Monday, 16 April 2001
There is a wide variety of nationalities in Keukenhof ( It already starts at the bus stop in Leiden ( Being a Dutchman in Holland I still feel like a foreigner amongst the South Africans, the Chinese, Japanese, Germans and an odd American.

Most of these foreigners know how to behave themselves. There is just one nation that stands out, in a negative way: the Americans. Americans cannot tolerate silence. They must make a noise, and in a very irritating way too.


Americans do not speak, they gnaw at maximum volume. Obviously an American assumes that the whole world is waiting for his crummy little opinion.

Forget it. Other nationalities really know how to think for themselves. Tip for Americans: Speak softly, so only your interlocutor can hear you.


The most important subject for an American at school is to express himself ( Unfortunately, this education focuses solely on form and volume, not on content. An American has nothing worth telling, does not have an opinion worth sharing.

Typical remarks:

  • Oh look, there is a path!
    Well, what do you think? Keukenhof was made to walk through. No really, the other visitors do have eyes themselves. And yes, they do know how to recognise a path. You stupid Americans do not have to point it out.
    Why the Dutch

  • Oh look, isn't that like beautiful?.
    Well, what do you think? Keukenhof was made to be beautiful. That's why most visitors come here in the first place.
  • Oh look, isn't that like amazing?.
    No! This whole continent knows how to appreciate beauty. It's a part of our culture, nothing to be amazed about. That's why we have paintings in this country, for centuries already, and flower fields and beautiful architecture. Please stay on the couch and watch TV in your ugly States if you can't stand it.
Tip for Americans: Open your mouth only if you really have something to say. And no, this is not when you want to tell something, but only if somebody else appreciates listening to you.

Test: Would a Dutchman spend $5 to hear your remark? He won't? Then, please shut up!


An American does not speak any languages, no foreign languages and not even his own language.

A Dutchman visiting a foreign country will try to speak at least a few words. Not an American. The only sound he manages to produce is his own gnawing American English. It is awful, a continuous flow of soap-show one-liners without any subtlety or intelligence. It really hurts your ears.

Till next week,

Feel an urgent need to express yourself?

Especially American readers may feel an urge to express themselves after reading this article.

Well, here is some good news. Cyberspace offers the perfect place to do so:

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Thanks a lot to Antoinette Coetzee for her translation into Afrikaans.