in both languages. One of the names on the list was “Camilla” – and I was the one who spoke out against it because of the aforementioned association.
Since “indoor” group sports are not possible at the moment, I have been obliged to look around for yoga courses on YouTube – and without much enthusiasm at first. I found what I was looking for from a young woman from Berlin who explains really well and clearly indicates what matters in individual exercises. A real happy ending for me – in the meantime, “yoga with tablet” has become an enjoyable (and beneficial) part of my everyday life.
However, after the first few classes, I found that the blocks I had to overcome were less physical than linguistic. I had certain difficulties with prompts like “Let your forehead go all soft”, because whatever I had hoped for from yoga – a soggy noodle it was not.
On a metaphorical level, television viewers in the Netherlands have had a lot to digest in recent months, especially during the regular press conferences on Corona. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and “Corona Minister” Hugo de Jonge go to great lengths to convince the citizens of their country of the urgency of the situation. In doing so, the end is laudable, but the means are somewhat confusing.
I have been a passionate museum visitor for many years and hardly any exhibition is bizarre enough to put me off. Friends with so-called “niche interests” appreciate it very much if they don’t want to go alone, because I enthusiastically agree to go even when the rest of their social environment shake their heads in disgust. “Video installations from the 70s? – But of course!” “The special exhibition at the Microbe Museum? – Of course I’ll come!” “The development of weaving in the socio-political context of the industrial revolution? – Great! When do we go?“
In past articles I have written about international cooperation on company level. But there is also a lot to say on a purely private level. In my family and circle of acquaintances I am not the only one who has moved to another country to live with their partner. And during an exchange of experiences with other “impacted” people I have discovered interesting parallels.
So far, dear readers, I have presented many savoury (and mostly fried!) variations of Dutch cuisine. Today we’re going to talk about the afternoon – and the nice habit of ordering a piece of cake with your coffee on the way.
My colleague BCO, who in February in his article “Too much bloody choice!” shared with us his traumatic experience of ice cream selection in the Ben & Jerry’s factory, should be delighted in Dutch cafes, because often the selection consists only of “appeltaart with cream” and “appeltaart without cream”. Life can be so simple!
The Harlequin team says goodbye for the summer holidays. We wish you and ourselves a great time – and lots of inspiration for new contributions. Once again this year we‘ll publish a short article every Friday during the holidays, this time with the motto “Snapshots en route”. Here the first one:
When the trees wear surgical masks…
… you stop in fascination when strolling by. I am often out and about in the woods in all seasons, this was my first encounter with this trend in nature.
In my series on Dutch “specialities” I have so far owed you the frikandel. That will change today.
The frikandel is the most commonly consumed fried snack in the Netherlands (it even beats croquettes and bitter bal!s) and the first thing you need to know about it is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the German Frikadel!e (For the unitiated: the Frikadelle is a kind of fried meatball) The frikandel is a kind of sausage without skin and for many years it was considered a “guilty pleasure”, because all sorts of questionable ingredients were attributed to it. Among other things, it was said to have cow’s eyes, ears and udders.
The author of the following article is Caterina Berger. She works as a freelancer for the translation agency Linguation in the field of content creation and online marketing. She majored in Japanese Studies and is working towards a doctorate in General Linguistics. Her favourite area is sociolinguistics and intercultural communication. We are pleased to have her as a guest author.
Admittedly, my title is not exactly original, but there are good reasons for that. In fact it is hard to describe life as a translator more accurately. Between clients who question every syllable of their ten-year-old internship testimony and those who would like to have their 500-page dissertation translated into Chinese by the end of the week, we have the pleasure of coping with unpaid invoices, unclear instructions and corrupt file formats.
During my exchanges with friends about the Corona restrictions in our countries of residence and the way in which these are communicated to the citizens, I have found that we have a trump card here in the Netherlands that is not to be found in any other country: We have Irma!