Posts Tagged ‘English’

This jungle our garden. هذه الغابة لدينا حديقة.

October 20, 2017

IMG_20171017_161555garden

As a concession to our need to be more inclusive and in the spirit of multiculturalism I will put the next few articles  translated in some of the main languages spoken and written in this wonderful world. We will start of in Arabic using the Google translation method. To our Arabic speaking friends I hope the translation comes across as reasonable!

I am more than pleased that the attempt by our minister for Immigration and (the much feared) Border Protection, Mr Peter Dutton, to make it harder for migrants to become permanent residents by setting university level English language skills has resoundedly failed to get through Parliament.

” it is clear that applicants sitting the new English language test in order to obtain Australian citizenship would need to meet a standard equivalent to that expected of university entrants.”

My parents and I would not have passed that test and more importantly how many of Australian born permanent residents would pass the English test today?  Note that this English language test would not be required by people from the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the US.

Indeed, would Mr Dutton himself pass? It is clear that his notorious contempt for foreigners shines through,  when within cooee of migrants. However, Mr Dutton’s face lights up and really shines when refugees are included in the mix. His contempt knows no boundaries as shown by his treatment of the refugees banned to the hell-holes of Manus and Nauru, now in their forth year of detention. No charges have been laid.

Their hope lies in being accepted by the US, but with Mr D. Trump’s notoriety dealing with foreigners we will see if that will eventuate. In the meantime Dutton keeps on promising the refugees will never set foot on Australian soil even though the majority have gone through the process and been accepted as genuine refugees.

But, going back to the Dutton English language test, some compared it to the “White Australian Policy” from a few decades ago when coloured people were excluded from citizenship.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/citizenship-test-english-language-test-criticised-by-labor/9066530

After all this you might be happy to look at the violas again; or are they violets?

It is never too late!

الثقافية سوف أضع المقالات القليلة القادمة تترجم في بعض من اللغات الرئيسية المنطوقة والمكتوبة في هذا العالم الرائع. سنبدأ باللغة العربية باستخدام طريقة الترجمة من غوغل. لأصدقائنا الناطقين باللغة العربية آمل أن تأتي الترجمة عبر معقولة!

أنا أكثر من سعداء أن محاولة السيدنا للهجرة و (المخاوف كثيرا) حماية الحدود، السيد بيتر دوتون، لجعل صعوبة في أن يصبح المهاجرين المقيمين الدائمين من خلال وضع مهارات اللغة الإنجليزية على مستوى الجامعة فشلت بصدور من خلال الحصول على البرلمان .

“من الواضح أن المتقدمين الذين يجلسون اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية الجديد من أجل الحصول على الجنسية الأسترالية سوف تحتاج إلى تلبية معيار يعادل ما هو متوقع من الوافدين إلى الجامعة”.

والدي وأنا لم يكن قد اجتاز هذا الاختبار، والأهم من ذلك كيف العديد من المقيمين الأستراليين المولودين الدائمين اجتياز اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية اليوم؟ لاحظ أن اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية هذا لن يكون مطلوبا من قبل أشخاص من المملكة المتحدة وأيرلندا وكندا ونيوزيلندا والولايات المتحدة.

في الواقع، هل السيد دوتون نفسه يمر؟ ومن الواضح أن ازدراءه السيء السمعة للأجانب يضيء، عندما يكون داخل كوي المهاجرين. ومع ذلك، يضيء وجه السيد دوتون ويضيء حقا عندما يتم تضمين اللاجئين في هذا المزيج. إن ازدراءه لا يعرف حدودا كما هو مبين في معاملته للاجئين المحظورين في جحيم مانوس وناورو، وهي الآن في السنة الأولى من احتجازهم. ولم توجه اتهامات.

أملهم يكمن في قبولها من قبل الولايات المتحدة، ولكن مع السيد D. ترامب سمعة سيئة التعامل مع الأجانب سنرى ما إذا كان ذلك سوف يبرز. وفي الوقت نفسه، تواصل دوتون الوعد بأن اللاجئين لن يضعوا أقدامهم على الأرض الأسترالية على الرغم من أن الأغلبية قد مرت بهذه العملية وتم قبولها كالجئين حقيقيين.

ولكن، بعد العودة إلى اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية في “دتون”، قارن البعض منها ب “السياسة الأسترالية البيضاء” منذ بضعة عقود عندما تم استبعاد الأشخاص الملونين من الجنسية.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/citizenship-test-english-language-test-criticised-by-labor/9066530

بعد كل هذا قد تكون سعيدا للنظر في الكمان مرة أخرى. أو أنها البنفسج؟

أبدا لم يتأخر

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The art of genuflecting is disappearing

September 15, 2016

41yjSAQeq1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ oosterman treats

When political figures meet they often will shake hands. The recent climate change meeting or COP21 (Conference of Parties) showed endless footage of people facing the camera while shaking hands. I never understood that this has to be filmed. I mean; who thinks that shaking hands is so interesting that they actually want to see a film reportage of it? The Chinese leader was a bit bored by that conventional gesture. He looked as if a lemon had difficulty being accepted. Shaking each others hand and fingers interlocking seems a reasonable thing to do in accepting the other person as an equal. A kind of, let’s be friendly and acknowledge each other. The arms and hands are the logical tools to do that with. One could perhaps use legs and feet, but balancing on one foot would be difficult, especially for the elderly.

There are some cultures that have different methods of greeting. Here and there nose rubbing is normal and the ‘Dab’ amongst the young is also practised. See below.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dab_(dance)

But, the gesture of acknowledging each amongst royalty remains stuck in genuflecting or curtsying. I am not totally sure of this ritual between royals but certainly in strangers or other non-royals we are supposed to do a bit of a dip on one knee and then, if done appropriately, might be given the opportunity to touch the hand of the Royal. It is supposed to be a sign of one standing above the other. I am not sure if I could or even would do this. Apparently, if one is lucky enough to meet a royal, many are urged to practise the art of genuflecting well before. No doubt, one could even do a course in genuflecting, a bit like when I took dancing lessons from Phyllis Bates’ dancing academy back in the late fifties. This was held above a milk bar in Sydney named ‘Spyros.’ At that time a malted milkshake could be bought for one shilling and sixpence. I had to make sure that the book was held between the teacher’s and student’s breast or chest. It is still a much revered achievement that I successfully managed to do that. I remember the title; it was ‘Of Human Bondage.’ Of course, holding a book between a royal’s chest (or breasts) and a ‘common’ while genuflecting would never do.

As for the spat between us and the nasty one; let me just put this one up as a response to a dear follower on my previous piece.

The person we feel is responsible to the threat that we should go and sell up, also has a thing about the Royal Family. When the English Prince Phillip was given a Knighthood by Australia, she fully applauded the move by our previous government. It was such a silly move that the government subsequently lost the election.
We joined in the chorus of most, in condemning and rubbishing the giving of Knighthoods and Dame hoods. However, the nasty neighbour is English and when she holds Court would bore us to death about her regaling the English monarchy to its minute detail. She hinted she actually was the illegitimate fruit of one of the many Prince Phillip’s amorous conquests, supposedly consummated in a swanky address along the Seine in Paris.
We finally had enough and refused to genuflect and told her off. She is silly.

https://www.amazon.com/Oosterman-Treats-Philosophical-Musings-vasectomy/dp/099458105X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473900528&sr=1-1&keywords=oosterman+treats

The greatest form of flattery. A literary ‘must.’

January 31, 2016

IMG_20150713_0001

In Finland 1966

A huge book of almost 800 pages is named; letters to Vera by Vladimir Nabokov edited by Olga Voronina and Brian Boyd. The amount of work that the editors/authors went through is mind boggling. It starts off with a list of Abbreviations and ends with a huge Index. It has a Bibliography and Acknowledgements.

My interest is more what is stated on the first page giving the summary; “without limiting the rights under copyright, and goes on about written permissions and copyright ownership.”

A lot of stuff is now stolen by copying and downloading on the internet without the original makers or creators being acknowledged or paid. However, in my case, please feel free. I would be so happy to get copied.  I claim no rights to any words or sentences. Nabokov died at seventy seven years of age after having written many masterpieces both in Russian and English.

I will be of the same age next year and hopefully will have self-published my first book of  ‘Almost There,-‘memoirs, with dubious and unreliable philosophical musings.’ I am again going through the thousands of words and am now googling formatting. What about a Foreword. Should it have an index of chapters or headings. What about spacing, size of pages or lettering? Should I dedicate it! Do I acknowledge anyone. Be aware of possible libellous statements? It just never ends.

I can perhaps lay claim and copyright to my Leeks and Potato bake. The inclusion of sour cream instead of just plain milk makes it uniquely my recipe. I know that it is mine and Helvi’s favourite, with pancakes and Golden syrup coming in at a close second.  Of course with pancakes comes the use of butter-milk which I know other cooks use as well.

Did you know that in Australia during the fifties and sixties, wives were sometimes introduced as ‘the cook,’ or worse ‘my cook.’ It happened to Helvi once on the farm when someone asked me; where is the cook, meaning Helvi. H did not like it and told the man so, who had referred to her as  ‘the cook.’ He stopped doing it to us, but I bet you he continued it with others. Anyway, feel free to copy the words or recipes.

What is it again that Imitation is the best form of flattery?

The commission for a mural and teaching adults.(Auto- biography).

August 11, 2015

With roughly more than seven decades between the beginning and now, one has to allow for some discrepancies on this heap of memories. The order and dates might not be exact but the events are true. One might also have to allow that the events are somewhat embellished to make them more readable  or perhaps even enjoyable. A French polished table doesn’t make it less or more of a table if presented in raw oak.  The specimen of my life is not any different from the multitudes of other lives. It is also not any more unique in its minutia than those other lives of this world.  I write what I feel was important. But the nature of writing an autobiography  implies a certain amount of egoism. I do it to continue with my life as I have in the past. Keep myself off the street. I enjoy the confessional  part of it, but also realize it is a race against time with the inevitability of those final last words that befalls all of us. The pole vaulting days are over but writing about it makes solid the past. A kind of coagulation of a mishmash of memories rusted onto the years gone by. The words as yet not said do remain ringing.

The school that our daughter went to was about a ten minutes bicycle ride along a sweet little country lane into the small town. She used to come home for lunch and go off again for afternoon lessons. At no stage did we even contemplate that there were dangers of traffic or bad people prowling about. Children getting to school on their own was the norm. At least in The Netherlands. It was idyllic. Even in the country, no distance seemed beyond a ride on a bicycle. No helmets were worn either. All was safe and there were bicycle path separating riders from cars. We had sheep, chickens and a pregnant Shetland pony. What could one ask for more?

One winter morning there was a furious tapping on our bedroom window. Our bedroom was at the front of the farm overlooking the meadow in which the sheep and pony grazed. It was our neighbour. He was a serious farmer unlike us. “You have a foal, Gerard.”   “Get up and hang the afterbirth” he said. Of course it wasn’t in those words. The dialect in the area we lived in was as unlike Dutch as Scottish is from English, or Welsh from Irish. Is there some unwritten law that men respond to tapping on bedroom windows and not the female? In any case, it had snowed outside and our bed was warm. Even so, I did admire and liked our neighbour’s care for our pony. He had already told us it looked she might un-pack at any moment. I got out of bed and went outside just wearing slippers and a morning coat. Indeed there was this lovely little foal barely able to stand up and take its first suckle.

Sorry for the B/W picture only. It was a triptych painted in acrylic..

I don’t know why an afterbirth had to be hung up from a tree away from ground hugging predators such a  canny fox or, indeed a wolf or bear. It was a tradition steeped in folklore and we apparently had chosen our farm in a village that were the harbingers and last owners of some very ancient habits which must not be disregarded.  We, after all were living here as strangers and really almost imposters more than traditional owners and had to tread carefully with respect to keeping their traditions. I stumbled about found the afterbirth and flung it over the large elm next to the farm house. Both mother and baby Shetland were doing fine. Our neighbours were happy too.

Those first two years of hard Yakka.

May 15, 2015
Fibro garage. Our first 'temporary' home.

Fibro garage. Our first ‘temporary’ home.

The above photo taken after moving in own first home. Brother John (deceased) at front, mum and dad with glasses together (single bed), sister Dora on floor.  Smiling Frank on top right and Herman and Adrian on left top and bottom right. The mattress at front was ‘temporary’ vacated by me taking the picture.

The garage was 8 by 4 metres.

The move from the old house to our own block of land with garage (Temporary Dwelling) was achieved after much searching by my mother scanning the  ‘Blocks of Land” for sale in Newspapers. Enough money had been saved and even though my Mum’s English was very poor, that was no hindrance. She would just speak Dutch with a few English sounding vowels thrown in. Through week-end meetings with other migrants, the fever of achieving this first goal had bedded down. Inquiries of deposits and how getting a loan was made ‘easy’ by building societies was now well understood by our mother. Estate agents were taken on who would drive her around to the different blocks for sale and her appraisal. She would be quick to measure distance to nearest railway station and distance from the city. The closest to city and station, the more desirable and also more costly.

Sydney already then was spread out over an area almost the size of Holland and with everyone feverishly seeking own house on own block it doesn’t take a genius to understand why suburbia reigns in Australian cities like nowhere else. Ownership of a car then becomes as essential as sleeping on a mattress. Selling blocks of land and cars was a main ingredient and driving force for a future prosperous Australia. It still is.

We were totally swept into having to buy/build our house after arriving in Australia. To be able for most to achieve this, housing was made from as cheap a material as possible, hence the thin sheeting to  clad the houses both inside and outside making them not much more than windbreaks. The asbestos cement sheeting was at the forefront of  those cheap building materials. It had and still has dire consequences. In Australia there are hundreds of thousands of ageing homes clad with that material.

https://oosterman.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/fibro-asbestos-homes-a-ticking-time-bomb/

The day of moving in our first dwelling is still etched into my mind like nothing else (apart from my first juvenile experiences of ‘ female bush and breasts). All our belongings were piled on a truck with driver. They must have been hired for the day. It was much more than we thought. The four steel trunks, all our bedding and washing machine, the ice box and six children’s clothes and bits and pieces that we had acquired during the six months or so we had stayed with our friends.  All were piled on the truck including Dad who had to try and prevent our belongings from getting blown off during the trip to our new place. He was spreadeagled on top of the truck with  arms and legs flailing trying to keep all on the truck. The truck drove off and I can still see my dad thrashing about on his back.

We moved in and mum and dad must have been busy to prepare all the bedding. Us kids were so proud and would walk backwards and forwards over the own block of land like eighteenth century barons inspecting a newly inherited farm in Bavaria. There were no more rats, no three legged dogs and we were on our own. Dad had even survived the trip on the back of the truck.

Four Weddings and a Funeral with Tony Abbott

February 7, 2015
Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott

When our PM reinstated the Dame/Knighthood institution a couple of years ago he sealed his fate. The first of those award was given to our Governor General, Quentin Bryce who gracefully accepted it but also confessed to being a staunch republican. It looked all a bit funny then. Now, a year later and few weeks ago it was Prince Philip who received it. I don’t know if he is a republican but most would hardly see him as an Australian who did a lot for Australia. Not so, according to Tony Abbott. He is all nationalities, Danish,Greek, Australian, even English and has many, many others. He’s done a lot for Australia, including asking if aboriginals still throw spears at each other. Mr Abbott made this strange decision on his own without anyone ,not even his cabinet, knowing about it. The nation was stunned.

The voters did not see the good Prince as an Aussie and now, Abbott’s party, is going to sack him with the largest turn around in political history. About two out of three now wants Labor returned. The Knighthood cannot now be undone or taken away, but many are convinced Tony Abbott’s days are numbered.

In any case; interesting times ahead. Enjoy this video.

Waste not want not. Just eat your lumpy Porridge.

November 5, 2014
 Some time back

Some time back

I was abused from an early age by having to eat lumpy porridge. It has left its mark and no psychologist or therapist has given me any insight into how this continues to shape me into the present dysfunctional personae, still grappling with life so fraught with fits of uncertainty as to its real meaning or purpose.(Phew)

The weeks just prior and after the end of WW 2, Holland was on its knees. Oats, Biscuits and Spam was fought over by people running towards the US, Canadian and English Lancaster bombers overhead, dropping food parcels. I remember my dad running on a field towards one and bringing home a huge metal box with rock hard but very nutritious English biscuits. The sky was dark with food being parachuted , raining down on Rotterdam. How glorious a liberation it was! Dancing in the streets.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_Manna_and_Chowhound

untitled food at last

Despite the biscuits saving us from starvation, I still remember being very churlish about having to eat porridge with lumps and preferred the biscuits soaked in water. It was years later, when ‘easy oats’ came into being that could be cooked with milk without resulting in uneatable lumps. The porridge cooked by my mum then became silky smooth and with the Golden Syrup was delicious, a real delectable food. Even so, I have hardly touched porridge ever since. The lumps left their mark. That’s what a war does to you.

Walking around, pondering and practising a pensive thought or two is now a well earned pastime in advancing years together with offering adages and words probably so wasted on the much better informed. Together with Helvi and Milo, I traipse through our town forever hoping to find solutions to life and purpose. How this can be found by walking with a dog, hand-scooping his toilet habits in plastic bags, and drinking a latte in between is questionable but probably as good as studying Plato or taking Prozac.

images Food drops

But going back to lumpy porridge and hunger, we are surprised how much food can now be found just on the streets and parks. A half eaten hamburger here, bags of chips there. I sometimes, much to the horror of Helvi, lift a lid on public rubbish bins to see what has been discarded, much the same as I am curious about peoples washings on the line. Don’t ask, why? There is no hope. There is so much that can be gleaned from washing lines. Is the husband an office worker or tradesman? Are there children? How lithe and slim (or large) are they? What are the favourite colours etc. (Even that little joy is getting less with so many now lazy and using a cloth-drier).

But for discarded food…Only last week an entire ‘meat lover’s’ pizza in its specially designed aerated box was thrown out in the bin. Half full drink bottles, chips, steaks, even calamari rings, all gets thrown out.

It is nice to know that if ever I became destitute and homeless, food will not be a problem. I could probably make a living as well from sitting near a supermarket with Milo at my side, a cap with a few coins next to him and holding up a sign. “Help, I have still not found the purpose of life.”

There is hope where there is life!

And the Words we use.

May 18, 2014

href=”https://oosterman.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/imagesamsterdam.jpg”>Amsterdam Amsterdam[/caption]

When H and I met almost some five decades ago we had no language in common. Of course mere words are superfluous when love is there and the eyes have it all. H had studied German and Swedish at the Finnish university in Jyväskylä but not English, while I had studied nothing. In those early (and many if not most following) days, engaging with just few words was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Ever since we got hooked, we kept in close contact. 😉

Language is a strange beast. I was fifteen when leaving Holland and yet, my dreams are still in Dutch. I also still cannot follow the English way of spelling. Spell me a word phonetically and I get it immediately. Spell a word in the non-phonetics of the Anglo world and I am totally bewildered and lost. The same with adding and subtraction. I have to do it in the Dutch numbers language still. Is there any hope of losing my skeleton of Dutch language? Cutting the umbilical cord of mother’s tongue seems to take a long time. Even though writing or talking in English by mentally translating Dutch ceased a very long time ago, I have yet to feel that I have successfully migrated to the other side of now owning the English lingo.

There are many sayings that I cannot translate back in Dutch as well. English sayings such as; ‘let’s do lunch,’ ‘give us a call,’ ‘see you later, he/she is such a lovely person,’ are sayings that are not used in the Dutch language. Of course approximate words can and will suffice.

This brings into focus what I feel like. Do I feel Australian or am I still feeling very much Dutch burger? Sorry for this exercise in navel gazing but it does sometimes well up on what one’s cultural ties actually mean or pen out to. In my dreams, mainly nightmares, which probably are tied to bladder urgency, I always am in a muddy bombed out scene but can see Amsterdam clearly in the distance. No matter how I struggle, I can never really get close to it. The mud is treacherous and opens up at each step. Yet I can see Amsterdam’s ‘Westertoren’ in the distance. I am always almost there but never reach the city.

The dilemma is also in the use of thought words. When they float by on the rivers of languages, they are sometimes in Dutch or English and often both. Even Finnish, German words float by. Is it part of knowing words away from one’s only known mother tongue? Most people are born with and take on just one language. It is enough to get by with.

Strange that the city is always Amsterdam. I know the city well but have only lived there for a short while. I was hoping that the nightmares would by now have morphed into Sydney or Bowral.

What does one have to do to obtain those?

All On Board for five Weeks

May 27, 2012

The English bachelors were less forthcoming and seemed more at ease pondering uncertain futures by themselves, perhaps with a beer or two.

The Dutch, of which there were hundreds on that boat, were endlessly counting suitcases, heavy metal strapped trunks and forever pestering the stewards for access to the holds deep down in the bowels of the ship where enormous engines were thundering and roaring towards Australia, to re-check everything, just in case. Their humble possessions would be spread out on decks and inventories were written and re-written by the fathers and mothers. Huge numbers of parental progeny were stalking other kids along endless cream painted steel corridors and getting into checking out friendships or fights.

With spare money earned by delivering flower arrangements and vegetables to Embassies in The Hague, prior to departure, I was keenly betting on the ship’s sweepstake. This is a guessing competition between zero and number nine in the final tally of miles that the boat had covered in the previous twenty four hours, last numbers only. I was amazingly lucky, and it supplied me with enough money for reckless spending on cordials and for paying the on board photo developing. I had an Agfa Clack camera, also earned from those Embassy deliveries, with which I recorded our voyage.

The differences of those goodbyes from family and country between the English, Dutch and Southern Italians were startling and made me realize how difficult it must have been for all of them. Did the English finally end up sobbing as well, perhaps late at night, muffled and under blankets and alcohol? Or did they care less about family and friends than the Italians and Greeks. My dad cried leaving his brothers, sisters, and his parents, and so finally too. He never saw them again. We, kids and mum would have a family sobbing every now and then, and over many years.