NEIGHBORS

Many of my friends have been curious about Dutch names. Some of the names are pretty unusual to the ears of Americans and some sound pretty “normal”. But what one person thinks is normal another person thinks is very strange. Here, there are plenty of traditional Dutch names but there are a lot of British and American names too.

It was just in the news about the most popular baby names in The Netherlands in 2013. One hundred and sixty eight thousand babies were born here last year.

The most popular girls names are: Tess, Sophie and Julia. The top three for boys is: Sem, Levi and Bram.

Here are some unusual names and this would be the case in any country, there are always people wanting to be different and creative. For boys: Ridley-Scott, Alpacino, Lexus, Provider and Blessing. For girls there is Tiger-Lily, Queen-Chanelly and Pepper-Seven. Don’t even ask, I have no explanation for these.

There are so many Dutch names that I cannot even pronounce, but mainly my Dutch friends have pretty easy names for me to say: Annelies, Bianca, Monique, Sandra and Marjon. These are some popular baby names that are more traditional for this country: Anouk, Marieke, Fleur, Merel, Bart, Jeroen, Teun, Daan and Henk.

So there you go, what is hip and hot in Dutch culture today. I still think my favorite first name is Rembrandt.

On another subject, today I had my second Dutch mammogram. I wrote about my experiences two years ago, and not much has really changed. The machine is the same, the posing and pushing and pulling is the same and the technicians seem to be the same. But this time I know a little more Dutch.

I explained to the technician, in Dutch, that I was an American and that I spoke very little Dutch. She nodded and then I stepped up to the machine and she talked to me in Dutch, but very slowly. And I did understand her. As she was explaining things to me, I briefly answered in Dutch and each time I did, she praised me. Then I was in this weird hokey pokey position and I really believed that my breast was going to snap off, and she is talking about the language and I said “moeilijk! Moeilijk!” and she said “yes, it is moeilijk! You speak very well.”  Moeilijk means difficult…I am not sure if I was talking about the language or the exam at that point. My theory is that under extreme pressure, Dutch words come out of me and they can be interpreted anyway you want.

One more thing about this day: the waiting room had about 25 chairs and they were almost full. There was circle of men visiting with each other like old friends (this place only does mammograms) and there were all these women talking with each other. Each time another woman came in they greeted each other with big smiles and seemed surprised. I found out that the letters about your mammogram (they are called invitations here) are mailed by your post code. When I got mine I had to change the date, so these people were not in my postcode. But all the others in the waiting room all lived in the same neighborhood, so it was like a block party without any food or drink. It was very interesting to see these neighbors either waiting for a mammogram or husbands waiting for their wives.

All I can say is that it is never dull here…..

Recommended viewing: The second season of The Blechtley Circle is airing in the UK right now. I really loved this series and was happy to see that it had returned. The second series will air in USA in April on PBS.

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Comments

  • LadyGregory  On January 22, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    I truly enjoyed this post, especially the hilarious mammogram description. And thanks for the tip about more Bletchley in April–it’s not being advertised here yet, though PBS is currently replaying the first season.

  • Leslie  On January 23, 2014 at 2:32 am

    I love the mammogram story–I need more info to give to my faculty at work–are the “invitations” sent out annually? –how does this work? Just love the story. Les

  • Shers Gallagher  On January 23, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Dear Jane,
    As always I enjoy your posts and fresh perspectives on what has now become somewhat commonplace to me, having lived in the Netherlands these past 14 years. I especially enjoyed this recent take of yours on the Dutch mammogram, which I thought nothing special about till reading your delightful words here. In my province of Zeeland we do things a tad bit differently than you all do in the bigger ‘Randstad’ of South Holland. Our mammogram experience in my small city, for example, takes place in a trailer parked a month long besides one of our local supermarkets. There are never any men present and usually no more than one or two other women, if any, waiting besides me for the what I call the ‘breast tosti’ experience, as we’re most definitely pancaked into strange arrangements throughout the exam. As for your ‘moelijk’ experience, I had to laugh when you added the extra ‘i’, almost making it sound like ‘mooi’, which is another experience, indeed!

    On another note, my stepdaughter is pregnant again, having another little daughter in mid-July. Her first, my 3.7 year old granddaughter, is named Mia. I keep hinting my favourite names to mama Annemiek, but she’s not going for any of my suggestions. I think she feels that they’re either too English sounding or are ‘old hat’, from my generation, not hers. I have no idea what name she and her man are coming up with, as she’s not telling till the bitter end -LOL. But I do think the name ‘Joia’ is rather nice, don’t you? 🙂

  • krunn7  On January 23, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Block Party….what a hoot. But also thanks for the reminder as I think it has been 4 years since I went.

  • Charlotte  On February 8, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    You are a delight, Jane. I can hear your laughter in your words and you make me smile. I’m so glad you are on FB, too.

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