Once you have become familiar with the sounds of the Dutch language in any way it becomes a very easy language to recognize and once you can recognize it you will realize it is impossible to escape the Dutch. They are everywhere. No matter which far away country you run to you will find them or they will find you.
This was something I was reminded of during my holiday to Scotland last summer. Everywhere I went the Dutch were there and I don’t just mean this because I was traveling with my Dutch girlfriend.
At first it did not come as a surprise when we heard Dutch amongst the other multitude of languages being spoken in our Edinburgh and Glasgow hostels. We did not go a single day without hearing the familiar throat clearing sound of the Dutch language from unknown Dutch people.
However, when we went even higher north into the highlands of Fort Williams and we were still hearing Dutch I started to wonder if I should get a restraining order.
One evening while we were enjoying a quite meal in an Indian restaurant I spotted a couple approaching the menu in the window for a read. From the way the man was dressed I got the strong impression that he was Dutch. I quickly dismissed this theory since it was possible that fashion had simply gotten that colorful and that bad in the rest of the world.
However, I quickly discovered I was right the first time when a short while later they entered the restaurant and spoke to the waiter in an accent so thick that I thought they were about to order a tandoori stamppot (I breathed a sigh of relief for the fashion sense of the rest of the world).
The following day we visited Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland. I felt pretty confident that it would be just us, some sheep and the odd Scotsman. We had not been at the summit for five minutes before I heard a child shouting, “Mama, kijk,” several times as he expressed his absolute surprise (and maybe fear) at being (a) above sea level and (b) on a vertically inclining surface steeper and higher than a speed bump (more commonly known as a hill).
Maybe that was it. Maybe we had never actually arrived in Scotland. Maybe we were actually in some rare part of Holland that had hills.
During the train trip from Scotland to London (which was starting to feel more and more like it was for the purposes of escaping the Dutch) we were still surrounded by Dutch couples speaking their native tongue.
By the time we arrived in London to stay with my parents I had heard so much Dutch that I would not have battered an eye lash if they had greeted us with, “Dag. Hoe gaat het?”