Google (Or: The best and worst of learning languages)

Last night when I was working on the blog post, I knew that the proper phrase for the first image was Waar is Nederland? It’s a very simple phrase and Nederland is the Dutch name for the Netherlands. So I took a screenshot, re-sized it in Photoshop, and then added on the appropriate text.

And then I second guessed myself. It is the internet, after all. Put your best foot forward, since it’s there forever. Or however long blogs will be around. So I went to Google and did a phrase search for “Waar is Nederland?” within the quote marks to force Google to search for it as an exact phrase (very useful tool, says this librarian!). It returned about 30,000 results, and that seemed low to me. Of course, that’s probably because people who speak Dutch know where the Netherlands is, but I digress…

And then I decided to try “Waar is het Nederlands”. Don’t ask me why, since I was right on the first attempt all on my own. But it’s that fear of being wrong, that fear of someone who speaks native Dutch realizing… you’ll start to go to any attempt to hide your wrongness. That gave me about 475,000 results — a lot more than my first search.

Of course, at this point I should have realized it was because I wasn’t searching for the basic question any more. It was more like Where is the Dutch <noun>? rather than the country itself! But still, I re-did the picture, against any misgivings, and posted it. It’s not the first time Google has struck out.

That’s not to say, of course, that Google doesn’t have a lot of advantages. You have Google translate. You can download a Firefox plugin to translate any highlighted phrase by right clicking. And there is some other things that may or may not be from Google, like the automatic translate option when someone posts a Dutch comment on Facebook which I see. I even heard that someone has been reading my blog in translated Dutch (which of course means that it was pretty gibberish at times!)

I suppose the morale of the story is to trust my gut and not believe Google all the time. But also to take more risks – I have to figure this out somehow, and December is fast approaching. It’s not that I think I ‘ll be fluent by that (ha!) but rather than I would like to at least get the basics down and hold a conversation or two early on.

But anyway, let’s hear it for the Dutch language. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to roll my R’s… that would shock my Spanish teacher, that’s for sure!

Categories: Learning Dutch | Tags: | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Google (Or: The best and worst of learning languages)

  1. I lived in Amsterdam, on Gerrit van der Veenstraat justoff Beethoven straat, The ladies at the dry cleaners would reward my correct pronunciation of articles of clothing with a licorice. You are doing some excellent research. The photographs are so interesting.

  2. Mmm, that reminds me black licorice. I loved separate all the jelly beans and eat the black ones first. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the compliment! I just need to learn to let myself show mistakes occasionally!

  3. Hey, you’re not doing a bad job! try Marco translating Dutch phrase into (literal) English, it’s funny…they make fun of their own ‘similar sounding’ dutch words and how they have double meanings due to the way it sounded. Have fun!

    • Congrats on the upcoming move! Den Haag has some raelly lovely areas, and if you get cravings for American baked goods, my friends there have a company called American Baking Company. They’re cupcakes and everything else are to die for! Good luck with the move!

      • Thanks. I am planning on checking it out next year. Do you have a physical address yet (are you planning on having one?). Last I checked you didn’t quite have a website, so that is great to see one. The rice krispie treats on the homepage look drool worthy…

        Otherwise, where are some places that you will be in the future (fairs etc)? I’ll let Marco know and see if he is interested in checking you guys out.

  4. Roger

    I am sorry if my nitpicking brought this on.. I am proud of you for doing so well with Dutch specially with you not being confronted with it on a daily basis.

    I am sure a lot of expats don’t even start learning dutch until they arrive here, specially if they are just over here for work.

    So my sincere apologies for pointing out the ‘mistake’..

    You rawk! Don’t let my correction discourage you from being awesome (like that’s possible, you are always awesome)..


    • Don’t worry about it, because Marco also mentioned it. It just made for a good blog post so I decided to write about it πŸ˜‰ And I need to embrace my mistakes!

  5. I wonder what it will be like for you when you’ve actually moved here. A lot of Dutchies will automaticly switch to English when they notice the Dutch of the person they’re talking to isn’t like that of a native speaker. Which kind of sucks when you’re trying to get better at Dutch. πŸ™‚
    So make us speak Dutch to you!

    • I will give them my best womanly glare. That should make them realize what I want. πŸ˜‰

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