Netherlands

nl_map

The "Netherlands" is a plural word.

The Netherlands comprise at least two countries: Holland and Friesland, much as Great Britain comprises England and Scotland (and Wales). As shown in the map above, there are many different states. In fact, "Holland" actually comprises both North (Noord) and South (Zuid) Holland.

But there is much more to the Netherlands than just (North AND South) Holland. For example, there is Noord Brabant, Friesland, Limburg, Gelderland, and so forth.

Mijndenforest

Nederland encompasses a variety of cultures that I am only beginning to understand. What I do understand is that it is not about wooden shoes and fingers in dikes and cheese. Certainly these are important, but the essential character that I have seen is one of order and civility.

The Minjden forest above is just one example. By taming the flood and the passions of men the Nederlanders have created a special sanctuary of peace and beauty.

Suffice it to say that on first meeting the Nederlanders I was struck with their influence on our American culture. Driving north from Amsterdam into Friesland and listening to the radio I was vaguely troubled by the fact that the radio sounded like American English, but was totally incomprehensible. Then it dawned on me: perhaps the reason that Americans sound like they do is that the British language merged with the Dutch accent in New Amsterdam?

Polyglots have it all:

Speak French with a Spanish accent and you have Marseillaise

Speak Spanish with a French accent and you have Portuguese

Speak British with a Dutch accent and you have American...

If you have any comments or insights on the above, please let me know.

I hope to learn much, much more about the Netherlands. These are some of the key points I've found so far:

Den Haag is the seat of government, replete in historic places and scenes.

Amsterdam is the center of commerce and a cultural melting pot.

Leiden is a center of intellectual excellence with the University and a history of progressive thought

The IJsselmeer is a modern wonder of the world, encompassing heroic and successful assaults on the forces of nature in order to maintain order and productivity.

Noord Brabant is the boundary between centuries old conflicts and a place of quiet wonder and kindness.

I've highlighted only a few of the many links available to this amazing little country that quietly is at the heart of the heritage of freedom-loving countries world wide. As Prokofiev said, if you listen carefully... you will find the presence of the Dutch.