Horse & BMAC

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Mon Mar 20 12:53:12 UTC 2000

Mijnheer Elst,

since you found it necessary to refer in English to my half-private message
to you, and nicely twist it, here is the text & translation of my remark:

>Mijn - heer  Elst wrote some time ago:

>Seems I ought to join Herr Witzel's fan club.

>(Mijnheer Elst, dit soort stomme grapjes behooren toch niet in deze lijst.
>Ten minste niet van iemand, die denkt een serieuse onderzoeker te wezen.
>Ik noem U toch niet, met Uw norderlijke vrienden, een stomme  Belg, of
>iets dergelijks...)


(Mr. Elst, this kind of stupid jokes don't belong, indeed, on this list.
At least not by one who thinks himself to be a serious researcher. I do
*not* call you, indeed, together with your northern friends, a stupid
Belgian, or something like this...)

exacty the opposite of what Mijn-herr Elst makes of it in the post below.

And, though not part of Indology discussion (except for all those similar
North/South exchanges), the expression "een stomme Belg" is not a German
but a Dutch expression, as are the "Belgian jokes" that I was subjected to
during my 10 years or so in Holland. I have never heard one outside the
Netherlands;  the concept of "stupid Belgians" is unknown there.

And thanks for the Adenauer quote. Was a funny man, with his concept of
three kinds of truth:
the common truth, the clear truth, and the *real* truth...  Shouldn't we
introduce that in our discussions? T1, T2, T3?

Groetjes, MW

>Herr Witzel,
>I have by now understood that you are something of a humorist, so I don't
>mind in the least if you call me "een stomme Belg"*.  Only, a German should
>be careful with what he calls Belgians.  Your great post-War Chancellor
>Konrad Adenauer (and I suspect that my Christian-Democratic father had him
>in mind when he picked a first name for me) described the Germans as
>"Belgians with megalomania".
>And now that we're at it: any bilingual Belgian could tell you that the
>correct French expression is not "comme l'habitude" but "comme d'habitude".
>All the same: sincere thanks for the information on the BMAC.
>Yours sincerely,
>Koenraad Elst
>* for those who don't understand the language of paradise: "stom" means
>something between "dumb" and "stupid", a common stereotype in the "Belgian
>jokes" narrated by our neighbours.  Thus, on a train, three Dutchmen and a
>Belgian, one of the Dutchmen tells a Belgian joke.  The two other Dutchmen
>laugh, but the Belgian doesn't.  "Why aren't you laughing?" -- "I am Belgian
>myself." -- "Oh, then I'll tell it to you more slowly."


Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138

ph. 617-496 2990 (also messages)
home page:

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