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On clearing the throat, and Dutch speech in general.

Reader comment on item: Michael Oren Interviewed by Daniel Pipes
in response to reader comment: To clarify

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Jul 16, 2015 at 10:04

Thank you for writing, Anna

I often have trouble getting across to English-speaking Americans; and you, a Dutch Woman, even understand my humor! I'm floored, in a very good way!

Speaking of the Dutch, It's commendable that nearly all of you have taken the trouble to learn English. Having grown up with that language, and having studied German for several years in university, I can make out Dutch well enough to stumble along throug old wills in my family tree. Even so, it's one thing to read Dutch, and an entirely different experience to try to speak it. One American I met, who had spent many years in the Netherlands, commented,

"Dutch isn't a language. It's a throat condition".

My wife once visited the Netherlands, but cannot remember anything about the place, except that there was fog everywhere. When my Dutch ancestors came to America, they learned from the Indians a way to continually maintain that foggy environment, namely, the calumet. Washington Irving, who invented the character "Rip Van Winkle" that so inspired Michael Oren, often mentioned the old Dutch habit of smoking, which some have said was to be a homeopathic cure for their throat condition, caused by the ever-present smoky haze that permeated the Motherland. One group of early settlers, Irving wrote, were able to hide themselves from marauding Indians by lighting up their pipes and sitting under the ensuing cloud.

Ah, historic memories! Thank you once again for bothering to write, and for catching both my jokes and my more serious moments.

PS. It has been nearly 400 years since my first Dutch ancestors came to this country; but I have retained the clearing of the throat as a reminder of how my forebears once spoke. One crow, outside the window in front of me, has learned to exactly duplicate the sound :-)


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