Monday, August 14, 2006

It’s not Holland

Some people get a little upset when you refer to The Netherlands as Holland. You can understand this. Holland is actually only a small part of the Netherlands - the over-populated bit that contains Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. It's a bit like calling France Normandy or Germany Bavaria.

It's rarely the Dutch who get upset, actually; it's more likely to be pedantic foreigners. These people ignore two things:
1) The Dutch themselves often use Holland to mean their country as well because they are practical people and in many other countries that's what people think the country is called. Check out the back of the Dutch national football team's shirts. It says “Holland.” If the Dutch were going to get annoyed about any international reference to them, it is more likely to be to the word Dutch, which owes its origins to those of the word Deutsch.
2) The Dutch too are guilty of this sort of thing. They often refer to "Engeland" when they mean The United Kingdom. This is just the kind of thing which annoys the Welsh and Scots, so I am now wondering if those who complain the most about this are Welsh or Scottish. I will do a survey and put the results back up here.

And another thing. Why is it called The United Kingdom when they all seem to hate each other? I guess "United" means a group of things that are forced together yet don't really get on all that well. Like the "United" in The Former USSR and in United States. Hmmm.

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