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Monday, June 1, 2009

Confusion with numbers

As if other things were not enough!! The Dutch punctuation system can catch you off-guard sometimes. Okie, so what is this - Euro 3.990? haha! that is not 3 euro and 99 cents my dear friend, that is Euro 3990 and 3,99 is 3 euro and 99 cents. Of course, looking at a bag of noodles you would know that it is not going to cost Euro 399 but cosmetics and jwellery, not so sure! Especially scientific measurements - 1.399,02 - what the heck is that??

The Dutch clock reading is yet another complication - the hour is divided into four quarters. For example -

10:00 - tien uur (perfect!)
10:05 - vijf over tien (5 past 10, fair enough)
10:15 - kwart over tien (quarter over 10, not bad)
10:20 - tien voor half elf (10 minutes of for half eleven - whhhaaa?)
10:30 - half elf (half eleven - why why? why can't it be simple ten thirty?)
10:35 - vijf over half elf (5 past half eleven...I am already lost)
10:45 - kwart voor elf (quarter for eleven - makes perfect sense)
10:50 - tien voor elf (10 minutes for eleven)
11:00 - elf uur (sigh!!)

All that in reading is comprehendable, but in super fast speaking, leaves you wondering which quarter you are in!

Even more confusing is the way they say the numbers. Till 20, perfect, no problem
but 21 - een en twintig (one and twenty)
and 43 - drie en veertig (three and forty)

okie, that is also fine but here is the tricky part. The Dutch speak all numbers in pairs. For instance, if your postcode is -

2143 QK, then they would say - een en twintig drie en veertig QK and you are mentally expecting something like - two one four three QK in regular English. So when you quickly hear - een en twintig drie en veertig you write it as 1234 QK!!! Phone numbers are equally complicated. Sigh!! Thankfully the Dutch are very polite and they immediately switch to English, seeing the lost expression on your face but its not easy in telephone conversations.

Time and only time with some actual practice of my Dutch lessons will help me. For anyone interested, is a good website for basic Dutch.
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