12/15/2006

Feeling Flemish

I spent some time in Belgium recently. It struck me that I stood out there as being from Not Here. I like to travel a little more incognito (despite the fact that Americans are received so well as the polite and quiet tourists that we are), so I thought it would be worth figuring out how I could go more native next time around.

I think I've nailed down a couple of things about the natives that made me stand out: eyeglasses and language.

Eyeglasses: Everyone seemed to wear the same type of glasses: narrow, rectangular frames.

Language: Being American, I'm restricted by U.S. law from knowing any languages besides English, but I took note of the types of sounds and syllables they use here. Here are some samples:

  • "keivoos" (very bad),
  • "keimottig" (very ugly)
  • "Grote Markt" (haven't a clue what this means)
  • "sneeuwwit" (Snow White)

and of course who could forget:

  • "Wie got er mee ne frit steken?" (want to go get some fries with me?).

Also, when I went to a restaurant there, the waiter asked me to "Please shit down". Then my friend swore that a shop lady finished a transaction by telling him nicely "Bling blang". Clearly, faking this language will take some work, but I think it's worth the effort.

Here is my proposed disguise for any future trips to this area:


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