316. Als het gaat om

When it comes to / regarding / concerning [Dutch Phrase Of The Week]

This phrase is a very popular way among politicians to introduce a subject. It’s also a good manipulative technique that allows you to give an answer while implicitly changing the question. Especially Dutch prime minister Balkenende seems very fond of this phrase…

– "Als het gaat om veiligheid en comfort, dan is deze auto de juiste keuze voor u."
("When it comes to safety and comfort, this car is the right choice for you.")

– "Als het gaat om normen en waarden, zal deze regering haar steentje bijdragen."
("Regarding moral values, this government will do its bit." Lit.: "Regarding norms and values, this government will contribute its little stone." See Extra for more on "normen en waarden".)

– "Meneer Balkenende, wat vindt u van de verhoging van het collegeld?"
– "Als het gaat om verbetering van de economische positie van ons land,
is verhoging van de kwaliteit van het onderwijs noodzakelijk."
("Mister Balkenende, what do you think of the increase of college
tuition fees?" – "If we consider the economical position of our
country, increasing the quality of education is necessary.")

– "Als het gaat om lekker dineren in een vriendelijke sfeer, dan zit u goed bij restaurant Tartufo."
("When it comes to pleasant dining in a friendly atmosphere, then Tartufo’s is the right place." Note: "goed zitten" literally translates to "to sit well/comfortably", but it also used as an expression meaning "to be right".)

– "Als het gaat om alles wat je lief hebt
, wie kun je dan vertrouwen?"
("When it comes to all that you love, who can you trust?" Line from the classic Dutch pop song "Vriendschap" by the Dutch 80s band "Het goede doel".)

"Normen en waarden" is frequently used in Dutch politics and media as one single concept. In general "normen en waarden" stands for manners and moral principles that should be used in public, social, inter-human traffic. The concept of "normen en waarden" was first introduced in Dutch politics in July 2002 by the first government led by prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende, in that time often mockingly called "Harry Potter". Since then, a public debate has started (and is still going on), and "normen en waarden" is seen as an important political subject.

On a personal Guru note: the whole "normen and waarden" debate has a bit of a patronizing feel to it…

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