Dutch language skills


A little while ago we went to see Dirk Scheele at the theatre. He’s a Dutch children’s rock star. We quite like his songs and listen to them frequently.  One night after the concert rocket boy was trying to go to sleep, and complained that when he tried to translate one of the songs into English it didn’t rhyme anymore. (If anyone’s interested Dirk Scheele has actually recently launched an English YouTune channel.) So on our next visit to the library I got out the gruffalo in Dutch. This is one of our favourite stories (in English!) and even starry girl can recite it as we go along. So it was interesting to see how they had translated it.


Translating children’s picture books must be so difficult, as you have to keep the rhythm and rhyme, with as similar a meaning as you can. With, of course, the same illustrations. It was interesting to see the changes in details between the two gruffalo books. For example it is gruffalo tartare, not gruffalo crumble, that the mouse claims is his favourite food. Steak tartare (or filet americain) is quite common here, much more so than the UK.

I’m also reading the first Harry Potter book in Dutch. I’d forgotten lots of the story as it was a while ago I read it in English. I’m not quite up to reading adult novels yet, but I’m quite enjoying reading a few YA books in Dutch. 

One of the presents I got for Christmas was an “every day a question” book in Dutch. This is a version of a five year diary, but rather than summarizing your day you have a question to answer. Every day of the year has a different question, so by the time you’ve finished it you’ve answered every question five times. The questions range from “what’s in your trouser pocket?”, “what was the first thing you thought this morning?”, to “what was your goal for today?”, “who would you like to meet?” and “if you could send anyone a message what would it be?”. I’m enjoying filling it in, and it’s good practice for my Dutch too. So far I’ve only had one question I couldn’t think of an answer for, and one I’ve had to ask my Dutch teacher to translate for me. It will be interesting to see how my understanding of the questions, and my written answers improve over the next few years! 

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