© 2018 by Team COLINDA, a subsidiary of White-Boucke Productions. All rights reserved.

The UnDutchables


: an observation of the Nederlands,

its culture and its inhabitants

reviewed by Johannes van Dam for "Het Parool" (Dutch newspaper)

Nothing is more interesting than to see yourself through the eyes of an interested outsider... A very revealing treatise about us has been published, self-categorized by the publisher as "non-fiction/humour" - "The UnDutchables: an observation of The Netherlands, its culture and its inhabitants", by Colin White & Laurie Boucke, two Americans (I think) who together lived with us in the swamp for 22 years. This book in a very exact yet funny way discloses all the secrets about us that we really would have preferred to keep to ourselves. In other words, they hang out the dirty linen. We are adorned with the pet name "cloggies," after clogs, the wooden shoes that we supposedly wear, but the authors have clearly looked much farther than wooden shoes and tulips. From the unnatural Dutch custom of finding it unfitting to answer the telephone with "Hallo" (an idiosyncrasy of mine, as you know) to our behavior in the tram, with garbage trucks, and in bed. Even the way we stir sugar in our coffee has not escaped their notice and not until you read this book from cover to cover do you understand how much our behavior, that we consider as completely normal ourselves, borders on insanity for a non-Netherlander. Everything in it is true, and only the humor with which it is written makes it at all palatable for us. Although I just wrote that nothing is more interesting than to see yourself through the eyes of others, more than a chapter of this book is hard to handle at a time. Like at the psychiatrist's, you have to let the horrible truth penetrate you in separate sessions. And just like at the psychiatrist's, it won't help one bit to make you happier. Less arrogant, perhaps, but not happier. A fine little work, then, that will be around for years.

Why going Dutch can be embarrassing

by Paul Andrews for "The European Magazine"

At an informal get-together, a Dutch woman introduced herself to a British woman. When asked what her profession was, the Dutch woman tried to translate "Ik fok honden" (I breed dogs) - into English. Unfortunately, rather than "breed" she used the English vulgar cognate of the Dutch verb "fokken." Calmly, she informed her shocked companion that her working relationship with her animals was extremely intimate. Dutch and English seem to provide a particularly rich seam for unfortunate homonyms - words spelt similarly but having different meanings. The above story is gleefully reported by authors Colin White and Laurie Boucke in their tongue-in-cheek culture-and-language guide "The UnDutchables." Now in its third edition, the book has become a cult among English-speaking, Netherlands-based expatriates. White and Boucke portray the Dutch language as being highly revealing of national habits. One such characteristic is the overuse diminutives in everybody speech, using the suffix "-je". White and Boucke claim that the Dutch reflect "their small-scale complacency" by drinking a little cup of tea or taking a little walk. This gets complicated when actual smallness is required: a standard glass of beer is "little" (een pilsje), so for a small glass a double diminutive is necessary - "een klein pilsje" (a small, little beer). Dutch idioms, too, are presented as reflecting classic images of the nation in the eyes of foreigners. So, in Dutch, a crazy person has been "hit by a windmill." "Mind your own business" is "keep your clogs off the ice" (blijf met de klompen van 't ijs). The English idiom "paint the town red" goes Dutch as "put the little flowers outside;" and Oliver Hardy's catchphrase "That's another fine mess you've got me into" roughly translates as "Now what have you hung on my bike?"

Zo zijn onze manieren

by Marijke de Jong for “The Dutch Courier”

"The UnDutchables", een kostelijk boek in de Engelse taal geschreven door Colin White en Laurie Boucke, is officieel -zo staat op de kaft - "an observation of the Netherlands: its culture and its inhabitants". Het Amerikaanse schrijverspaar, dat 20 jaar in Nederland woonde, observeerde ons volkje zo goed, dat het lijkt of je, al lezende, jezelf in de spiegel ziet. "The UnDutchables," aanvankelijk geschreven als een aanvullende reisgids voor Engels sprekende bezoekers aan ons lage landje, deed onze landsaard zo geestig uit de doeken, dat het boek niet alleen bij toeristen een laaiend sukses werd, maar door Jan en Alleman gelezen wordt en in een tijdspan van een jaar al aan de derde druk toe is. Als u wat over uzelf te weten zou willen komen, waarvan u stiekem hoopt dat niemand anders dit ontdekt, dan moet u beslist dit boek lezen. "Zo zijn onze manieren, manieren, zo zijn onze manieren", is een oud kinderliedje dat evenals het gezegd " 's Lands wijs, 's Lands eer", aanduidt dat wij Nederlanders 't graag bij onze oude gewoontes houden. Dat deze gewoontes vaak zeer eigenaardig zijn wordt in "The UnDutchables" zo subliem aan de kaak gesteld, dat je - zoals 't mij overkwam - al lezende nu eens zit te schaterlachen en dan weer met schaamrood op de kaken zit. In hoofdstuk 9 bijvoorbeeld, lezen we over 'uitkering': "If you truly want to integrate with Dutch Society, you must have at least one type of 'uitkering' (welfare, national assistance, etc.). Applying for welfare and reaping the benefits is not a social disgrace. It is a right. In 1986, 1/4 of the population of Amsterdam was on welfare." In hoofdstuk 13 kunt u lezen wat in Holland geldt als "elementary, unwritten rules of the road:" "Drive as close to the car in front as possible" and "any brakelight indication, combined with an amber or recently red traffic signal will subject you to a barrage of stereophonic horn-blasts". Dit zijn slechts twee van de vele Dutch-made road rules. In hoofdstuk 14 ('Manners maketh Man') staat: "At home or abroad, a Dutch greeting consists of a brief handshake in the case of new acquintances, or of a kiss on each cheek for longer-term friends (dat zijn volgens mij tegenwoordig 3 zoenen). Whichever form of greeting is used, it is often accompanied by a feeling of dread, as it gives rise to yet another national phobia: the fear of sweaty hands (zweethanden)". In Sign Language staat dit juweeltje: "To become an accepted member of Dutch Society, we recommend you practice the following, preferably in private: 1. Place hands parallel to ear, 3-inches from ear. Oscillate hand in forward/aft direction at medium speed. This means 'delicious,' (lekker)." Het hoofdstuk over een Dutch Home is te gek om los te lopen, speciaal het stuk over het kleinste kamertje, de W.C. "Drink coffee the Dutch way", is een ander bewijs dat White en Boucke ons net zo goed bestudeerd hebben als de vrouwtjes, die hun buren in hun spionnetjes ("spy mirrors" noemen de schrijvers die) bekijken. Achterin vindt u 3 interessante appendixes: A view of the Dutch through the English language, waarin gezegden, zoals "Dutch built, Dutch courage, Dutch oven", enz. verklaard worden. Hollandse woorden, die hetzelfde worden uitgesproken als woorden die in de Engelse taal bestaan, maar heel iets anders betekenen, zoals: bil - bill, dier - dear, peen (wortel) - pain, vlaai - fly, en noem maar op. Op pagina 141 staat: "At an informal get-together, a Dutch woman, asked about her profession, stated "fok dogs" ("fok" lijkt op het Engelse woord dat heel iets anders betekent!). Mijn dochter las "The UnDutchables" in een adem uit en verzekerde mij dat haar het soms vreemde doen en laten van familie in Holland een stuk duidelijker is geworden. Brian Bramson’s Dear Henry

by “Maggie” (online reviewer)

Similar to “The UnDutchables,” this is written in letter form from an uncle to his nephew preparing for his move from the UK to the Netherlands. Imagine all the wisdom you would need to impart to a naive young adult preparing for the (sometimes) wildness of Holland! Very funny, I enjoyed this book very much. I'm not sure it would be a good book to read to prepare yourself for a visit to the Netherlands but, it will make you laugh.

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