#636 – Fluent

I’ve never been out of the country so I have to imagine what it’s like by going to places like Chinatown or Holland Michigan. I went to Holland a few times back when I lived in Grand Rapids. Saw the tulip festival and hung out on the lake. It’s interesting to be on a lake that fills your field of view like that and becomes indistinguishable from the ocean.


55 thoughts on “#636 – Fluent”

  1. Sammie says:

    Damn that’s pretty brilliant.

  2. Helcat says:

    I wonder if he realizes he is going to learn German, not what the Dutch actually speaks.

  3. AcolyteBreath says:

    Deutsch is German, I think you’re thinking Dutch

  4. Heh. I live in Simcoe County, Ontario, and I have relatives near Niagara Falls, so seeing the great lakes is something fairly normal for me. It was the salt water and the intellectual knowledge of how much further the far shore was that really got me when I went to California as a kid once.

  5. Qedhup says:

    Deutsch is the german language. Nederlands is the name of the Dutch language.

  6. Talon Lardner says:

    Wow, that’s quite the surprise seeing my hometown mentioned! I marched in their Tulip Time Parade for 7 years straight, those were good times.

  7. MadDavid says:

    Wearing strange things to “school” week. His hat looks a bit Quixotic, though.

    Btw, you should make it a fundamental requirement for your advertisers that their ads not cause IE to lock up. (OK, I know that’s unrealistic. Maybe they should cause IE to lock up no more than 1/3rd of the time.)

  8. Michael Chandra says:

    Not sure if it was intentional, if not: Dutch/Nederlands is our language (Netherlands, Holland originally was 1 of the substates and now is 2 of ’em), German/Deutsch is the german language.

  9. Mikoangelo says:

    Don’t you mean Dutch? Deutsch is German for German.

  10. Shelly says:

    Ah, culture week.

  11. Arisa says:

    Germany is the country of windmills? I always thought that was Holland

  12. deutsch?? Thats not even a word. Deutsch sounds like a very old language spoken here in the middle ages, called Diets.
    My guess: you made a typo 🙂
    Before you ask: yes I am a dutch woman.

  13. While the joke is lost on me, I’m laughing at the sheer silliness of the picture anyway. Way to save the comic. 🙂

  14. Trevor says:

    Shelly beat me to it.

  15. Darminion says:

    Like others have pointed out, I’m sure you meant ‘Dutch’. 😛

    Though hurrah for referring to the Netherlands!

  16. Diran-Kun says:

    Dutch, Deutsch, guys – that’s the joke.

    Biff is learning German (Deutsch), but because of the similarity of the two terms, he gets confused and ends up wearing “Dutch fancy-dress” or whatever you would call it, and doesn’t realise that it doesn’t relate to the class.

  17. SEA says:

    Nice hat ^_^

  18. Fred says:

    @Linda van Vliet: Mikoangelo is right. Deutsch is the German word for German(language, people, etc). It can also be used in English for “German language”. In other languages no. E.g.: When talking Spanish, one uses “alemán” for German language, people and such, and “Alemania” for germany. “Germania” for Germany and “germano” for German is a very arcane (but valid) form, but rarely used.
    And Diets, Dutch and Deutsch have a common root a couple millennia ago.
    *Note: In Spanish, only proper nouns are written with an initial capital.

    Take care 🙂

  19. Fred says:

    @Mikoangelo: I think that is exactly the point XD

    Sorry for the double post

  20. Kurast says:

    A mi me gusta alemán, y tú?

    I speaks the spanish. Can i has hamburger now?

    Alos, @Project Dark Fox: The Dutch and German Countrysides are lined with the old style windmills and farms. It’s a week joke overall, but if you understood it at the start you’d giggle.

  21. Wierd and Wired clothing week.

  22. speearr says:

    Deutsch (german) is not a fun language to learn…….. They have genders for everything.

  23. William Syler says:

    @Speearr: So does French……ugh
    But yes. The whole joke is based on the similarity between the words Deutsch and Dutch. Diran-Kun got it right.
    Good times. French jokes tomorrow! (I wish)

  24. Chris says:

    @speearr agreed, Deutsch is difficult, they have some damn long words as well as ridiculous tenses. Trying learning Chinese though, there isn’t an alphabet, you’ve got to draw a little picture for every word

  25. Mike says:

    Looks like they still have the festival. Haven’t been there since I was a kid, though…

  26. MaskedMan says:

    Holland, MI. Heh! One of my in-laws is the curator of the museum there, and his family runs a B&B, the next town over.

    Cultural week? More like “Not-quite-right culture week.”

  27. MaskedMan says:

    Oh, and yeah – The adverts are killing IE – Change advertisers, ot tell them to get their act straight!

  28. Ian says:

    I don’t know…I have always heard that english is a very hard language to learn, if it’s not your first language. With all our subtelties…like silent b’s! And our too,to,two crap. And alot of the times we have gender for everything, “She’s a nice car”, although that is slang, that is another reason why our language is hard. You don’t really notice these things until you look at your own language and go WTF?

    My friedn once told me, that in french if the object sounds femminine use elle, petite, and all the other female notation. But enough of that, Biff is just being biff again, mistaking one thing for another and endding up embarrasing himself. Does biff ever feel embarassment for his ideas that dont work…but then again does biff even feel anything?Hmm….

  29. Myrthe. says:

    English is bloody easy! But that’s mostly because it’s everywhere, I’m a native Dutchie (Yes! Another one! Also with van Vliet as surname, even!) and I’ve been near-fluent in English since I was 10 or so. German is more difficult, though manageable, but French and Latin are the worst…

  30. Michael Hoffmann says:

    Either a really clever wordplay or just a misunderstanding.
    Don’t get me started with learning languages. I grew up learning English, German and Bahasar (I was born in Indonesia) and when I ended up moving to Germany, I had to learn French and Spanish at the same time. Confusing as hell. My teacher would tell me that it was correct, but that I just threw in some random French/Spanish words.

  31. Chris says:

    Just in case a few more people think it’s a typo, Diran-Kun has my intended meaning correct. 🙂

  32. hyshinara says:

    yay, nederland in een bekende comic!
    (yay, the netherlands in a famous comic!)
    ok, the dutch had their turn, now the belgians XD
    make Biff hold french fries, brussels spouts and make him hop around like Dr Zoidberg *whoopwhoopwhoopwhoop*

    also, Diran-Kun is right, i think ;D

  33. English really isn’t that hard, it is just darn illogical. Swedish is more difficult, especially when written. I’ve know Swedish since I was 3. I started studying English in school when I was 12.
    Yet English is my main subject in the university and Swedish is the one that leaves me wondering not if I did something wrong, but what I did wrong.
    Finnish on the other hand is much easier than its reputation would have you believe. There are No Genders, even the third person singular (he / she) is one word. We have only ONE irregular verb, and that is “olla”, which means “to be”.
    The spelling is always the same for the same sounds. And the famous 15 different word forms are very straightforward and logical and correspond to most of the functions of the English prepositions.
    It’s fairly easy to start studying Finnish on your own. There are even ‘learn Finnish’ videos on YouTube that teach the Finnish alphabet and basic words like colours, numbers, vegetables, animals, tools, etc. There are some decent online dictionaries, especially my favourite, FinnPlace Online dictionary (I’ll put the link into the ‘website’ field, in case someone is interested).

  34. SoA kruup says:

    Linda, deutsch is duits voor… duits. de grap is dat ie dacht dat deutsch nederlands voor dutch was en dat ie voorbereide op een lesje nederlands. Leuk om een andere Nederlander te vinden hier^^ een ex medewerker heette van der vliet.

  35. randomperson says:

    Wouldn’t his eyebrows get tangled in his hat if it was a windy day?

  36. @Kurast: That makes a lot of sense, thanks. 🙂

  37. FadingSwordsman says:

    @Chris: Agreed, but in Chinese there aren’t any verb tenses. For past or future you just add another word. And according to my sister (Who studied in China for a year) Learning the symbols isn’t too bad because they have a pattern…

    And I found that learning German’s pretty easy in comparison to most languages. It’s just so darn logical.

  38. TCF says:

    Thank you for clearing that up Chris.

    I kept thinking it was a typo,
    but now it makes more sense.

  39. Night Mare says:

    Wow. Wish that happend in my German class. (there was that time the teacher dressed up as a milkmaid, though…)

  40. Speakerblast says:

    Ah, I see Biff remembered his eco friendly wind powered brain engine

  41. Libraman says:

    Say beekiller, I assume you most of the Scandinavian language, do you have any idea on the difficulty of Norwegian language?

  42. no name says:

    Umm isn’t Deutsch German? Pronounced more like Doige?

  43. TheMusicGuy says:

    Ha ha…I can’t believe so many people didn’t get the Dutch/Deutsch thing. The fact that so many people thought it was a typo or something is almost funnier than the joke itself. 😀 (No offense to those people, of course!)

  44. William Syler says:

    True, TheMusicGuy. It is almost funnier

  45. Boilman says:

    Hey, my native country got a reference. Yay!

    Oh, and good that you went to the tulip festival and everything, Chris. It’s the only thing interesting for tourists, snce the rest is mostly boring and much of the same.

    …I hate people who think the Netherlands are full off tulips, windmills and cows.
    Bloody Americans, all living in skyscrapers going around wearing guns and baseballcaps going to MacDonalds all day *Grumble grumble*

  46. James says:

    Misunderstood languages week is my guess. Also, first time poster, long time reader. I’ve read every 636 comics.

    Go Chris!

  47. Mophtran says:


  48. KickAssDuke says:

    Yeah. Maybe but you cannot write it!

  49. TheMusicGuy says:

    William Syler: Yes, because neither “almost as funny” nor “funnier” were specific enough to describe exactly how funny it was. ^_^

  50. Foxhound2 says:

    I like Biff’s outfit.@Chris great job, keep doing the good work!!!

  51. Night Mare says:

    I put this strip on my locker at school and someone stole it!

  52. Radical Edward says:

    I know German and I’ve read Dutch and there are similarities but not much. Guess Biff didn’t get the message…

  53. xoyv says:

    i notice no one has posted this yet, so i will :P.

    Tiptoe through the window
    By the window, that is where I’ll be
    Come tiptoe through the tulips with me

  54. Anne says:

    Dutch and German are not the same language. I am German and know what I’m talking about, because I heardly understand when dutch people are talking. Maybe while reading I can recognize some words but not all. The same for dutch people.

    Aber mir persönlich ist es lieber, wenn er eine Windmühle auf dem Kopf hat, als wenn er da in Lederhosen und Tracht säße, denn das hat mit Deutschland gar nichts zu tun ;D

  55. Hannah says:

    I can only agree with Anne.
    Even though a german person can read a bit of dutch and vice versa, it´s not the same language.
    And as it was mentioned earlier that Finnish isn´t that hard to learn, I can add the same for Hungarian, which uses a similar grammar of attaching syllables at the end of a word instead of a preposition.

    And Anne?
    oooh jaaa. Bayern ist und bleibt ein Freistaat, oder 😉

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