Thursday, October 29, 2009

Difficult. Not Complicated.

I often wonder if there's any correlation between a country's language and the way its people think. The Dutch language is very difficult, in that the list of rules of spelling and/or grammar is full of exceptions to those rules--although the exceptions do make sense once you get the gist of them. But it isn't complicated: subject/object placement is, for the most part, pretty constant, and if you have an extensive enough background in Latin or Romance languages (I took Spanish for 5 years) you can usually figure out the vocabulary pretty quickly. Of course, watching Mythbusters with subtitles greatly helps. As does Pan's Labyrinth, although watching that movie made my head spin the first time--the movie is Spanish, the subtitles are Dutch.

This post comes about because over the past few weeks the trash Nazis have become incredibly strict about tagging bags that are put out even a few hours too early. Trash is collected once a week. It must be places in these special trash bags (green, with DAR printed on it), in designated spots, no earlier than 5 pm the day before your postcode's (=zip code) pickup date. Otherwise the TN's will label your bag with a huge yellow sticker, and then you will get a fine, because they will go through your trash until they find your address on it. Difficult? Yes. Complicated? Not really--the rule is the rule. Follow it, and you'll be all right.

That's life in the Netherlands, in general. The absurdly strict adherence to asinine rules makes for what's commonly perceived as a wholesome, peaceful, and prosperous life. To be completely fair, the trash rule does make sense when it's the heat of summer--riding past a midden of trash bags when the sun has yet to go down for another 4 hours reminds you to be thankful that such a rule exists. At the same time, though, you must wonder: is this what my taxes are paying for?

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