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Word of the Day: verrekijker (binoculars)

This week it’s DE BOEKENWEEK, the national book week. A very succesful campaign to promote HET BOEK. It was started in the 1930’s in the Netherlands and is still going strong. Each year an author of name and fame is asked to write HET BOEKENWEEKGESCHENK, the book week gift. This year’s author is Hague born author and comedian Kees van Kooten (1941).


His short novel is a witty search for the story behind his father’s binoculars. He goes back to the years of the Second World War when the author was a child. But the book is also an examination of other matters, such as modern media, the paper book and the e-book, handwriting, pornification of society and much much more. DE VERREKIJKER, is a metaphor for Van Kooten’s way of seeing the world.

VERREKIJKER (/vεrəkεikər/) is a magnificent Dutch word and not only because it magnifies the world. When he was a kid, Kees van Kooten called the magical instrument VERDERKIJKER. A logical mistake because it allowed him ‘to look far away’.

The VERREKIJKER was invented in Middelburg by Hans Lippershey in 1608. Within a year Galileo improved the Dutch invention and manufactured his own telescopes with which he made startling astronomic discoveries. The word TELESCOOP, by the way, is from Greek ‘tèle’ (far) and ‘skopeō’ [I look]: IK KIJK VER.

Learners of Dutch! Don’t let this opportunity go by. Buy a book of 15 Euro or more and receive Van Kooten’s DE VERREKIJKER. The novel will allow you free travel on all Dutch trains (except Thalys) on Sunday 24th March. Be quick you only have this Saturday and Sunday.

When you’re in the bookshop don’t forget to buy HET BOEKENWEEKESSAY, ‘De leeuw en zijn hemd’ (The lion and his shirt) for Euro 2.50. This year’s essay is written by novelist and historian Nelleke Noordervliet and it is a study of the Dutch struggle with the golden years of yore and the black pages in history. Interesting stuff and ever so good for your study of the Dutch language and culture!

Travel to Groningen and back for free on Sunday, relax, bring your VERREKIJKER and watch the cows and sheep in the fields, read these books and talk *in Dutch!* to your fellow travellers about these books.