Spinning aftermath

| Life in Holland | 10 Comments

There I was again one evening at the fitness center called Living Well. After nearly an hour of intense spinning followed by a nice warm sauna (my reward for a good job done), I had this really good-feeling about everything while I was putting my clothes back on downstairs in the dressing room. To my left there were a couple of dark-colored folks going on happily in some foreign language just laughing about nothing particular, either Turkish or Moroccan I don't know which. Over to my right was this Dutch guy with whom I had done the bike exercise, a burley fellow with lots of dark hair coating most of his exposed (muscular) body. He was distracted by the intense conversation from the other two young bucks and had this tight frown stretched across his face as he glanced in their direction. After the two left all laughing and the door slammed shut behind them, the Dutch person turned to me and said, "Don't you just hate it when they speak like that, I mean can't they just learn Dutch like everyone else?!" There was this hatred beaming out from his eyes, and I was almost shocked by this look from hell. Despite his threatening demeanor, I felt brave and told him how I actually felt about it. Okay now, let's be honest about it if you dare. "Well," I mentioned nonchalantly, "afterall it is their mother tongue, so I can imagine that it is more convenient for them to speak it among themselves." He either did not like this answer of mine or he simply had not heard it, or maybe he was just restraining himself from murdering me. "You know," he continued, "why don't they just talk like they are supposed to or just get out." Out of the country, is what he meant. This guy was serious, deadly serious, and there I was stuck inbetween it all. I mean really, of all languages in the world, expecting someone to prefer speaking in the guttural gymnastics of such an insignificant language called Dutch? Rather than in your own comfortable language with friends of the same nationality? Who was this guy kidding anyway? It goes to show you that racial discrimination takes on all kinds of extreme forms and causes the carrier of this awful disease to lose contact completely with reality because of his own narrow-minded (and severely blackened) ideas. Hopefully some day the world will become a better place.


I live in rural Oregon. We have a large population of Mexican immigrants. For the most part, they're good people, just as any group of people is. However, because they're different, they take a lot of flak, even from people who should know better.

One of the things I hear most often, even from people who are otherwise open-minded, is: "Why don't they learn the language?" The language being English, of course.

I think it's a natural reaction. People are afraid of those who are different, and don't like to feel excluded. When a group is speaking in another language, it's easy to use this as a focus of fear and insecurity which is projected as anger.

Over the past decade, complaints regarding Spanish speakers in this area have dwindled. They'd better have: they're probably a majority in the area I live...

Yes, I know just what you mean. I also grew up on the west coast in California where I remember similar judgments passed for the poor Mexican workers struggling and being abused by the rich and uncaring emperors of produce, disgusting really. Yes, it has alot to do with ignorance and being afraid of the unknown, being paranoid that those damn foreigners will take over some day. Okay, I can kind of understand comments about English (which by the way is almost as universal as Spanish), but what I found very ironic was that here the expected language was Dutch all of a sudden, hard to believe. Pretty funny (sad) when you think about it, isn't it?

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, you are right. People do have a right to speak in their mother tongue with the people they know since it's more comfortable. It's probably not intentional that they're "excluding" anyone else. However there are instances (in which I only speak for my own ethnic group) in which certain individuals delibrately switch to their native language to convey more personal comments in a public forum. Even though I understand them, I'm uncomfortable because there are other people around who wouldn't have a clue as to what they are saying. To that, all I can say is that if you have to say disparaging things about someone, wait until you're in a more private setting, otherwise, it somehow seems dishonest.

Good point Sya. I have to agree with you, though I would probably rather not understand all of the bad things foreigners are saying about me and opt out to remaining ignorant (and perhaps also feeling slightly out of things). So let them just continue talking in their own language. Sticks and stones may break my bones...

In my craft group,every week, I meet Daniele ,a Belgian lady friend. We sit together and speak French,because it seems silly to speak English to each other .We have a great time,because D.is very funny, mostly because she uses French expressions I have forgotten along the years. We do not want to be rude, and often excuse ourselves,or translate our conversation ,but the other ladies say that they love to hear French,which is so "melodic". Some of them even try few words,like merci and au revoir.I am lucky that American people are so kind and have always made me feel welcome ,telling me they love my accent. After 50 years in California,not one person has ever been hostile or treated me as a foreigner.

Even people speaking French in the wrong place can cause problems, although one may claim that it is such a melodic language. For example, take Belgium. The country is split right down the middle between the Flemish and the French speaking regions, in the North and in the South respectively. Each side refuses to speak the other language although they can understand it perfectly well. Speak French in Antwerp and you will certainly get many dirty looks from all the other Flemish-speaking folks.

I shouldn't be surprised that this is going on in countries other than the BIG America. But human nature is what it is.

Living so close to the border, I work with Spanish speaking people. 40 hours a week, I hear their rapid chatter. Is it because their language emphasises vowels, rather than consonants, that they can speak so fast. I marvel at their chatter. I can't even THINK that fast! I'm learning to understand more of their language.

But is it stubborness that inhibits me from trying to speak more of it myself, or bashfulness and fear of saying something stupid like ''Your mother is a donkey?''


Probably the biggest obstacle for folks learning a foriegn language is the unfound fear of making stupid mistakes. But that's just stupid!

I'm working every day to learn Dutch, and I live in Nashville where nobody speaks it. Don't ask me why, I don't know. Oh wait... Mijn broer kunt fier of vijf talen spreken maar geen nederlands... I would love to go to the gym and speak Dutch. Life is absurd. Especially the territorial imperative.

I can highly recommend coming to Holland and living here for twenty-two years to improve your Dutch. Take it from the horse's mouth. Still I cannot speak it fluently and I retain a hefty American accent, but I get along exceptionally well and people accept me for who I am (most of the time that is).

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This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

So far this blog contains no less than 2498 entries and as many as 1877 comments.

Important events

Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

Kiffin Rockwell was shot down and killed 9-23-1916 ago.

Believe it or not but I am 10-11-1957 young.

First met Thea in Balestrand, Norway 6-14-1980 ago.

Began well-balanced and healthy life style 1-8-2013 ago.

My father passed away 10-20-2000 ago.

My mother passed away 3-27-2018 ago.

Started Gishtech 04-25-2016 ago.