||"Did you know Amsterdam's got eighty-eight kennels? And they're all
supposed to be beautiful!"|
||"Really? No, if i'd known i'd 've taken a much easier barking course
instead of that difficult Dutch conversation course."|
||"They've even got a world-famous Kennel Parade. It's on the first
Saturday in August, every year."|
I saw that Parade with my niece, who's a dog lover, last year.
We expected some kind of a kennel club parade with dogs on boats.
But i must say that the dogs on the boats bore a striking resemblance to
ordinary human beings.
Well, except for the extravagant ones.
My niece liked the parade but not the resemblance."|
||"That thing about the parade i found kind of odd myself too.
But a very amiable police officer told me so off-duty in a brown café.
'E also challenged me to say 'eighty-eight beautiful kennels' in Dutch.
It sounded something like:
'Ahktentahktic prahktica crahkten' 1 ."|
||"Quentin, that's a tongue-twister for foreigners and it means
Eighty-eight beautiful ca-NALS, not KEnnels!
Sometimes the Dutch turn stresses around like they turn figures around.
They say 'one and twenty' instead of 'twenty-one' and they call me
'an-DRE-a' instead of 'AN-dre-a'.
||"In former times English-speakers also used to say 'one and
||"Yes, but we're now living in the twenty-first century, not in the
And it's so illogical.
The Dutch themselves easily make mistakes in calculations that way,
especially when they work abroad or in an international firm and
have to do them in English."|
||"How old is that niece with whom you went to see the 'Kennel' or
||"She'll turn seventeen next week."|
||"Is she Dutch?"|
||"No, are you kidding?
What makes you think so?"|
||"Because if she speaks our language, you'd expect her to turn
You know it's so illogical to turn numbers around!"|
||"Oh, i fear, nobody's entirely perfect at this moment.
I guess it'll be another one or two hundred years before she turns
teen-seven or, perhaps, ten-seven.
And, i hope the Dutch will have learned to call me 'AN-dre-a' by
||"But an-DRE-a exists too, doesn't it?"|
||"Alright, but not CAnals, spelled with CA, and then pronounced
with the same vowel as in dense.
Dutch people don't seem to be able to distinguish between the vowel in a
word like dense and in dance, when pronounced the American
The two words sound exactly the same for them.
They've got no ash."|
||"No ash? You're kiddin'! You go to a bar here and there's ash
all over the place; in restaurants even on the table next to your
plate 2 ."|
||"Yes, Quentin, cigaret ash -- way too much of it.
But i'm talking about the English vowel in words like cat. For the
Dutch it doesn't make a difference whether you sand a wooden statue
that has been scratched or whether you send it, scratches and all."|
||"Still, i've good reason to believe that police officer did mean
'KEnnels' with KE.
The K was even in the name of the division for which 'e worked:
the K-9 squad. I thought that stood for Kennel 9 or the ninth
kennel or, perhaps, kennels. Don't tell me now that the K
stands for the Dutch word kanaal 3 . Why on
earth would the people living on the ninth canal have their own police
section looking after them?"|
||"I don't know. Perhaps, because all eighty-eight kennels are in their
neighborhood and there's a considerable number of people complaining
about dogs barking and biting them.
Or, because in Amsterdam's Kenneltown on the ninth canal there's a much
greater number of people stepping in dogshit which they find much less
often pleasant to look at."|
||"Andrea, you're no help. You just told me there are not
eighty-eight kennels but eighty-eight canals in Amsterdam. More canals
than i've got friends, let alone friends who're patient enough to listen
to me and explain things to me. ... I had a very nice conversation with
that officer, but suddenly 'e walked away without even saying goodbye.
Would you have any idea why?"|
||"No, it surprises me, since you found 'im very amiable in the beginning.
Police officers are usually polite and supposed to be very disciplined,
especially when working for a division like the K-9 squad.
What did you say to 'im before 'e walked away?"|
||"Nothing special. 'E'd drunk a little bit too much and called me 'My
foreign friend'. And i'd drunk a little bit too much as well, and i found
that foreign kind of impersonal, even a bit patronizing. So i
called 'im 'My K-9 friend'."|
||"K-9 friend? No wonder, 'e left you without saying anything."|
||"You, dog! Would you like to be called my canine
||"Yes, like you might call your cat a feline friend."|
||"Oh, crisis, that's it! I made an enemy in the Police Dog Section. ...
I do hope 'e meant canals, because i won't even be able to stand
the sight of one beautiful kennel anymore."|