Son of a Dutch mother and a Franco-Austrian father, I grew up in the Belgian Congo and in Antwerp. I returned to the Congo to read medicine. After a brief spell in the Portuguese Overseas Province of Angola I practised in Indonesia and in the Netherlands until I got fed up with the health care system.
I enjoy playing the zither, munching chocolates, sipping dessert wines, travelling, and reading. Portuguese, Afrikaans, Dutch, Latin and German literature. History of European settlement overseas and miscegenation. Jewish, German and Chinese diaspora. Colonial architecture. Scouting.
Language has been a lifelong passion. Swahili and Kinyarwanda are but boyhood memories now, of Kikongo and Lingala I only remember the swear words. Languages I read up on without ever acquiring a working knowledge include Swedish, Japanese, Ladino, Hungarian, Ancient Greek, Samoan, Chinese, Papiamento, Gaelic, Yiddish and the Dutch dialect of Northern France. My absolute favourites are: Afrikaans, for its sheer elegance and refinement, its power of expression, its intimate ties to Africa's nature, its capacity to convey a thousand shades of meaning. Next: Portuguese, for much the same reasons, and for its melodiousness when spoken with the right accent.
Accents are important to me, they make all the difference. English pleases my ear if it’s standard Southern British English (*Received Pronunciation*) or an educated Edinburgh accent. For most other languages a regionally tinged (though never truly dialectal) speech is preferred. Kyoto (rather than Tokyo) Japanese. O sotaque de Coimbra for Portuguese. Malay of the Malay Peninsula rather than that of Indonesia. A Bavarian (or better still an Austrian) accent for German. l’Accent du Midi for French. West-Flemish or Limburgian Dutch. And Karoo or Boland Afrikaans.