Greetings Vegetables!

If you ever try to learn a foreign language, it is imperative that the first phrase you learn to say is ‘this is a very difficult language’.

Or something to that effect. You might think you should learn ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ first, but those are words people, not phrases.

(Okay, if you say ‘thank you’ it can be a phrase in some languages. But in many it’s just a word. Gracias. Danke. Merci. You get my point.)

Why this phrase, you ask? Because it will get you out of delicate situations. Save your butt (or derriere in French, s’il vous plait). Buy you time.

Face it. When you learn a foreign language, you are going to make mistakes. Many mistakes. If you don’t, you really aren’t trying. And you certainly aren’t learning.

It is part of the process. You must be willing to speak the words and phrases, even if you pronounce them incorrectly, use the wrong word, or don’t put them in the right order.

You just have to swallow your pride and jump in.

When I had been living here in Den Haag for approximately two and a half months, I began an intensive course in Nederlands. I’m talking three days a week, four hours each time, for four weeks. With at least three hours of preparation before each class.

And in a class consisting of one (wonderfully patient and kind) teacher and only three other students, believe me, EVERYONE knew if you didn’t do the homework.

One day our teacher, Helena, sent us an e-mail in Dutch. I worked very hard to translate it, and wanted to respond in kind. I slaved over my response, and when I hit ‘send,’ there wasn’t a prouder student on the planet.

Until I received her reply. Oh, it was very supportive, lauding my efforts to write in Nederlands. Complimenting me on my bravery and hard work. Encouraging me to continue with my dedication to learn the language.

Just one minor detail. It seems that when I had meant to write the Dutch word for greetings (groetjes) in the salutation, I had written groentjes.



Het is een heel moeilijke taal. (Remember that phrase.)

Bottom line? Take a tip from a wise linguistic sage (or from me if you have to). Repeat after me in the language of your choice: This is a very difficult language…

Image credit: Kittikun Atsawintarangkul portfolio 1671 freedigitalphotos.net


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