Friday, January 22, 2016

Vriendschap is….

It’s a challenge, sometimes, to go from translation to meaning outside one’s native language and culture.

A friend posted a list of words today on Facebook:

bereikrijk....binnenvoelbaar....luistergevig......oplosselijk...........verrasvast......verwenzaam........teruglustig.....

I recognize a couple of root words, but not the compounds.  Still, the first level of meaning comes from simply understanding the words.

Range rich .... in felt … listen-gevig … solving-corpse … surprisingly solid … weathered helpful … back merrily ….

Sometimess, then, it only makes sense when I think about meaning rather than vocabulary,  I typed the whole list into Google, which yielded a presentation from Nyenrode Business University:

Vriendschap is

These begin to make some sense: maxims that express what it means to be a good friend.  Paraphrasing what I recognize (with the help of a Dutch dictionary):

The ability to receive everyone with open arms.
The ability to be heartwarming.
The ability to pay sincere attention.
The ability to solve every problem.
The ability to exceed expectations.
The ability to capture hearts.
The ability to be a good friend.

What is the context?  The 137 slides are part of a business presentation titled Vriendschap is….  beginning:

Vriendschap is … (idealiter) …     Friendship is ... (ideally) …

Welwillend zijn ten opzichte van elkaar 

Sympathetic to one another

Voor elkaar het goede wensen   

Wish one another well

Dat van elkaar weten,

   They know each other

En dat doen omwille van het goede, het aangename en/of het nuttige 

And do that because it is good, pleasant, and / or useful

So, more clear, but why?  The slides are part of an MBA program called the Theater van de Vriendschap, described as:

'Wat een zegeningen biedt vriendschap! Stel dat je uit de samenleving de spontane hulpvaardigheid wegneemt. Er zou geen huis, geen stad meer bestaan, zelfs het land zou niet meer bewerkt worden. Is het misschien moeilijk te begrijpen hoe groot de invloed is van vriendschap en eensgezindheid, probeer er dan begrip voor te krijgen uit het tegengestelde: onenigheid en tweedracht. Geen familie, geen stadsvolk heeft zo'n stevige grondslag of ze kunnen door haat en ruzie te gronde gaan. Daaruit valt in te zien wat een groot goed eensgezindheid is'

Tijdens het Theater van de vriendschap gaan we op zoek naar manieren om op eigentijdse wijze deze diepe inzichten van oude filosofen te realiseren.

"What a blessing friendship is! Suppose you remove the spontaneous helpfulness from society. There would be no house, a community (town) could no longer exist , even the country would no longer be put together. It might be hard to understand how great the influence of friendship and unity is, so perhaps try to gain understanding from the opposite: disagreement and discord. No family, no city of people can have a solid basis if they are ruined by hatred and strife. It is not hard to see what a great good consensus is'

During the Theatre of the friendship we search for ways to demonstrate these deep insights of ancient philosophers in a contemporary way.

And so it goes, an expat among the Dutch.  Start with vocabulary, up to meaning, finally to context.  And, sometimes, with luck, I might even get to Understanding.

Of couse, in this case, I still have no clue why my friend posted the words in isolation on Facebook…

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