The Laughing Dutch

  • Rudolf M. Dekker


The Dutch are considered a humourless people par excellence.1 A well-known sociologist characterised the Dutch in the 1940s as a ‘joyless people who are rarely cheerful’.2 The widespread image of the humourless Dutch has a long history. Back in 1833 a German traveller noted that the Dutch ‘are by nature unreceptive to humour’.3 More than a century earlier, an Englishman wrote: ‘The Dutch are more famous for their industry and application, than for wit and humour.’ Another concluded: ‘There is more sense than wit, more good nature than good humour.’4 And a French traveller from the middle of the eighteenth century commented: ‘Their character is cold and heavy.


Eighteenth Century Seventeenth Century Good Nature Dutch Translation Classical Writer 
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Copyright information

© Rudolf M. Dekker 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rudolf M. Dekker
    • 1
  1. 1.Erasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands

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