Monday, 16 April 2012

English accent

Somehow at some point in time I must have passed through a secret magic door. Or maybe I ate something magic. Maybe my aura has changed since I’m pregnant. But something definitely happened and now all new people I meet assume I don’t speak Dutch.

My phone rings.
“Met Alexandra Mirskikh.”
“Goedemiddag, U spreekt met M. van de Jansen Makelaars.”
“Oh, I am sorry, I will speak English!”
“Oh, u spreekt wel Nederlands?”
“Oh, Ik hoor ZO’N Engels accent! Vandaar.”
Moi? English accent?

People address me in English even if they met me before and had a whole conversation with me in Dutch. Apparently I don’t sound convincing. The biggest problem is not even that people speak English to me. The problem is that they are all Dutch and their English is, well... Dunglish. I constantly need to translate that back to Dutch to understand what they actually mean.

A couple of weeks ago we were visiting a house we’d like to rent. We had a very nice chat with the two young property agents, twenty minutes all in Dutch. After we expressed our interest, they told us we had to sign a document confirming our intention to rent. They’d send us the form that we could fill in and return. Fine. Two hours later I find the document in my e-mail. In English, of course.

“Hereinafter to be referred to as ‘lessee’, that he/she is in expectation of the written agreement based on the model ROZ incl. terms and conditions, by signing this acceptance form has accepted to, per 01/05/2012 renting the following residence...” Help! I need extra English classes. I let Google Translate turn it to Dutch and it made perfect sense. BTW, the one who was to be referred to as 'lessee' was called 'tenant' all through the rest of the document.

The form went on describing the conditions of the rent. I was almost ready to sign when I saw this: “Extra terms: crane in toilet will be installed.” Oh no! Please! I don’t want a crane in my toilet! A faucet will do just fine.

I had an appointment this morning and even before I could greet the person I was meeting she asked: “Do you speak Dutch?” Oh please, despite that detached expression on my face I am not that foreign. I’m just pregnant.

I was losing all trust in my Dutchiness when I walked into the local pharmacy this afternoon. It was very busy. There was one Turkish man, one Moroccan, a Turkish woman with a fat child, an Indian lady, a Polish guy, two Surinamese girls and some Asian boy (could not place him). I killed the waiting time by trying to guess where the woman behind the counter got her weird accent. There, in that pharmacy everyone assumes that everybody can speak Dutch. And it all works out just fine. Very reassuring.

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