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(Latin: 'I have carried much')
was the pen name of
Eduard Douwes Dekker
who resigned from his position in the colonial bureaucracy of the
Dutch Indies (now Indonesia) in protest over the exploitation of the
indigenous population, in particular the free hand given local
rulers in dealing with their subjects. Multatuli's 1860 novel
is a slightly fictionalized account of his experiences. It is still
considered one of the best, if not the best book in Dutch literature.
His sentences are a bit long, but his language is very lively.
The book's first paragraph introduces the dour narrator of the first chapters Batavus Droogstoppel .
Douwes Dekker's spelling is a bit idiosyncratic. For instance, he writes koffi for koffie, and Y for IJ, like in myn for mijn.
|Multatuli: Max Havelaar|
|I am a dealer in coffee, and live at 37 Lauriergracht.||Ik ben makelaar in koffi, en woon op de Lauriergracht no 37.|
|I am not in the habit of writing novels, or things like that, and it has taken me some time, before I took the step of ordering a few extra reams of paper, and started the work that you, dear reader, have just picked up, and that you should read if you are a coffee dealer, and also if you're something else.||Het is myn gewoonte niet, romans te schryven, of zulke dingen, en het heeft dan ook lang geduurd, voor ik er toe overging een paar riem papier extra te bestellen, en het werk aan te vangen, dat gy, lieve lezer, zo-even in de hand hebt genomen, en dat ge lezen moet als ge makelaar in koffi zyt, of als ge wat anders zyt.|
|Not only that I've never written something like a novel, but I don't even like to read things like that, because I am a businessman.||Niet alleen dat ik nooit iets schreef dat naar een roman geleek, maar ik houd er zelfs niet van, iets dergelyks te lezen, omdat ik een man van zaken ben.|
|For years already I've wondered what the good of those things is, and I'm amazed at the impudence of poets and novelists spinning their tales of things that never happened, and usually cannot really happen.||Sedert jaren vraag ik my af, waartoe zulke dingen dienen, en ik sta verbaasd over de onbeschaamdheid waarmede een dichter of romanverteller u iets op de mouw durft spelden, dat nooit gebeurd is, en meestal niet gebeuren kan.|
|If I in my business -- I am a dealer in coffee, and live at 37 Lauriergracht -- would make a statement to a 'principal' -- a 'principal' is a seller of coffee -- that contained just a few of the fictions that constitute the main part of poems and novels, he would switch to Busselinck & Waterman right away.||Als ik in myn vak -- ik ben makelaar in koffi, en woon op de Lauriergracht no 37 -- aan een principaal -- een principaal is iemand die koffi verkoopt -- een opgave deed waarin maar een klein gedeelte der onwaarheden voorkwam, die in gedichten en romans de hoofdzaak uitmaken, zou hy terstond Busselinck & Waterman nemen.|
|They are dealers in coffee like me, but there's no need for you to know their address.||Dat zyn ook makelaars in koffi, doch hun adres behoeft ge niet te weten.|
|Therefore, I will not write novels or make other false statements.||Ik pas er dus wel op, dat ik geen romans schryf, of andere valse opgaven doe.|
|I have often noted that people who are engaged in such things usually end up badly.||Ik heb dan ook altyd opgemerkt dat mensen die zich met zo-iets inlaten, gewoonlyk slecht wegkomen.|
|I am 43 years old, and I have been going to the Exchange for twenty years, so I can step forward, if an experienced person is called for.||Ik ben drie en veertig jaren oud, bezoek sedert twintig jaren de beurs, en kan dus voor den dag treden, als men iemand roept die ondervinding heeft.|
|I have already seen many companies fail! (literally: 'houses fall')||Ik heb al wat huizen zien vallen!|
|And usually, when I looked into the
I thought the
reason was the wrong direction given to most people in their
|En gewoonlyk, wanneer ik de oorzaken naging, kwam het me voor, dat die moesten gezocht worden in de verkeerde richting die aan de meesten gegeven was in hun jeugd.|
In the common self-depreciating mode, Dutchmen often say:
"Ik, zei de gek" 2 ('I [me] said the crazy man')
|"I am"||"my dog"||"remember me"
"he hit me"
(for 'het' words)
(for 'de' words)
|words for 'you'||
||we/wij, je/jij, ze/zij||
||hun and hen||
||pronouncing the W in jou/jouw and U/Uw||
||it's and its||
||the gender of the possessive pronouns||
||ge and gij||
||no apostrophe-S in the possessive||
Dutch words for 'you'
Please note that the Dutch word for you in the singular (jij, je) is different from you in the plural (jullie.) Dutch also frequently uses the polite form of you: 'U,' to older people or other people deserving respect; it should also be used when addressing people in a subservient position, like sales clerks, bus or cab drivers, or hotel and restaurant staff. This 'U' is rarely used in the plural. Because of the polite 'U' Dutch uses words like 'please' much less than English. But it's not wrong to say: alstublieft ('please.') It took me a long time to automatically insert 'please' in my English questions.
Je hoeft geen 'U' te zeggen 2 3 4 You don't have to say 'U' (the polite address) Je mag wel 'je' zeggen 2 It's OK to say 'je' now (the informal address) tutoyeren (from French) 2 3 / jijen en jouwen 'address each other with the informal 'jij,' 'je' and 'jou,' - 'being on a first-name basis'
IJ and E forms
As the table shows, Dutch has an -IJ and an -E ('voiceless E' - sometimes represented by an apostrophe) form for many of the personal pronouns. The -IJ form refers more pointedly, but the difference is small. For students it's perfectly alright to just use the -E form. Especially with second person singular informal that will save you some trouble. In almost every situation you can use je instead of jij, jouw or jou.
We zijn de dupe 2 3 We are the victims, we pay the price, we've been had Wij zijn de dupe 2 3 We are the ones paying the price, it's us who are the victims Weet je waar de sleutel is? Do you know where the key is? - Do you happen to know? Weet jij waar de sleutel is? 2 Do you know where the key is? - Are you the one who knows? Weet jij hoe je 't moet uitspreken? 2 3 Do you know how to pronounce it? (can you tell me?) Weet je hoe je 't moet uitspreken? 2 Do you know how to pronounce it? (if not, I can tell you) The -IJ form is only used as the nominative, the subject.
There is a similar specificity with jou
2 - 'you' singular
3rd and 4th person
Als ik jou was ... 2 If I were you ...
Als ik jou was zou ik niet gaan If I were you I wouldn't go
It's wrong to say 'Als ik je was ...' - more examples
wat Nederland voor jou kan doen, maar vraag
je af wat jij voor Nederland kunt doen
Do not ask
what Holland can do for you,
but ask yourself what you can do for Holland
(naar president Kennedy
after president Kennedy)
Vraag niet wat Nederland voor je kan doen, maar vraag je af wat je voor Nederland kunt doen 2 3
The 'various forms' line is better Dutch, but the 'all-je' line is not wrong
'Hun' and 'hen'
The dative form (third case, indirect object, 'receiving') of the third person plural 'ze' ('they') is 'hun' ("Give them books") - which is also the possessive; the accusative (fourth case, direct object) is 'hen' 2 ('He kicked them') - for all other personal pronouns the third and fourth case are the same. But the fourth case of the third person plural hen is falling into disuse and many people in Holland now use hun instead.
Genitive, possessive form:
Ze doen hun best 2 3 They're doing their best, they're doing the best they can Dative, indirect object form:
Ik zal 't hun geven I'll give it to them Hij vertelde hun wat er gebeurd was 2 He told them what had happened Accusative, direct object form (it feels unnecessary formal):
De trein bracht hen naar Den Haag The train brought them to The Hague Ze hielp hen met de vertaling She helped them with the translation Heb je hen gezien? 2 Have you seen them? - 'hun' may not be formally correct, but it feels more natural:
Heb je hun gezien? 2 Have you seen them? Hij sprak hun tegen 2 ['He spoke against them'] - He contradicted them, he said their version was untrue or not correct
Pronouncing 'jou' and 'jouw,'
'U' and 'Uw'
Jou and jouw are pronounced almost exactly the same (I seem to hear a very slight difference) - both end in a Dutch W sound; but U and Uw should not sound the same, there is NO Dutch W sound in 'U:'
Heeft Uw hond U gebeten? - Bent U gebeten door Uw hond? ('Did your dog bite you?' - 'Were you bitten by your dog?')
In spoken language, 'hij' ('he') after a verb or words like 'dat,' 'wat,' 'waar' etc. can be replaced by -ie 2
Heeft-ie kinderen? 2 Does he have children? - more examples
Its and It's
Het is not used as often as its English equivalent 'it'; only for the abstract, like
"Het is tien uur," (It's ten o'clock.) - more
Het is often shortened to 't - note the vowel change from 'short E' to 'voiceless E.' (As we've seen in Lesson 4, 'het' is also the article for 'neutral' words.)
"'t Is mooi weer." (It's nice weather.)
'It is said that ...' is best said in Dutch as "Men zegt dat ..." Dutch 'men' is an occasional 'they' or 'people.' more examples
Dutch has no separate possessive form
for the neutral third person
singular ('its.') Use zijn
('his') or occasionally haar
De hond en z'n vlooien 2 3 The dog and its fleas
(Some English-speaking pet owners use male or female personal pronouns for their animals) De komeet en z'n staart 2 The comet and its tail Maart roert z'n staart 2 'March wags its tail' - bad weather at the end of March 't Vogeltje zit op z'n nestje 2 The little bird is sitting on its nest Het vogeltje en haar jongen The little bird and its young Het schip en haar bemanning The ship and its (her?) crew Het meisje en haar hondje 2 The girl and her (small) dog Het jongetje en zijn hondje 2 The little boy and his (small) dog
Also note that in Dutch the possessive
pronoun is determined by the sex or gender and singular/plural
of the person or the thing
possessing, and not by the gender or sex and singular/plural
of the item or person
possessed like in the Romance languages (I'm including French
translation to show the difference)
De moeder en haar zoon 2 3 The mother and her son
La mère et son fils De moeder en haar kinderen The mother and her children
La mère et ses enfants De vader en z'n dochter 2 3 The father and his daughter
Le père et sa fille Except ons/onze ('our') - 'ons' for 'het' words in the singular and 'onze' for 'de' words and all plurals
ons Indië 'our India' (the Dutch Indies, now Indonesia) ons koude kikkerland our chilly frog's country (it's a wretched place but it's home) onze gevederde vrienden 'our feathered friends' i.e. birds 't Onze Vader 2 [The Our Father] - The Lord's Prayer ‑>> Wij zingen ons volkslied 2 3 We're singing our anthem We verven ons huis 2 3 We're painting our house We wassen onze auto 2 3 We're washing our car We wassen onze ramen 2 3 We're washing our windows
'Ge' and 'Gij'
In the fragment I read at the top of the page, Douwes Dekker uses the Flemish gij and ge for 'you,' second person singular, informal and polite. It's unusual in Netherlands Modern Dutch, though it survives in a few phrases and prayers.
.. Gij zijt de gezegende onder de vrouwen ... 2 ... Thou art the blessed one among the women ... (from the Hail Mary) Bezint eer ge begint 2 3 'Consider, think before you [start] act'
Apostrophe in Dutch Possessives - Very Unusual
Moeders wil is wet 2 A mother's wishes are the law of the house M'n vaders vrienden My father's friends Following the English example, many Dutchmen write moeder's, vader's with apostrophe ((de) apostrof ) but that is not correct in Dutch.
There is an apostrophe-S in the special case of a word or name ending in a single vowel, to keep that vowel 'long:'
Saskia - Saskia's portret 2 3 Saskia's portrait
Pichegru's leger 2 3 (Pichegru's army)
This is not really a possessive apostrophe. It's like the apostrophe in plurals of words that end in a single vowel, also 'to keep that vowel long.'
(de) paprika / paprika's - bell pepper
(de) foto / foto's - picture, photograph - more
To avoid problems you could use the somewhat elaborate van ('of') construction - more, for example:
De vrienden van m'n vader ("The friends of my father's")
Note that Dutch just writes vader - there is no apostrophe-S figure like in English "father's". (I was a bit puzzled by the English 'S, until I realized it's like in German: Die Freunde meines Vaters.)
See also: the 'Van' page
Names ending in a silent S
Studying the Dutch government publication De Spelling van De Nederlandse Taal (1974) I see something like Frits' kamer - but I don't know how to pronounce that S: a long hiss or something like Fritsus kamer? If I pronounce the S' as a regular S, the next word sounds more like it is Frits' last name than his 'room.' The other examples in the book: Beets' Gedichten ('poems') and Van Heutsz' veldtochten ('miltary campaigns') are acceptable because the noun is expected. It would be best to avoid this S-apostrophe for common names ending in -S.
To avoid those problems you could use the possessive personal pronouns zijn ('his') - more or haar ('her') - more - which are also used for 'its' - more
Klaas z'n paard 2 3 Klaas' horse
But trying out pronunciation I noticed that in names ending in a silent S that S does get pronounced when it's a possessive, and it's not a problem for me. It feels 'natural' and is not awkward.
Louis - Louis' boeken 2 3 Louis' books
(het) taalgevoel 2 3 the intuitive understanding of your native language or a language you're very familiar with
For zich and zichzelf ('yourself') see Reflexive Verbs
See also: Personal Pronouns Sample Sentences
|zijn||to be - present tense|
you are [informal, singular]
you are [informal, plural]
you are [polite]
ik ben blij
jij bent blij
hij is blij
wij zijn blij
jullie zijn blij
zij zijn blij
I am happy
you are happy
he is happy
we are happy
you are happy
they are happy
ben ik blij?
ben jij blij?
is hij blij?
zijn wij blij?
zijn jullie blij?
zijn zij blij?
am I happy?
are you happy?
is he happy?
are we happy?
are you happy?
are they happy?
|U bent blij
bent U blij?
|you are happy
are you happy?
In question mode, Dutch turns subject and verb around, like English
sometimes does. Note that in question mode the T-ending for
je/jij (you informal singular) is dropped, but not for 'U' (you
ben je wakker? ('are you awake?' [you - singular informal]) - bent U wakker? ('are you awake?' [you - singular polite])
|Wie is de mooiste in het land?
Sneeuwwitje is de mooiste in het land.
|('Who is the prettiest in the land?')
('Snow White is the prettiest in the land.')
|Wat is dat?
Het is een bidsprinkhaan.
('It's a praying [grasshopper] mantis.')
|Waar is de uitgang?
Hier is de ingang.
Daar is de uitgang.
De uitgang is daar.
|('Where is the exit?')
('The entry is here.')
('There is the exit')
('The exit is [over] there.')
|Wanneer ben je jarig?
Wanneer is hij jarig?
|('When is your birthday?')
('When is his birthday? [Where is his birthday suit?]')
|Hoe lang ben je?
Ik ben 1 meter 80.
|('How tall are you?')
('I am 1 meter 80 centimeters tall.' = 5'11")
|Hoe is het weer?
Het is koud.
|('How is the weather?')
('It is cold.')
|Waarom ben je boos?
|('Why are you angry?')
|Wie is er aan de beurt?||('Whose turn is it?' 'Who's Next?')|
|Ben ik aan de beurt?||('Is it my turn?')||ik ben||('[I am] it's my turn')|
|Jij bent aan de beurt||('It's your turn')||jij bent 2||('[you are] it's your turn') This is one of the few places where jij is better than je.|
|chess||cards and dice||zij is||('[she is] it's her turn') Like in the line above, here zij is better than ze.|
<< previous - verbs central - next >>
Because there are already so many things to learn in this lesson, there will be no vocabulary section.
From about 1600 to 1750, Holland was a major power, with the largest
merchant fleet of any nation, and the highest Gross National Product
per capita in the world. Dutchmen call the 17th Century
De Gouden Eeuw
('The Golden Century') - even though in the first half we were still
at war with Spain, and in the third quarter there were three wars with
Trade was the source of prosperity, and it was in part based on technological advances. Wind-powered sawmills cut wood for shipbuilding, and an efficient Dutch ship design called fluit ('flute') was cheaper to build and could be handled by a smaller crew than other vessels of that time. Also, Dutch fishermen had discovered that in preparing herring for storage (haring kaken - removing the gills and innards, and salting) the taste of the fish was greatly improved by leaving in the pancreas (alvleesklier ) - its enzymes would do something beneficial to the fish meat (traditionally ascribed to Willem Beukelszoon , also: Willem Beukelsz. 2, ca 1400.)
In trade and shipping, the Dutch were competing with the English.
The 1651 English 'Act of Navigation' said that foreign ships could
only transport their own country's products to England and the
British colonies. The law was meant to limit Dutch international
An important goal of the Anglo-Dutch wars was damaging the opponent's
trade and economy, by blockades, piracy and attacks on fishermen.
De Tweede Engelse Zeeoorlog (1665-67) was won by the Dutch, after in the last year the Dutch fleet entered the river Thames, and a small squadron sailed up the Medway and destroyed or captured much of the British fleet at Chatham. Every Dutch schoolage child (schoolboy) knows about the heavy chain that was blocking the way (it was probably a combination of chains and rafts); some say ship De Vreede ('peace') of Captain Jan van Brakel cleared it, but others say the chain was actually broken by his lieutenant Jan Daniëls van Rijn in the fire ship Pro Patria (Latin: 'For My Country.') The English were down because of the Great Fire of London and a plague outbreak; still a glorious feat of Dutch arms. In the negotiations, Holland traded Dutch New York (already occupied by the English) for the South American colony of Suriname 2 (its capital is Paramaribo 2) which looked more profitable at the time.
In the first year of De Derde Engelse Zeeoorlog
(1672-74), a British-French alliance came close to crushing the Dutch
In Dutch, 1672 is called het rampjaar
('the disastrous year.')
The leader of the Dutch government
Johan de Witt
was lynched by a mob, and to stop
the invading French army much land had to be
flooded. Luckily, the enemy alliance
fell apart, and Holland did not lose this war. Peace was made with the
French in 1678.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam paintings of sea battles of the Third
In 1689 the Dutch
Willem III and his wife Mary (daughter of English King James II)
became King and Queen of England ('William and Mary') and relations
between the countries were better for the next 100 years, until
De Vierde Engelse Zeeoorlog
(1781-1784), over Dutch support for the
American Revolution, mainly the providing of gunpowder and
loans. There were no great sea battles, but England choked off Dutch commerce.
Imagine for a moment that New York had remained Dutch in 1667. It would have greatly changed the course of the American revolution. Would the Dutch have cooperated with the English to suppress the colonies' bid for independence, thus depriving the Americans of the support we gave them in the real history - or would New Amsterdam have become the revolutionaries' safe haven? But in that scenario England might have attacked Holland in Europe more seriously.
A nice anecdote of the 1672-78 war with the French: