25 February 2014

I Heart Holland: Reason #15 - "The Netherlands" Is Not "Holland"

We've lived in the Netherlands for a year and a half now. We've learned some of the language, the culture, and the history. And the idea of "Holland" is one thing that touches on each of these things.

Holland and The Netherlands are not the same thing. Many outside of the Netherlands refer to the whole European country as "Holland" but in actuality Holland applies only to the provinces of North Holland and South Holland located on the western coast. I suspect part of the reason is due to unfamiliarity with the nation's history, geography, and political organization and the other part is that the word "Holland" seems to roll of the tongue better than "The Netherlands" (at least for English and French speakers) - though this wouldn't be an issue if we used "Nederland" (which does roll off nicely) but not pronouncing a country's name in it's own language is a rant for another time.

Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but I was able to figure out the distinction between Holland and The Netherlands pretty soon after our moving here. I love the complexity of the idea but I also know that the distinction isn't well known. A friend recently shared this video with me, so I am passing it along to you. It's a wonderful and quick explanation of the difference between "Holland" and "The Netherlands." So, watch, enjoy, and then go impress someone with your new-found knowledge.




Have you ever lived someplace where a common name for the town/city/region is not actually the name at all?

*I do call this series "I Heart Holland" - but the choice came from to my love of alliteration and an inflated sense of wittiness, and I noticed that many native Dutch will refer to the country as "Holland" when speaking to English speakers - because they know that we don't know any better. This may actually contribute to the confusion, but this little post will hopefully combat that. Remember: Knowledge is power.

10 comments:

  1. This is excellent! I blame the US public school system for spreading this one. I have no idea why we have to memorize all 50 states and capitals, but almost never cover this kind of stuff! It's now a pet peeve of mine, ranking up there with people who say "We'll come up to see you soon!" but actually live north of us. Perhaps I shall share this video...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was aware of the distinction before moving here, but didn't think much of it until I started living here and soon became a stickler for saying I live in the Netherlands, not Holland, since I don't technically live in either of the Holland provinces. Before learning a bit more about the country before we moved, I had generally thought of Holland and Netherlands as interchangeable. The sad part has been coming across so many people who don't realize Netherlands and Holland refer to the same country; even worse are the ones who seem completely oblivious to the Netherlands at all. I had way to many conversations in the US where people would look at me blankly when I said I was moving to the Netherlands, but would finally understand if I said Holland.

    Sadly, lots of countries are just as bad about it. The UK tends to predominantly refer to the country as Holland, and in Italian, they call it Olanda. But yeah, the Dutch don't help matters with all the Hup Holland Hup. ;) Then there's the multiple capital cities of Den Haag and Amsterdam ... yeah, no wonder people get confused!

    ReplyDelete
  3. After living in Sweden for almost three years I sometimes get confused with the English word and Swedish word for countries as it is so confusing but in my head I do think Nederland for The Netherlands! Also after living so close to Denmark I get so annoyed when people confuse Dutch and Danish!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I do think that the knowing the states and capitals is important (I taught it, haha), but our understanding of global geography and politics is pretty miserable and could and should be taught better.
    Being a fellow MA person, did you ever hear the people that would "go down Maine?" lol - I still don't get it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm with you - it didn't matter as much to me until I landed here, but now I'm a stickler for it (series title excluded ;) ). There's a lot of that subtle information that no one seems to learn outside of NL which just doesn't help.
    AND all the tourist junk all says "Holland" on it, which doesn't help either!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, I agree 100% and have heard the Maine comment, sadly. Oh man, it drives me crazy! It's not like they don't realize they're taking 93/95 north, so why the confusion? I rarely express this annoyance with anyone but my husband but man, I can't help but think anyone heading "down" to Maine from MA missed some crucial days in third grade.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think "Nederland" sounds cooler, anyways, haha. But I agree, it's hard figuring out different countries in different languages - even moreso that just regular vocabulary!
    And there's no reason to confuse Dutch and Danish - two totally different cultures and languages! =)

    ReplyDelete
  8. hahaha, you have no idea how happy that makes me, since I think the same thing. Maybe we should make an educational YouTube video for that, too.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I lived on the Big Island of Hawaii, which is technically called Hawaii, like the state itself. And also the county. But the capital of Hawaii is on Oahu, a totally different and way smaller island. People would come visit the Big Island and want to go to Pearl Harbor or Waikiki. Nope, wrong island.

    ReplyDelete
  10. :) It's in the state of Hawaii, yes. Just not on the island of. But on the same hand, my husband has tried to explain the difference between the Netherlands and Holland to me- it wasn't until the whole Dakota vs. US thing in that video that it made sense!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...