A while ago, elections were held in the Netherlands – and as in Germany, this fact had a great impact on all the news programmes and political talk shows in the weeks beforehand, where viewers were confronted with rather contrived and tiring battles of words. The situation in the Netherlands is somewhat confusing simply because it takes four or five parties to form a government (out of a total of 18 (!) parties represented in parliament) rather than two or three as in Germany.
A breath of fresh air came from the Dutch “Jeugdjournaal” – the daily children’s news programme I became a fan of when I started learning Dutch years ago. The top candidates of the six largest parties were guests there three days before election day, along with children, of course (this time only a dozen, due to Corona).
Let’s be clear from the start: This post is not about the excessive use of alcohol! This time it’s actually exactly what it says.
Several years ago, a former colleague and still good friend of mine, a Frenchwoman who lives in Germany, came into the office in the morning completely shocked. She told me that she had spoken to her mother in France on the phone that morning and in the course of the conversation wanted to tell her that she had bought a new bathrobe. But she couldn’t think of the French word for “bathrobe”! She was very startled by this and feared that she was forgetting her mother tongue.
M.C. Escher, a Dutch graphic designer/artist born 120 years ago – he keeps going viral on social media and almost has pop star status. Who doesn’t know his graphics? Impossible perspectives, metamorphoses and optical illusions are the programme in his pictures and an almost endlessly repeated theme. A brilliant visionary!
My first conscious acquaintance with what is meant by respect, without knowing the term, was in early childhood as the – sometimes forceful – demand to obey and behave respectfully towards my parents and grandparents.
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.
The range of different clever pronouncements on the subject of “waiting” demonstrate the ambivalence of perception. While some emphasise its benefits (Leo Tolstoy: “Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait.”) others prefer to emphasise the impatience aspect (Damaris Wieser: “Waiting for something only robs us of the time we won’t have later when we need it.”)
Waiting is the “experience of time” and therefore this ambivalence is hardly surprising. Anyone who has children knows about the “Are we nearly there?” after about three minutes of driving, which is often used interchangeably with “I need the loo!” but that doesn’t matter. The critical reader may argue that this example is about boredom, i.e. forced idleness coupled with lack of stimulus, which is also a form of waiting, only in an intensified form. In the same vehicle, however, the parents are happy about the holidays that have begun (anticipation).
“Everything is always there in her. Past and future she knows not. The present is her eternity.” (Georg Christoph Tobler on nature)
Do you own a garden? I see it as a place of diversity and also of evolutionary anarchy. Or can you get out into “nature”, woods, fields, vineyards without much effort? If you can’t, you can also hear them in the city. Because if you listen carefully, you will notice that the air is once again filled with a multi-faceted cacophony! The birds are getting into the act and making as much noise as leaf blowers usually do, only nicer. In his book of that name published in 2015, Bernd Brunner writes of “Birdmania” to which, I confess, I too have been addicted for very many years. But, I am fine. Thank you for asking.
The first weeks of 2021 are already over and a familiar ritual is repeating itself. Well, around this time gym registrations usually skyrocket….
But didn’t we also have the more or less usual resolutions at the beginning of 2020? It wasn’t meant to be – and you can, I think, clearly pinpoint one culprit in 2020. @Harlekin Rüdiger: did you have viruses in your series on the art of blaming?
Note from the translator: The more astute reader will swiftly recognize the absurdity of the translation into English of a lament about the use of the German language. Such abuses exist in a modern world where presentation is more important than content. The Top Ten English words for 2020 include, apart from the inevitable phrases relating to Covid-19 and video-conferencing, such memorable terms as “BLM” (Black Lives Matter), “Karen” (a prejudiced, privileged middle-aged person criticizing condescendingly), Megxit (referring to ex?-Prince Harry and Meghan). A clear indication of the applicability of VUCA everywhere. My apologies too if the text is hard to decipher due to terms beyond the vocabulary of even an American president. Nevertheless, I ask you to give Harlekin RGE a chance in English, since his appeal for a more critical examination of the words we use is hardly restricted to the German-speaking world.
If I claimed just a short while ago that ‘resilience’ had become the new jack-of-all-trades and thus joined the Olympian vocabulary of every project management expert, I must correct myself.