Last night was the third Dutch lesson. I still have a pretty big fear of opening my mouth and actually talking Dutch (unless you’re a friend/family member) so it makes it interesting. As usual, I did my routine of finishing the homework before actually attending the class – it helps me pay attention a bit better.
Of course, it’s still possible to:
1. Not be paying attention when called on. Twice the teacher asked me a question or to do something, and both times I was distracted by an upcoming grammar section. (What can I say? I love grammar and rules.) But, how embarrassing!
It’s interesting – you never realize how much you can multitask and still listen to your native language, because things are stored in your short term memory. I was walking on the street. Since I am not yet fluent in Dutch, I still subconsciously tune out language and ignore conversations around me. But I passed two women who ended up speaking in English. It was only after a few seconds and their sentence was half done that my brain realized it was English. So it automatically went back and replayed what it heard so I could know what they were saying.
But that isn’t possible yet in Dutch – the language doesn’t make enough sense to stick in my short term memory, and thus if I am not concentrating on listening I can’t go back and re-hear what was said.
2. It’s also possible to make a mistake on the one sentence you are called on to answer, even if you have the other 9 sentences correct. (The present perfect participle for komen [to come] is gekomen, not gekwam.) I mixed it up the with the straight past tense conjugation, which for the ‘I’ form is gekwam. Opps.
I was the first one who arrived in the class, about 15 minutes before it began. I was so early I had to open the classroom door and turn the lights on. I probably would have done the usual thing about worrying that I was in the wrong classroom or that class was moved/canceled if someone from the administration office hadn’t left the attendance sheet there in advance. I think the next person came in at 6:51 or so. When the class was supposed to start at 7PM, we had about 8 of 20 students. We ended up with 12 of 20 students total for the day.
The smaller class size did make it a bit easier to arrange the seats, as the professor had said she wanted to do starting with week 3. They were arranged into a square shape with everyone facing each other. I am afraid I wasn’t terribly clear in my first few posts for why I wanted this change, however. In the first class I sat in the second row. This would have been fine except the professor prefers staying seated throughout the class, so it was hard to see her. This usually also included when she wanted to write something on the dry erase board – she would simply push her chair over to the board and write on the bottom of it. She is however a fine teacher. I can understand most of what she says and she is nice to us.
As we had a new student this week (and the teacher wanted to test our speaking skills) she asked each of us what we did over the mini break last week. I told the story of going to the Gemeente Museum, and tried to explain how the price was free due to a promotion with The Hague’s public library – when I joined the library I received a key ring that grants you and your friends free admission to the library through the end of this month. It is of course hard to explain in Dutch. ;p
There were a few things mentioned during the class that caused me to grin to myself because I already knew them and/or Marco taught me them.
1. Rennen (to run) is not for sport or competition. The professor gave the example of “Jij ren voor de bus” – You run for the bus. But if you run for exercise or sport, you use “Hardlopen” which translates to “hard walking”. I saw this one on a forum a month ago, and Marco brought up the distinction on Monday night for some reason.
2. “Ik zit lekker in mijn vel.” Marco taught me this one a month or two ago. It’s like paraplu (umbrella) – Saying it just amuses me for whatever reason. It literally means “I sit well in my skin.” (I feel good/healthy.)
My favorite thing of the class this time was actually the uitspraak section – pronunciation. I do love grammar rules, you know. Especially when it explains something I had no idea needed explaining. In Dutch you have the “swja” pronunciation symbol, also known as “schwa” and shown as an upside down e in English speaking countries.
It is sort of an ‘u’ sound that sounds more like a grunt. Somewhat close to the English ‘uh’, but short and sweet. It can appear in words with an -e (sporten), -ij (natuurlijk), -i (geweldig) and more.
The coolest thing I learned is as follows:
NB: De -n na de swja in verba wordt vaak niet uitgesproken.
NB: The -n after the schwa in verbs is often not pronounced. (Otherwise known as: Haagse dialect! Apparently people from The Hague drop their trailing n’s like they are the plague.)
It also affects e’s in words like je, de, te, etc. And syllables like ge- … Also it affects any Dutch word that ends in an e.
So sport-en is closer to sport-uh, natuurlijk is na-tuur-luhk, and geweldig is guh-wel-duhg
It’s official, I think you can see. I love grammar.