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Quote of the week: Hou je veilig zo lang als ik leef

“Ik zal strijden als een leeuw
Tot het jou aan niets ontbreekt
Hou je veilig zo lang als ik leef”

“I will fight like a lion
Until you shall want for nothing
Keep you safe as long as I live”

If you watched the popular talk show ‘Pauw en Witteman’ on Friday, 19 April around eleven thirty, you had the honour of witnessing the birth of a new way of saying goodbye in Dutch: ‘hou je veilig’ (‘keep safe’).

john ewbank

The person who announced the birth of this parting gesture is linguist Wim Daniëls when he was analyzing the text of ‘Het Koningslied’ (‘The King’s song’) composed by John Ewbank, written by him and several other well-known Dutchmen like his friend Marco Borsato in ‘honour’ of our new King Willem-Alexander.

Of the song Daniëls said that it was unworthy of a king because of the melodramatic message and the many grammatical mistakes. The song that addresses the King as ‘jij’ (and not ‘u’, for shame!), ends as follows:

“Ik zal strijden als een leeuw
Tot het jou aan niets ontbreekt
Hou je veilig zo lang als ik leef”

(I will fight like a lion
Until you shall want for nothing
Keep you safe as long as I live)

At the end of the programme Jeroen Pauw wished everyone goodnight and he sneered: “Hou je veilig”. Sunday morning the popular talk show host Eva Jinek also concluded her programme with this new goodbye and giggled.

This is not the end of the story. The song was ridiculed and criticized heavily and Ewbank (who was born in England from an English father and a Dutch mother but grew up in the Netherlands) got angry and withdrew the song. The national inauguration committee however decided to ignore the criticism and hold on to its performance.

The ‘Koningslied’, a mixture of traditional folk and rap, is recorded by some fifty Dutch artists. On 30 April during the coronation ceremony it will be performed and broadcast from Rotterdam. Some of Holland’s best-known stars will take part in this performance.

I am sure that ‘Hou je veilig!’ will become current before long and people will eventually forget where it came from.

Photo by www.dewerelddraaitdoor.vara.nl

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