The first year of study focused on the basics of course, such as grasping the grammar rules of Dutch and cultural aspects of the Netherlands and Flanders. Did you know for example that the Dutch Christmas figure Sinterklaas, who comes to the Netherlands every year on a boat from Spain to deliver presents to well-behaved children, gave us the name Santa Claus in English?
I had the opportunity to visit Amsterdam as a student of Dutch sponsored by the Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Board). As a fan of Dutch architecture, it was a profitable trip, which also led to some interesting conversations with locals in Dutch, such as one with a shopkeeper on why orange is the national colour.
The second year of study concentrated on the study of the Marga Minco book Het bittere kruid, which deals with a Jewish family’s experience during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, and also provided insights into cultural phenomena.
What’s this got to do with translation? A comparative analysis of Dutch with German led to a more rapid grasp of Dutch and intensive study of its cultural references. Many of these have no equivalent in English, so it is important that, as your translator from Dutch, I have taken the time to integrate these into my skillset.