Also, I don’t think that a blog about Dutch issues in English is necessarily something few people care about. I bet there are a fair amount of people in the Netherlands who don’t speak Dutch well enough to read Dutch blogs — by the way, unrelated to the rest of this sentence, when I tried to look for statistics of how many people residing in the Netherlands don’t speak Dutch I found ample evidence of the glamorisation of Dutch you mentioned: apparently “Dutch is the only language people should be allowed to speak on the street” is an opinion not few people hold (for fuck’s sake, people)


In 2002, Queen’s Day, I got on a tram in Rotterdam. There was this obviously drunk Dutch person taking all 4 seats in the tram. I was exhausted. I looked at the person and asked (in Dutch) if I could sit down. He allowed me to with a grunt. Then I proceeded to have a conversation with my partner in English. Drunk person heard and started to shout abuse. I ignored. He continued. Eventually I stood up because his abuse was getting increasingly louder. He stood up as well and without further ado, punched me in the face while screaming “KUT ALLOCHTOON!” and informing me I must speak Dutch at all times. He was too drunk to inflict much physical damage, but the violence did leave an emotional scar nonetheless.

A few months later, I am walking down the market (also in Rotterdam) with a friend. We are speaking Spanish. Random Dutch guy walking in front of us stops on his tracks, elbows me on the stomach and screams “YOU MUST SPEAK DUTCH”.

I moved to Amsterdam. I don’t look like “them”. I don’t speak like “them”. They did manage to instill a fear in me that my language skills will never be good enough. And that’s also why I became determined to shout in the language I am comfortable with. Because over here, I only play by my rules.

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