The Orcs and Rings are defeated once more (I always carry the complete series with me on vacations), and for many pages the waters were out in Lincolnshire – but not on Vlieland, my holiday resort. There, fog and sea mist lay heavily on the bleak dunes (no pun intended), creating a perfect atmosphere for long and silent hikes. As expected, of professional translation there was not a trace. But there was language. Language is everywhere, always. There were the entries in the guest book written by previous guests in their various dialects and languages. One guest had even taken the trouble to write a long delightful poem in Kölsch, the dialect c.q. language of Cologne. Then there were the various regional accents I could pick out whenever fellow visitors passed me on the road (not many of those). Having grown up in Friesland, I need only a few words – any will do – to recognise a Frisian. For Gronings two or three words containing -aa or t- will do. For Twents, a few words with -oo and -en will clench it. But this is nothing compared to what my mother told me. When she was a child, local dialects in her area, the Achterhoek, were still widely spoken and much more distinct then they are now. My mother and her sisters could pinpoint the exact village people came from, even if it was a mere 20 miles down the road.
Now, Vlieland is fading to the back of my mind and work once again demands my full attention. The first big event to come up are the ‘Reuvensdagen’, the annual national convention of all Dutch and (increasingly) Flemish archaeologists. Everyone who has any connection, however tenuous, to archaeology will be there. That means the bulk of my potential customers will be there, and therefore that I must be there and grab them. Fresh stacks of business cards and company brochures in my pockets, dressed to the nines and shoes shining, then a deep breath: off I go.