Saturday, April 24, 2010

Is Dutch The Coldest Language In The World?

Never mind the unpleasant sounds, vaguely reminiscent of Klingon speech, that penetrate the air when two Dutch speakers are conversing with each other in their little spoken native tongue, there's something else not quite kosher about Dutch.

Just about every language has a simple, direct way for a lover to express love for her or his beloved. It's probably the phrase people are most familiar with in the widest variety of languages. In English we say "I love you". Simple: SUBJECT (I)-VERB (love) -DIRECT OBJECT (you). Most languages follow a similar, even identical pattern, languages as diverse and distant as Icelandic: "Ég elska þig" to Vietnamese: "Anh yêu em".

French: Je t'aime. Chinese: "我愛你". German: "Ich liebe dich". Russian: "Я люблю тебя". Norwegian: "Jeg elsker deg". Thai: "ฉันรักเธอ".

Three little words. 1,2,3: I love you. Everyone that is, except the Dutch. That's right. Dutch is such a Nordic, cold, dark and heartless language that there is simply no direct way to say you love someone, or anyone, or anything for that matter. In Dutch you can choose between one of two indirect, vaguely unsatisfying constructions: 

1) The adverbial construction, "Ik heb je lief", where the verb is "to have" and the adverb is "dearly". The closest English translation would be something like "I hold you dear" with the meaning as in the phrase, "By all you hold sacred, by all you hold dear". [More accurately you could translate this literally as "I have you lief". "Lief" is a rarely heard adverb meaning, "gladly", "willingly", as in "I would as lief eat pizza tonight as I would eat Chinese."] Pretty unsatisfying really, no?

2) The phrasal verb construction, "I hou van je", which transliterates as "I hold of you" and whose denotation of love is, like most phrasal verb constructions, entirely idiomatic and seems like nonsense to the outsider. I don't think I have to comment. Saying you love someone by referring to the action of holding them metaphorically is a very piss poor way of expressing your deep devotion to another really. If you think about it, it's kinda like that episode of The Simpsons where Homer buys Marge a bowling ball for her birthday.

Dutch has no problem when it comes to expressing hate though. If you want to say you hate someone, it works just like in English: "Ik haat je". But, strangely, unlike Dutch's closest language relatives, German "Ich liebe dich" and English "I love you"; you cannot say something simple like "Ik lief jou" in Dutch. To express love in such a simple direct way would be simply beyond the bitter iciness of the Dutch heart.

The Dutch? Icy and cold? (I hear you protest). 
But I thought that was the Germans with their clinical industrial efficiency and their way of making you feel one foot tall with nothing more than a sneered "Ha!". 
Or the Norwegians maybe with their 24 hour winter nights and their awful sounding Satan worshipping death metal bands.
But the Dutch? They're all fun lovin' hippies! Or not?

Well I say to you, the proof is in the language. I say, don't buy all that tolerance and weed-smoking, free love hippy crap that the Dutch are so fond of promoting to the world! It's just a facade to make more money from tourism. Underneath that fun-loving exterior is the cold, calculating, profiteering, Calvinistic Dutch heart, which has made a state religion out of a form of Christianity (Calvinism) which believes that God chose exactly who'd go to heaven and who would burn in hell for eternity before He even made the universe and there's fuck all anyone can do about it; which practically invented the Protestant work ethic,  imputing deep guilt into you if you do not work yourself to death and on the other hand deep shame on you if you dare enjoy or show off the fruits of your labour in any way; which can still be so conservative that in certain small regional Dutch towns driving a car is illegal on Sundays as by doing so one is breaking the command to Keep The Sabbath Day Holy.

Of course, as a Dutch citizen and native Dutch speaker, I write all this with a grain of salt, salt which, if I could, I would cast down in righteous Dutch Reformed Church (Gereformeerd, not Hervormd!) anger onto the ice of the frozen Dutch heart in the vain hope it might melt.
LOL. A language with no means to say "I love you". Honestly, what kind of language is that?

[PS - Calvinism 101 - Calvisnism, for those who have never heard of the word, is one of the early forms of Protestant Christianity. Just like, in revolt of the Roman Catholic Church Germany & Scandinavia got Luther, England got The Church Of England (aka Anglican aka Episcopalian - yea we know where that's going, don't we Bishop Spong!), in like manner Holland got Calvinism. 

Calvin says:

1) Total depravity means everyone is totally bad, bad like Hitler, totally, going to hell, bad. Period.  

2) Unconditional Election means that although everyone is totally depraved, long long ago God decided He didn't want His whole creation just ending up burning in hell, I mean that would just be a total waste of time, so He chose, ie, "elected" some people to be saved. It would later become apparent that these chosen ones were all members of The Dutch Reformed Church. By the way, that's "The Dutch Reformed Church", not "The Reformed Dutch Church", and beware!...the difference is as big as the Grand Canyon is wide! 

3) Limited Atonement means that seeing as God had already elected those who would go to Heaven and those who would burn in hell before the very creation of the Universe, there was no need then for Jesus to die for everyone's sins when he came down to Earth. I mean that would just have meant so much more hard work and suffering for Him. No, He just had to die for the sins of the chosen members of the Reformed Church. Everyone else's sins remain not atoned and they can all rot in hell. Especially Roman Catholics.

4) Irresistible Grace that means if God happens to have elected you then you are going to Heaven, whether you like it or not. You are like a moth to the flame, a fly in the spider's web. It doesn't matter if you happen to actually enjoy and be quite ethically happy with your depraved, debauched, lecherous, drug-fuelled, sinful lifestyle. It doesn't matter if you are Chairman Mao, Jeffrey Dahmer, Adolf Hitler or Humpty Dumpty. If God has chosen you, then repentance and off to Heaven it is with you.

5) Perseverance Of The Saints means that basically since you never really chose to believe, but rather God chose for you; actually since no one really has any free will at all, it follows that anyone who has ever been chosen to be saved, can never lose their salvation. Even if you say "No! That's it! I'm converting to raving, anarchic-counter-imperialist communistic-socialist Satanistic virgin-sacrificing Atheism this minute!" It doesn't matter dude. You're still a Christian. Better yet. It turns out you're a Calvinist. You just don't get to have a say.]

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