In recent months, I have been practising my Dutch with a friend at the university. In fact, I give her English coaching, but part of that is the writing of a blog in English. She calls her blog 'What's up?', which I quite like as it's just a kind of daily diary - hence the name of this post. The point is that I decided to 'help' her along by writing my own blog in Dutch.
It's surprisingly (or maybe not) difficult. I mean I am so used to rambling on in my own language, aren't I? After all, writing is generally quite an easy process for me. It's like pressing a button and out it comes. I barely even have to think about what's going to come out next (it even surprises me sometimes), but in Dutch? No. It absolutely does not work that way.
In truth, it's a bit like being suddenly deprived of a physical capacity. You know. Like not being able to use a finger when you've injured it. Everything you do is suddenly ten times more difficult. Well for me, writing in Dutch is like having that injured finger. It's slower, in fact painfully slow. I don't have all my usual skills of expression at my disposal. I have to work my way round things until I manage to come out with something resembling what I wanted to say - just like you have do work arounds when you can't use that one finger you need.
Why does this surprise me, you might wonder? Well, I know quite a bit of Dutch these days, and I've got to the stage where I can't remember English words for things now and can only come up with the Dutch ones. In fact, I use Dutch a lot for business communication and for organising my life. But, that's different from real native speaker type fluency and skill. For social and creative communication, I'm still at the extremely conscious incompetence stage. In that respect, I'm still a beginner, a novice and a complete fumbler. Hence the injured finger analogy.
Still. I'll keep practising, and I hope I'll keep learning. Koos tells me I'm not 'fossilising' yet...nice, hey? Actually that's a real term used in linguistics when people get to a certain level and then get stuck. You can fossilise at a very early age. I love the image! Anyhow, I haven't got stuck in a lump of linguistic granite yet, and I am still making progress. I have to in fact. Why? Because next month I'm hoping to take the higher level state Dutch exam. Dus allemaal....ik ga nu slapen en ik wens jullie een goede week. Nighty night, tot ziens en slaap lekker! Tot volgende keer...