Friday, February 5, 2010

How the World Has Changed

For most of the summer of 1988, I was in the Netherlands, living with a Dutch family. It was some kind of exchange program - I can't even remember the organization that arranged the trip. It was the summer between my junior and senior years of high school.

Fast forward 22 years, my sister announced that she has a job interview in the Netherlands later this month and asked, via Facebook, if anyone had any Dutch language CDs she could borrow. I didn't but I did have my trusty Berlitz Dutch for Travellers still packed in a box in the basement. So, I dug it out to send.

Published in 1980, it was kind of old by the time I bought it in '88. But, I figured, it's not like the language has changed. So, big deal.

And then I leafed through the book.

Page 22 revealed the first major change. Marked "Arrival", it starts with the helpful phrase "Here is my passport" (or "Hier is mijn paspoort"). Things get a little dicey further down the page though.

In the subsection about customs, it says "As at almost all major airports in Europe, an honour system for clearing customs has been adoped at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport. Baggage is often not even opened, although spots checks are a possibility." I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that procedure has probably changed. Just a bit.

Conveniently, the book (not a dictionary, mind you - just helpful words and phrases for tourists) also contains the words for milliner, typewriter ribbon, carbon paper, cassette tape, record player stylus, film negatives and flash bulbs.

The section about money is all about the gulden or guilder - no Euros here...

There is also a section about the post office, mailing letters, sending telegrams and asking the whereabouts of a phone booth. There is no section about the internet, wifi or international mobile phone usage.

So, for what it's worth, I'll be popping the book in the mail to Cara tomorrow. Here's hoping she doesn't have to break out the phrase "Ik wil het graag laten wassen en watergolven."

'Cause that'll mean she went retro for her interview and asked for a shampoo and set at the beauty parlor...

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