Thursday Things

1. I downloaded Duolingo on New Year’s Day because the App Store told me it would make me a better person, and to learn Dutch for my impending trip to the Netherlands (by “impending” I mean “extremely hypothetical, but hopefully in the spring of 2017, provided I don’t talk myself out of it, and/or blow my entire Netherlands travel budget on physical therapy. Again.”).

I’ve learned some useful vocabulary up to this point. Man. Woman. Boy. Girl. Child. Orange. Sandwich. Chicken. Juice. Milk. Wine. You know, the standard collection of random nouns you’d expect out of an introduction to a language. But then there are situations like this:



that make me question the usefulness of this app. Is this a phrase I’m likely to need to know, on vacation or literally at any point in my life? Is this something the Dutch say routinely? Is there a hidden meaning here I’m missing? Is Duolingo messing with me?

(In case you’re wondering, the translation is “Pardon, ik ben een appel.” You can keep that one in your back pocket free of charge, along with my personal favorite sentence, “Wil je een koekje?” which, as I’m sure you know, is Dutch for “Would you like a cookie?”)

Aside from my occasional concerns about content relevance, for the most part, I’ve enjoyed Duolingo. I’m interested in the pedagogy behind it, because its approach to teaching you language is much different than your standard classroom setting (which is the only way I’ve learned language, other than English, of course). I feel like I’ve learned more using Duolingo than I did in a semester of Dutch in college, and I can usually do a decent job with translating in the app, but I wonder how I’d be if I actually had to speak Dutch. The app does talk to you so you know what words sound like, and occasionally says sentences to you in Dutch that you have to then type in Dutch, so the listening aspect isn’t entirely absent. I’m just curious how effective language instruction can be without an oral component.

I haven’t done it yet, but I’m also curious how I’d perform on their Spanish instruction, given that I have eight years of classroom Spanish under my belt (though it’s been a while since I’ve spoken/written Spanish).

2. While we’re on the topic of the Dutch language, I would like to say–nay, proclaim–that I am personally offended by Wendy’s Bacon Gouda Cheeseburger ad. Behold:

OHHHHHHHHHHH SURE. We can pronounce “gruyere” correctly. No problem. After all, that’s a French word! Obviously it’s pronounced fancily! But that other “g” cheese? THERE ARE NO RULES!! ENGLISH 4EVA!!

My crusade to educate the masses on the correct pronunciation of “gouda” (IT’S “HOW-DUH,” PEOPLE. ALWAYS AND ONLY “HOW-DUH.”) continues.

3. Last Saturday, my marathon training group had our end of the season party (though can you really call it that three months after the marathon? At this point, it feels more like just a party), and a couple people in my group mentioned that they are attempting to do a dry January. Then on Tuesday, a girl in my dance class said she’s doing the same thing. What’s fascinated me is how much all of these people expect to struggle with not drinking for 31 days (and five weekends). I can’t fathom having trouble not drinking for a month. Asking me to give up alcohol for a month is the most minor of sacrifices. It’d be like asking me to dogsit a well-behaved, potty-trained, friendly cuddlebug of a dog–the literal opposite of a burden. I “didn’t drink” during marathon season, which was probably the easiest thing I did during marathon season (in the interest of full disclosure, I think I did have four total drinks during those 18 weeks, but saying I wasn’t drinking during marathon season was my default excuse whenever I didn’t want to drink–which was clearly the VAST majority of the time.)

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that giving up alcohol for most of those people is probably a lot like giving up sweets for me, which I have never been able to do successfully unless as a religious discipline during Lent (but that’s way less about health/personal challenges, and way more about keeping me aware of the season, so my motivation is different.). Everyone has their own weakness, I suppose, and just because something is (or isn’t) hard for you doesn’t mean it would be for other people. A good thing to keep in mind!

Can you speak any languages other than English?
Will you join me on my mission to educate all on the correct pronunciation of gouda? Hint: there is only one right answer to that question.

11 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. I do my best to correct people on the pronunciation of gouda since you taught me how to say it 🙂

    You’re totally right that “vices” for each person are different. Me? I’m just intrigued by how “dry January” became a thing. Like, how did it start and is is just because of Facebook/social media that it caught on?

    • Hooray! My crusade is working! With your Dutch last name, your help carries extra weight 😛

      It’s got to be a social media thing. I NEVER heard of anyone doing dry January before this year. I’m sure people did it, but it seems to have totally exploded this year, and I imagine social media has a ton to do with that. Or maybe I just have more people who like to drink in my social circle now than I used to? Haha.

  2. I never understood why it was so hard for people either. When I was swimming in college, we had dry month and people acted like it was the end of the world. I was slightly jealous actually, not because I wished I drank (obviously I don’t considering I still don’t drink), but because I was wondering if they would experience greater benefits from not drinking than I would since I never drank. I don’t know if that makes sense. I felt like I was at a disadvantage to see the results at the championships for not being dry all season. Ask me to give up dessert… well then we might have a problem HAHA

    • We had a dry campus at my college (which certainly doesn’t mean that people didn’t drink – just that it didn’t happen as much on campus as it did off campus), and during their seasons, athletes, regardless of their age/living situation, weren’t supposed to drink at all. When the basketball team lost the first game of the NCAA tournament, I’m pretty sure the whole team immediately went to the bar haha.

  3. I watched a Food Network special once on the making of various forms of cheese, and it was then I learned how to correctly pronounce gouda, too!

    I’ve never heard of Duolingo before but I am curious to try it out now! I love the collection of basic words you’ve picked up so far! A friend and I once joked that you really only need to know two phrases in any language to get by: 1) Help me! and 2) Where is the bathroom?

    I am intrigued by the Dutch phrases! I took German in high school and there’s a lot of similarity between German and Dutch. To say “I am an apple” in German, it would be “Ich bin en Apfel.” =D =D =D =D =D

    • WOOHOO! I’m so glad to hear that you know how to correctly pronounce gouda, and that the Food Network is helping to educate masses as well, especially since their reach is much larger than mine!

      Hilariously, I don’t know either one of those phrases in Dutch. I wouldn’t even know how to try to say them. Hahaha. Maybe that comes up in a later lesson 😛 It’s a fun app, though! Last night I played on it for almost an hour, just because I find it an enjoyable way to pass the time.

  4. I too am trying to do the “dry January” I’ve found it difficult in that there’s been a few work happy hours planned that I’ve declined, Tinder dates always = “grab a drink” …especially if it’s during the week, I probably won’t meet up with someone for coffee before work. And now I have no plans this weekend and I know people are going out on Saturday, so I probably will too. So I find it hard from the social perspective, not really the “I need to/want to” drink perspective. And I must admit, I did not know that’s how to pronounce gouda. I’ll do my best to spread the word now too 🙂

    • Yay! Welcome to the crusade! Together, we can educate the English-speaking world! Hahaha.

      That makes sense from the social perspective. A lot of people in my running group mentioned that, too, especially with five weekends in January (and the ones who are doing it are single, which also puts a monkey wrench in things.). I’m fascinated by how many people go out for drinks for their first date, though. I went out on SO many first dates last year, and I think only two of them were for drinks (those were two of the times I drank during marathon season haha)! I’m trying to think about what else I did…I did coffee a couple times. Got ice cream once. Went rock climbing. Went to Jazzin at the Shedd (with a guy had texted me addressing me as Allison. HAHAHA. Needless to say, there was no second date with him.). Went to dinner a couple times. Went to brunch a couple times. But yeah, I feel you on the date thing. I’d get all flustered during marathon season when someone would ask me out for drinks, because I didn’t really want to drink…but I’d usually end up doing it anyway. It’s such an easy default for a first date.

  5. I had to search through several YouTube videos to find one with the correct pronunciation of gouda so I could show Matt. (He did not believe me when I said it was “how-da”). So they are not helping your cause!

    I am not partaking in dry January. I guess if I felt like I had really overindulged over the holidays I would be more inclined. I can see how a dry January could feel limiting socially. I hope it would give people some motivation to find activities outside of going to a bar but that can be difficult too.

    • I KNOW. There’s so much misinformation out there to dispel! I’ll never forget when I was in high school, there was this ad on TV for Microsoft Office, and this person who was allegedly a cheese professional (I’m sure there’s a real word for that that I don’t know) called it goo-duh, and I was flabbergasted. It was the first time I had ever heard anyone call it that, and I was embarrassed on his behalf that he made such a mistake in a national ad campaign. Little did I know that HE probably didn’t know he was making a mistake! But, person by person, I’m confident we can bring about really change! Hahaha.

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