language

BG 235 – Between

We Dutch sometimes use the word ‘between’ in strange ways.

For example, we say, ‘Ouch, I got my fingers between the door!’
‘Between the door’ and then what…? I assume between the door and the door frame, but we don’t say that.
And when we get our fingers ‘between the drawer’ (also painful!), we obviously mean between the drawer and the cabinet where it slides in.
Our fumbling with the word ‘between’ here seems to be in line with our fumbling with the aforementioned doors and drawers.

Another example: recently, a news item listed how often something had happened ‘between 2021 and 2022’. Uh, between 2021 and 2022…? There’s absolutely nothing in between! As usual, those years fit together seamlessly.
Just like you can’t do something ‘between Tuesday and Wednesday’. There is nothing in between there either. You probably mean that you’re going to do that either on Tuesday or on Wednesday, or maybe even in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.

And then we have the curious ‘between the afternoon’. Although that sounds very strange, it is correct Dutch. But between the afternoon and then what…? We mean around lunchtime, so between morning and afternoon, around 12:00-13:00, but we say ‘between the afternoon’. Weird right?

More logical ways to use the word ‘between’ are: at a moment after the first mentioned time – but before the next; or in a place with something or someone on one side and something or someone else on the other side; or in a place in the middle of or surrounded by, for example, people or trees; or in comparative expressions such as ‘the difference between a table and a chair’, or ‘sitting between two fires’ (having to choose between two unpleasant possibilities). Yes, that explanation stands ‘between brackets’.

BG 126 – Love for language

Many people don’t like to read anymore.
Books, long texts, never mind!
Give us passive entertainment
and short summaries.
TLDNR (too long, did not read).

We prefer to be on social media,
we prefer gaming, we watch movies,
we stream series.
There’s nothing wrong with that. But…
we don’t (like to) read anymore.
As a result, we lose language skills
and our pleasure in reading.

We are falling behind …

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BG 94 – We are all writers

As a matter of fact, we are all writers. We all use language to tell others about things we have experienced in the most interesting way possible. Even if what we experienced – especially if what we experienced – didn’t seem that interesting in itself. We turn it into an interesting story with our self-chosen words and sentences, to impress our listeners.
A word artist is hiding in each of us.

BG 32 – Dutch Directness

‘Hi, how are you? Where are you from?’
‘Do you have a boyfriend? No? A girlfriend?’
‘How old are you?’
‘Where do you live? Oh yes, that’s nice. I’d love to live there too.’
‘So, how much rent do you pay?’
‘Are you here on holiday? How long will you stay?’
‘Why are you friends with him?’
‘You’re late.’
‘You look great! Better than when I met you last week.’
‘Have you put on weight?’ …

Read More »BG 32 – Dutch Directness