Nieuw woord: potloodventer (Or: B2 Dutch course #8)

Eerst, het verhaal in Nederlands:

Op donderdag had ik mijn les bij Mondriaan. We hadden een oefening met het liedje ‘Centraal Station’ bij Guus Meeuwis en Vagant. Eén van de regels was “een potloodventer in een donkere hoek”. De lerares heeft gevraagd: “Weet iemand wat potloodventer betekent?” Een student weet het al! Zij heeft het laten zien met haar handen (zij kon het niet met woorden uitleggen), maar iedereen was nog steeds een beetje in de war. Toen legde de lerares het uit – het is een exhibitionist – en de lerares heeft haar gevraagd: hoe weet je dat woord? De student heeft gezegd “van mijn schoonmoeder”. Een student vroeg, verbaasd, “Jouw schoonmoeder was een potloodventer?” “Nee!” Iedereen moest echt hard lachen. We hebben een beetje meer over het woord gepraat, misschien drie of vier minuten. Nadat heeft de lerares gezegd “Oké, dat is genoeg van dat thema.” Maar helaas heeft zij de volgende regels van het liedje gezegd – “Maar ik zie je nog voor me, als ik mijn ogen sluit” – toen moest iedereen weer om lachen.

And now in English:

On Thursday I had my lesson by Mondriaan. We had an exercise where we must listen to a song, “Centraal Station” by Guus Meeuwis and Vagant. One of the lines was “an exhibitionist in a dark corner”. The teacher asked if anyone knew what the word meant. One student actually knew it! She demonstrated with her hands (she couldn’t explain it in words), but everyone was still a bit confused. The teacher explained what it meant – exhibitionist / someone who exposes themselves – and after asked her how she knew the word. The student said “from my mother-in-law”. A student asked, surprised: “Your mother-in-law was an exhibitionist?” “No!” Everyone just had to laugh. We talked about the meaning of the word for a few more minutes, and afterwards the teacher said “Okay, enough from that theme.” Unfortunately she then said the next few lines from the song out loud, to go over them. They were “but I still see you before me, as I close my eyes”. Everyone laughed again… Good times.

That was the highlight of the lesson – otherwise we just reviewed grammar (the imperfect/simple past – zij danste – she danced) and did an exercise or two with that. I won’t cover that here (I have before) but here are three rules for when you can use the imperfect:

1. To describe special events in the past when the attention of the listener is already in the past. Het was afgelopen week erg druk in de stad. It was very busy last week in the city.

2. Routines / commonly done things in the past. Vroeger fietsten we altijd naar school. Back then we always biked together to school.

3. Actions that took place at the same time in the past. Erst namen we de trein naar Berlijn en daar namen we een taxi naar ons hotel. First we took a train to Berlin and there we took a taxi to our hotel.

If you’re talking about more recent events, as in something that happened in the last few days, it’s usually better to use the past perfect. (Ik heb gedanst – I have danced), at least, that’s what my textbook says. I’m guilty of breaking that rule… I am a bit shaky on when to use the simple past and past perfect.

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