When someone tries to explain the history of the Netherlands to a person who isn't Dutch and wasn't born in the Netherlands and who doesn't speak the Dutch language, let alone the language the history was written in, then there are a number of things that can go wrong, which will lead to a false conclusion or wrong perception of the Netherlands and its history. In this foreword I want to make you aware of this.

Translation Errors
The first problem and probably the biggest problem are errors in the translation, where the reader mistakes the meaning of a word or sentence for something else, or the writer mistranslated a word or sentence. Sometimes this mistake doesn't even have to be a clear mistake, but can be a very subtle mistake that will lead to some misconceptions later on. I try to eliminate any errors in the text, but despite my efforts I'm quite sure there are some syntax errors and spelling errors left in the text.

There is this Dutch political joke that can be used as a good example, of what kind of mistakes can be made with an improper translation, if either one doesn't speak or doesn't write Dutch, or vice versa when one is unable to translate Dutch into another language. A few decades ago, the now former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, who is nowadays working for the United Nations, was poked fun off in some jokes about him and his poor understanding and pronounciation of English. This is one of the jokes:

Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers is on a flight from New York to Schiphol airport when he is seated next to an American on a business trip to Amsterdam. The American businessman recognises him as the Prime Minister of the Netherlands and asks Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers if he has any hobbies besides his work as a politician. Ruud Lubbers replies: "yes I do, I fok (pronounced as fock or fuck) horses."

What he should have said of course is: "I breed horses", the English verb "to breed" is translated into Dutch as "fokken".

Cultural Differences
The second common problem is down to cultural differences between the reader and the writer. When people try to explain things, they often put the situation, they try to explain in their own cultural context. People seek connections between pieces of information, so that they can better understand the meaning and explain where things are coming from. This works fine as long as the culture of the reader is the same as the culture of the writer, but when it isn't, it can lead to some false assumptions.

For example an African tribal leader asked to an English colonial how many people died in worldwar 1 and how many members of the German tribe the English killed. When the Englishman replied several million, the African chieftain assumed the English to be an incredibly wealthy tribe, as it was customary in his culture to give cattle as a means of compensation for the killing or slaying of a man of another tribe. Of course the English have no such custom, nor do the Germans. Though England is indeed a wealthy nation, the English and the Germans certainly did not haul millions of livestock across the Northsea after WW1, as a form of compensation for the losses in WW1.

Historical Changes
Another common mistake people make when they deal with history is that they reason the situation presented in the story in the modern terms they know today. Customs and traditions and even things like fashion have a tendency to change over the years. So if we reason something that happened centuries ago according to today's customs, then we are making a mistake in that we are transforming the original meaning of an historical act.

For example one of the Dutch founding-fathers of the fatherland, is William of Orange. Once it dawns on the reader that William, a nobleman who originated from an area in what is nowadays modern Germany, was murdered by a Catholic zealot and that he spoke some famous last words before he died, then some people might mistakenly reason that the last words he spoke were in German or Dutch, while in reality the words were spoken in French. This is because back then it was customary for noblemen to speak French in those days. If you don't know this, then you can make some false assumptions.

Personal Biases
Both the reader and the writer may have their own personal biases, that may result in some wrong assumptions, or even rejection of something that may be written in this history. I do not intend that the reading of this history will make people change their minds about the Netherlands and the Dutch people. Readers can believe whatever they want, what I do however want the reader to be aware of, is that not everything is what it seems. Whether that leads to someone rejecting their own biases I don't know, however one should be aware, that both the reader or the writer can be wrong sometimes. I'm quite aware that a nazi symphatiser might look at the occupation of the Netherlands in a whole different light, and likewise I'm aware that a devout and deeply religious christian might reject the views presented in the paragraph on the swinging sixties, and I'm equally quite certain that a communist symphatiser doesn't agree with the view presented in the paragraph on the fall of the Berlin wall. Whether one agrees or not with the things presented, is not my concern, this is just how I chose to present the history of the Netherlands and nothing more than that.

Cognitive Errors
People can also mistake what is being said, even if the translation is a proper one. This may be a simple mistake that can be caused due to stress or fatigue, or more serious, where a reader fails to comprehend something like figurative speech.

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