What the…?

So I visited the official website of the Dutch canon (of history – a gimmick created some years ago to try to box-in the entire history of the Netherlands, yet another way in which the Dutch, through their insuppressible need for efficiency, have managed to get the facts right but miss the point entirely), to try to find an official English title that I could use in a translation I was (am) doing.

What I read there was quite horrific. It’s basically just Dutch, thinly (and we’re talking microns here, or maybe Planck lengths) disguised as English. My reaction was similar to what I experienced here. The English is so Dutch, I’m pretty sure I could produce a word-perfect reconstruction of the original without looking at it once. But just to test exactly how incomprehensible it would be to someone with no knowledge of Dutch, I’d like to get some feedback from English speakers.

So without further ado, here is the page I’m talking about:


Read it. Laugh. Squirm. Then please leave a comment describing your level of incomprehension.


8 Responses to “What the…?”

  1. 1 Lisa
    18 February, 2009 at 9:52 am

    First of all, I had to read the first sentence of this entry 3 times because it brought me so much joy. We need your snark at the stitch n bitch!

    Second, ….wow. Reading that felt *exactly* like reading one of the “communicatie” emails I get periodically at work or, say, my Eneco bill. Like, “I know all these words, so technically I should know understand this sentence, but I have no clue.”

    And their conspicuous use of “as it were” reminds me of how my students used to write.

  2. 18 February, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    As it were… wat betekent dat? Is het zoiets als ‘als het ware’ of ‘soort van’? Is dat een Engelse uitdrukking of is het gewoon een letterlijke vertaling vanuit het Nederlandse? Zoals ‘Now the monkey comes out of the sleeve…’

  3. 3 brentusfirmus
    18 February, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Nee, “as it were” is also an English expression, and means precisely “als het ware”. Only its presence here was pretty conspicuous…

  4. 18 February, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    for this time I will see it through the fingers.

  5. 5 CorrieH
    18 February, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Raar misschien, maar lezend in de canon is het voor mij goed te begrijpen (hihi). Wie is de doelgroep van deze canon eigenlijk? Nederlanders? Denk het wel, eigenlijk. (Nog even nagekeken: inderdaad: bedoeld voor basis- en middelbaar onderwijs: dit moet je weten van nederland als je van school afkomt)

  6. 6 CorrieH
    18 February, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    O ik zie het, nieuw stopwoordje: eigenlijk (2x). Sorry Brent.
    Is het al minder heet down there?

  7. 7 brentusfirmus
    19 February, 2009 at 4:55 am

    Corrie, you’re right about the general texts in the canon itself – I read the one on Srebjenica (or however you spell it) and found it very nice indeed. It was just that one page that I linked to that I found quite abysmal. Also strange that the quality of the two translations is so different – I wonder why?

  8. 8 Anastasia
    25 February, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Too funny! Did they decide to cut costs and just use Google translate?

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