The English Language

Aspiring to become a writer in the English language as a Dutch person might seem a crazy idea. Dutch is my mothertongue, whereas English is not. I’ve been learning the latter for the past six years, meaning that I should be relatively fluent. However, wouldn’t writing stories in Dutch be much easier?

Yes and no, I would say. Personally, I find it to be easier to write my drafts in Dutch. That way, I get to write down the main ideas of the story and get them out of my head. However, these are just drafts. They are the outline of my story. Whenever I try to write the real deal in this language, it fails. Somehow, it does not sound natural, fun or lively to me. Maybe it’s because I am not that great with the Dutch language. Maybe it’s because the Dutch language itself is not that fun or lively – and I’ve heard that often enough. Still, books keep appearing in that language, so I must be the one who is doing something wrong. I prefer to write in English because it is fun, simple as that. Stories seem to come alive that way. My characters sound like they are speaking in their own voices. That is another problem I have: about half of my thoughts are in English. Thinking mainly bilingual thoughts is not good for either language.

I’d like to give a few examples of this “fun” language, but I know it would be quite impossible to understand for anyone who isn’t Dutch themselves. Let’s see, though… “Flabbergasted” is translated as “verbaasd”. “Whizz down” as in, climb down rapidly, is translated as… “snel naar beneden klimmen”. “Tiptoe” is de same as “op de tenen lopen”. There are several reasons as to why Dutch does not sound fun to me. Firstly, many of the sounds that express the words nicely in English are lost in Dutch. I love the word “flabbergasted”, “verbaasd” not so much. Secondly, often long phrases are needed to express something in Dutch whereas one word would be enough in English. English is more direct, emotional and expressive. So am I. Besides, my grammatical knowledge of either language is not that great, so it’s not like writing in Dutch would give me any real advancement.

Maybe I am crazy, but I will try to succeed. I am a traitor of my own language either way, seeing how much I dislike it. I am never going back.

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