In the Netherlands, people often introduce themselves with just their first names. Yet they seem to be unusually reluctant to write first names in full – the most commonly seen form in professional settings is the initial(s) of the first name(s) together with the full last name, such as H. Vossen or C.J.B. Jansen. When filling in your personal details on a form, you are not usually asked for your voornamen, but only for your voorletters. A measure against gender discrimination? In any case, as N. once observed, it leads to situations where you meet someone at an event, later get a list of participants but have no chance of finding him or her back because the only thing you know – the first name – does not appear on the list. And don’t think any of the initials will be the actual initial of the first name you heard: that is often a short form, e.g. Lex or Sander corresponds to the initial A – for Alexander.
The ability of the Dutch population to communicate in English is among the highest in Europe. Of course, Dutch English has its own characteristics. For example, the Dutch language has some terms that seem like internationalisms to many Dutch speakers, so they assume they will be understood in English as well. For example, they divide university subjects into the alfa branch (humanities), the beta branch (STEM) and the gamma branch (social sciences). Another example is the word horeca which is an abbreviation of hotel, restaurant, café and commonly used in Dutch when speaking about the catering industry. Another pet observation of mine: Dutch speakers tend to overuse the static passive in English (where it’s uncommon), e.g. the game is chosen instead of the game has been chosen or the game was chosen. This seems to be due to the fact that a form of zijn (“to be”) plus past participle is in Dutch the most common form to express the passive in the past: het spel is gekozen, even in situations where e.g. German would avoid the corresponding form, which would be classified as static passive. May we thus say that Dutch has a static passive and uses it a lot? Or should we say that the passive auxiliary geworden is usually dropped in the perfect tense?
As a final interesting piece of information, note that precipitation is so unpredictable here that people have little use for your traditional weather forecast. Rather, you use a live satellite cloud map in order to wedge your bicycle ride home from work into the gap between two showers.