It was my first day at the university. I was meeting with a study advisor, an experienced and respected professor. Suddenly the phone rang, and the professor engaged in a short conversation with a colleague. What came at the end of this conversation, however, totally blew me away.
Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek
The Dutch have a very special way of saying goodbye. The cheerful doei! is quite well known, and possibly also the insistence on declaring precisely when we will be seeing each other next (tot morgen, tot maandag!). However when it comes to ending phone conversations in the Netherlands, I encountered a phenomenon here that was new to me.
First of all, the end of the conversation is extremely drawn out. It involves a series of da’s goed’s and ja’s that indicate the conversation is over but for some reason is still not being terminated. Next come several indistinguishable sounds like joehoe and joepie, eventually leading up to the anticipated doei, dag or doeg. But perhaps the strangest thing of all is the fact that this whole ritual is done in a cheerful sing-song voice, with tones going up and down, that is very hard to describe and is especially unexpected when coming from a respected older male professor.
My Dutch friends seem to be unaware of this habit, which got me wondering if I was hallucinating that day with the professor. But when I checked with other foreign friends, they all shared my experience, and were equally surprised to hear such singing in the most unexpected contexts.
David Katzin, PhD candidate at the Farm Technology group, from Israel
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