Dutch people should be proud. Very proud. For such a tiny little country, they’ve managed to successfully penetrate the English language.

Have you ever noticed how often the Dutch are referenced in English expressions? No? Well, below is a little list to get you started!

Examples of Dutch infiltration of the English language

Dutch bargain: a bargain made when you are too drunk to know better (first recorded in 1654)

Dutch defence: a legal  tactic whereby you rat someone out in order to get off free (first recorded in 1749)

Dutch courage: booze-induced bravery  (first recorded in 1826)

Dutch gold: a cheap gold-like alloy

Going Dutch/Dutch treat: where everyone pays for their own meal (so essentially no “treat” at all 😉

Dutch widow: prostitute

Dutch oven: a thick-walled (usually cast iron) cooking pot (braadpan). However, we’ll let you google the contemporary usage of the term 😉

As you can see, the majority of English expressions using the word “Dutch” aren’t too positive. Most of them, in fact, pack quite the punch and seem to foster more than a little animosity.

Why so? The Dutch had quite a prolific history of sea-faring, trade and war. The Anglo-Dutch wars of the 17th and 18th centuries resulted in the Brits not feeling too much love towards the Dutchies. These phrases thus reflect the opinion of the time that the Dutch were a slightly boozy, slightly cheap folk that were not to be trusted.

Of course, I will be the first to admit that some of these phrases still do make perfect sense. Take “Dutch Uncle” for instance.

Dutch uncle: “a term for a person who issues frank, harsh, and severe comments and criticism to educate, encourage, or admonish someone. Thus, a “Dutch uncle” is a person who is rather the reverse of what is normally thought of as avuncular or uncle-like (which would be indulgent and permissive).” (Source: good ol’ wikipedia)

It is safe to say, that sometimes the entire country feels like its populated by Dutch Uncles!  I would recommend, however, that you go take a swig of Dutch courage before you pull a Dutch oven on your sweet-heart tonight (and no, we ain’t talking about a cooking pot)!

106 Responses

  1. Ronny

    I’m a Dutch uncle. Ome Ronny, in fact. I teach my English-Turkish nieces right from wrong in the proper way. No English teacher has the balls to do so, so it’s left to me. Quite right too!

    Reply
    • Inkie

      Sam, I miss “Cookie”. Isn’t that from the Dutch word “Koekje”? The English word is Biscuit.

      Reply
  2. Geraldine

    I had never heard of the term “Dutch oven” (and I’m Dutch), until some Australian friends explained it to me (though not until they stopped laughing after finding out I was Dutch). And then they asked ME where the saying comes from! How am I supposed to know! You funny English-speaking people are the ones doing it, you must’ve named it also! Hmpf. Dutch oven.

    Reply
    • Kairo

      No shit Sherlock! Jullie noemen het maar “oven”. I am American and live in the US. When I want pizza, I don’t tell people that I’m going to order American pizza for dinner…

      Reply
      • SurreyDutch

        @Kairo; The Dutch oven comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch, who actually stem from Germany (Deutsch -> Dutch). I would even argue that dutch ovens are more prevalent in the US than in the Netherlands.

      • Geraldine

        I was referring to the joke though… So they asked me why farting under the bedspread while holding your sweethearts head under it too, is called a Dutch Oven. Again, they’re the ones doing it, so why should I know where the name comes from…!

  3. Ra (@thekognitif)

    you forgot mentioning Dutch Wife; a long body-length pillow
    and in West Sumatra, ex Ducth colony, we called soursoup as Durian Belanda, it means Dutch Durian 😉

    Reply
  4. Edwin Veldhuizen

    I was also weirded out when my Canadian friend came up with why a Dutch Oven is called a DUTCH oven. A few weeks later my american friend started talking later about cooking in a Dutch Oven on his holiday in a Cabin, which made me laugh..

    Then we figured out the Dutch Oven -joke actually comes from the actual ‘dutch oven’ which is just a kind of pan to cook food in (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_oven). By the way, most Dutchies don’t know either meaning of ‘the Dutch Oven’ and most of the expressions mentioned above. ( except for going dutch of course! )

    Reply
    • dmf

      Well I’m sure they don’t call them “Dutch Ovens” over here because, you know, it’s the Netherlands, but they still have them. It’s like, I’m from Buffalo, we don’t call them “Buffalo Wings”… we just call them “wings”.

      But yes, the joke comes from the effect being much like using a cast-iron, slow-cooker, covered pot on the stovetop.

      Reply
      • Carlos

        And slow cooking is the way to cook stuff!!!! Ask the Irish and English they are known for it…..LOL “put all the stuff in a pot and cook it for 24 hours. No recipe needed. Here is your stew

  5. Chris inberlin

    The first noun in the Oxford English dictionary is actually Aardvark…(a Dutch word, derived from Afrikaans (Cape Dutch). In fact many of the Dutch words that made it into the English dictionary…actually came from South African Dutch (Afrikaans). Start Trek..named after the Great Trek in South Africa…The Dutch word for Trek..is actually (trekken) South African Dutch (trek)! I’m not so sure Dutch people should forget that the Boers (Dutch descendents) in South Africa actually helped the Dutch language more than what they are willing to acknowledge or give credit too.

    Reply
    • Carlos

      OMG…. These words were used in the english language a long time before that. The Afrikaans language gradually began diverging from the Northwestern European Dutch dialects in the course of the 18th century. (wikipedia)
      So that’s not hat long ago.

      Reply
    • josie brendle

      Should that not be the other way around??!!

      Reply
  6. Squash11

    I think you forgot the best one “Dutch Bingo” You start by asking where they work, or where they live, or where they go to church and eventually you will find someone that you know that they may know or someone that may know the same person that you knew of that your person either knew or may have known someone else that may have known the original person or at least had known someone that they thought probably knew the person that you thought you might have known or at least thier acquaintance had heard of that other person and there you have it. ‘Dutch Bingo”

    Reply
  7. Marina

    The Dutch oven was used by the Pennsylvania Dutch (ie Germans)

    Reply
  8. Eveline

    How about dubble dutch? Having sex with the protection of a condom and the pill!

    Reply
    • Angela

      Never heard that, I always thought it was in reference to hard to understand when one is speaking.

      Reply
  9. Brian

    In the movie business, a Dutch shot means he horizon is angled at an unusual angle. There is a specific addition made to a tripod for this, called a Dutch head that tilts side to side as well as the normal front to back. It’s not unusual for someone in the business to say ‘Dutch that shot’ when setting up a picture. The origin of the term started out as Deutsche angle but that’s not unusual for non-Europeans to get that confused.

    Reply
  10. dmf

    The funny thing is, as a native speaker of _American_ English, I’ve only heard of Going Dutch, Dutch Oven… and for some reason, Double Dutch which is a type of jump-rope activity. Where I come from, Dutch Courage is actually called Irish Courage, but then I come from a heavily Irish neighborhood in Buffalo, NY. (Bonus factoid: “Irish Twins” are siblings born less than a year apart.)

    Also, the funny thing about the term “Going Dutch” is it was always used to denote a sort of equality among the group. Like, we all pay our own way because we’re all equal. I had no idea there was some sort of stereotype of Dutch people being cheap until I moved here!

    Reply
    • Angela

      Yep, Double Dutch was always a jump rope game… but being from Michigan where there is a lot of Dutch, (we even have a Holland Michigan with Sinter klaas and all) We use the term going Dutch, or Dutch treat, Dutch uncle and Dutch courage and Dutch gold.

      Reply
  11. tim

    Funny how apparently it is okay for English speakers to use these xenophobic phrases. Can you imagine the outrage should the Dutch language contain such expressions? I even read rants by Americans about an innocent phrase like “Amerikaanse fuif”.

    Reply
    • dmf

      Not all English speakers are American. And as I said above, most Americans have never heard or used any of these. Except the Dutch Oven, which actually has nothing to do with the people and everything to do with the kitchen implement. And Going Dutch, which I always took to be a reference to equality.

      Also, frmo what I’ve heard “Amerikaanse Fuif” is supposed to mean… uh, no one does that over there.

      Also, Filet Americain? What the heck is that crap?

      Reply
    • Martijn Janssen

      And what to think of “Amerikaanse toestanden” (American circumstances) when there is lot of criminal activity or there is a shooting.

      Reply
    • Angela

      Americans living in The Netherlands here… I do not think it is just Americans who have issues but there seems to be a culture clash with words at times. For example certain swear words in American English are considered very offensive but here in NL they use the F word even in newspaper headlines… that is not the case in America and no we do not all go on and talk like they do in the movies. But when I hear certain words that are considred vulgur in Dutch I translate them and they sound rather silly over vulgar.
      So something like going Dutch etc sounds offensive maybe but in the country they speak it maybe not…
      I want to add Americans are always making fun of eachother, although not PC anymore they still do it. Only politicians are PC and work space…after that we all have our jokes. Hence the guy who said Irish Twins… 🙂 I doubt the irish are up in arms about him saying it but the president… no he can not say that!

      Reply
      • swhite44

        What words are considered vulgar in Dutch?!
        I regularly hear ‘kut’, ‘fuk’, ‘shit’ in badminton when someone does a bad shot.
        So some words are vulgar?
        What could they be?!

    • Bea

      At the risk of seeming repetitive, I thought I’d, too, chime in on the expression ‘going Dutch’. When I was a kid some 30 odd years ago, I recall folk using the expression to mean to split the bill equally when dining out. I understood it as a slight on people from the Netherlands as if they were meant to be a stingy folk. Fortunately, no one really uses the expression anymore where I’m from (California). Any other USers care to add their two cents’ worth?

      Reply
      • badger

        it was certainly a reasonably common expression in England around the same time but I haven’t heard it used for a long time and assume it is dying out. I never considered it in a derogatory manner though. More that the Dutch were a sensible people with a sense of egalitarianism. Just my opinion though so possibly there was more meaning to it than I knew.

      • dmf

        As I also said, above, I don’t know that anyone necessarily explained it to me explicitly, but I grew up viewing “Going Dutch” as more of an equality thing. I was completely ignorant of the “Dutch are stingy” stereotype until I moved here.

  12. valerie

    The Greek had to deal with the Barbarians (Berbers) and the Anglo-Saxon world had the Dutch.

    Reply
    • tim

      Maybe it was the other way around, the Berbers had to deal with the Greek and the Dutch had to deal with the Anglo-Saxons.

      Reply
  13. Mammavark

    I am sometimes wondering why our language is called Dutch, seeing that we are from the Netherlands, and speak ‘Nederlands’ who ever came up with Dutch?

    Reply
    • Donna DuCarme

      I was told (by my immigration teacher) that “Dutch” comes from Duits, and was considered a lower/common form of the German language.

      Reply
      • Irene

        Then you mean Nederduits? Which was spoken from The Netherlands up to Estland.

      • Mavadelo

        Actually your immigration teacher is just partially correct. Dutch comes from Diets and that in turn comes from an adjective and it means volk (common people). In fact rumour has it (found conflicting sources for this) that the original anthem began with : Wilhelmus van Nasua, ben ik van DIETSEN bloed, instead of van Duitsen bloed changing the meaning of it. instead of singing I am from german blood, it then means My blood is from common people.

        Diets became Dutch in English and has the same etymology but that is also the case with Deutsch hence the confussion

    • gerard van maren

      Gold diggers in the USA also referred to people from Scandinavia as Dutch. It originally referrred to continental germanic languages. Dutch, Teutsch, Theodoric, Tudor are all related words.

      Reply
  14. Martijn Janssen

    Sometimes Dutch refers to Germans, not Dutch. The German word for Dutch is Deutsch which was transliterated to Dutch in the US. For example, the Pennsylvania Dutch come from Germany.

    Reply
      • Marek

        Correct, Irene!
        Germans speak “Deutsch”, the Dutch speak “Nederlands” and the Pennsylvania Germans “Deitsch”, morphed falsely into “Dutch”:-)

      • Angela

        I have to add the Pennsylvanias sound not German at all… I doubt any German could understand them!

  15. Flying Dutchman

    I find it funny in a light-hearted way that although there are many degorative terms for ‘Dutch this’ and ‘Dutch that’ in English, but very few such terms in reverse.
    The idea that these phrases would mean it was the Dutch who were the boozy, cheap, uncultured folk in particular.

    But that doesn’t mean we weren’t too 😉

    Well my Dutch is up, I’d give you a Dutch rub, but I’d be afraid to be accused of Dutch talent and I’m a Dutchman if I do.

    I’ll be over here in the corner eating my Dutch sandwhich.

    Reply
  16. Invader_Stu

    My Dutch family-in-law love using English Dutch phrases at me all the time. They find it really funny.

    Reply
  17. Marek

    Conversely, I’ve always found it highly amusing the way certain European languages, among them Dutch, love to appropriate, i.e MISSappropriate. English words in contexts in which a native Dutch expression would do just as nicely:-) Particularly the under-thirty crowd enjoy peppering their native tongue with English vulgarity, e.g. ‘Wat heb je al voor SHIT geschreven!’ etc.

    Surely out of the riches of the Dutch language we can all do better than thatLOL

    Reply
    • Peter

      Absolutely right! I always get pissed-off hearing or reading the word “impact” in The Dutch media. Indruk, gevolg, resultaat, etc. are perfect Dutch words.

      Reply
  18. Marek

    Thanks for the vote of confidence there, Angie!
    Appreciate all the support I can get on my lonely campaign to extirpate the already “infiltrated” nemesis of “Globarge” or Global English Garbage (from “Globish” + “garbage”)
    LOL

    PS
    For that matter, “global ANYTHING’s” rather distasteful as well, be it Global English, Dutch, whatever!!!
    🙂

    Reply
    • Angela

      You have all my support, it drives me up a wall! I was so suprised ot see a news paper headline with the F word, I kept thinking why or why or why…

      Reply
      • Marek

        Indeed, Angela! Such vulgarization of language has become a worldwide problem. German also seems to be experiencing its own sort of “mid-life” identity crisis; too “German”, not good, “too American”, not good either.

        What, then?

  19. Dutch widow

    You do realize that the dutch language existed before English, right? The English language is made out of Dutch, German and Frisian.

    Saying that our little country should be proud to have infiltrated the English language, even though we’re partially responsible for creating it.

    Reply
    • Angela

      I beg to differ Dutch Window. You left out many other groups of people and languages that made what is todays modern English. The English language was and is still influenced by so much more than Dutch, German and Frisian.

      Reply
  20. Richard Bos

    Another one is Dutch Auction where the bidding goes down rather than up. 🙂

    Reply
    • Mavadelo

      Although the only auction working like that is the flower auction but seeing that that is about the most famous export product we have I can understand they call it like that 😉

      Reply
  21. Badger

    As an Englishman I quite like the idea of being infiltrated by the Dutch :o)

    Reply
  22. Marek

    Angie,

    Nowadays in Germany even internal board meetings at GERMAN companies are held in English!
    It’s becoming insane. And what English!!! A laughing stock, I can assure you. It might well pass muster in Passau, but most assuredly not in New York:-)

    Reply
    • swhite44

      Of course not! They would need to say LIKE and OH MY GOD a few times in every sentence to pass muster in the US. And AWESOME of course, and ON THE GROUND.

      Reply
      • Angela

        (Angie)Actually ¨they¨(New Yorkers) would most likely be speaking many forms of English or none at all. Not sure which New Yorkers you are referring to, however I can assure in New York as well as in the USA to pass and write English, get a job and even attend University etc. you need not say the slang. I can assure you it will not pass muster. In fact I have never been to any board meeting where any one person used the vocabulary you mention and speak it as such. I suppose if I was in the entertainment industry that maybe acceptable.

      • Peter

        Don’t forget to paste in “…you know” every 2 or 4 words.
        I always tell them that I don’t know unless they explain and provide proof.

    • Badger

      This does seem rather odd and embarrassing (speaking as an Englishman). If I worked for a German company in Germany I would expect to speak German. We (the English people) are being made lazy by our education system not putting enough emphasis on other languages so we assume everyone will speak English. It’s not so much arrogance as a mixture of our poor education system as well as other nations learning English to a higher standard than we do. On a recent trip to Amsterdam I tried speaking Dutch to people I met in the hotel, on trams, in shops, but they all spoke back to me in English. Our schools in England struggle to get any students to choose German, Spanish or French as an option and it is rarely taught as a compulsory subject, and where it is compulsory, it is only taught between the ages of 14 and 16. I’m proud to speak French and German and am currently learning Dutch to a higher level and would not consider visiting another country unless I had at least a basic understanding of the language and I would never impose English out of context such as in a business meeting in Germany for example. Maybe I am in danger of becoming a kaaskop? Ik houd van kaas en ik denk smeerkaas is erg lekker!

      Reply
      • Angela

        My thoughts… English is the world language and education systems are focused on learning English . This is not what I would define as lazy, but in fact far from it. English is spoken as a second or foreign language by an estimated 950 million people worldwide (Saville-Troike, 2006). This is in addition to the 427 million native speakers of English. I quoted that statistic because it is surely not laziness that taught those 950 million people to speak English.
        The fact is if you speak the world language one must have a good reason to make it a priority to master another language. I do not call this laziness. I would love to learn more languages but it is not a priority because I speak English fluently. I too try to learn what I refer to as holiday lingo when I travel. For one to have an expectation that a person will know some English is not really lazy or arrogant but a fact that many do. Just as I expect people to stop when a light turns red, I do so because universally red means stop. Sure not in all cases but in most. Yes I should learn about another system if indeed I am in a place where I will need it but only if and then.
        I prefer speaking English over butchering German any day to a native German speaker. If he can understand my English and I his…we communicate and that is the goal for me to communicate.
        Native English speaking countries do provide language education and also require them at times. So one can prove that they are able if needed to learn a new language. I think that is enough.
        One can argue that English belongs to everyone in todays world. I mean just look at the statistics more non natives speak it than natives! In my opinion this mostly likely will keep English a world language well into the 21st century.
        But hey you never know who or what will be next? Chinese?

      • Badger

        Angela, I wasn’t referring to English-speakers as lazy but to people who have gone through or who are currently within the English schooling system. The curriculum they are offered is inadequate in its feeble attempts to teach the languages of our nearest European neighbours and this encourages a lazy attitude to cultural integration, part of which is to show an interest in other languages. For English people I would count Dutch, Italian, German, French, Spanish as good starting points.

        The mere fact that a person is speaking a leading language should not be used as an excuse not to learn another language. If poor language skills are a product of poor educational policy, then that is enforced laziness. If they are due to a belief that as a speaker of English one requires a good reason to learn another language then I despair. I don’t mean “holiday lingo” either, though that is better than nothing. I would prefer a second language to be taught from a very early age alongside English in England. I do think that a conscious refusal to do so smacks of arrogance.

        My goal too is communication but so too is respect for both the culture and language of others. A reciprocation of effort. Maybe this is a product of political correctness in the UK. I am lucky to work in a multi national environment where English is the primary language but many of my colleagues are German, French, Dutch, Russian, etc. Socially we speak a mixture of languages and also share each others’ cultures. it makes for a much more cohesive team. I see no problem in learning a language for fun or just for the hell of it as a purely intellectual pursuit. Some people just enjoy learning new skills. Vive la difference.

        The next language should have been Esperanto.

  23. Marek

    (Not so..) gentle problem with that, Angela, is that while you are, it seems, overly concerned with butchering a German’s native language, he or she probably couldn’t give a rat’s arse whether they are butchering yours:-) Do you know German? If so, then check out the >FAZ< issue before last and the lead article in the business section entitled "Sis iss Dieter collink.." to appreciate the degree with which the journalist was merrily lampooning those paltry attempts at English by the average university-educated German. Hilarious!!

    Reply
    • Angela

      Marek
      When I say butcher, I am referring to mispronunciation and translating while speaking in German or any other language. I used German as an example. I have no real knowledge of the language at all. I know a bit of Holiday phrases to get me by and amuse the Germans with my accent while visiting.
      I can say that I have worked for at least 15 years in an industry where English was the universal language for business. I worked with many who indeed spoke broken English but never ever did I hear vulgarity, or slang in these meetings. I do not condone nor find it okay to use slang in business or in an educational setting. I find it offensive and dare I say , I judge it harshly. Because I do not know German for example I would never use MTV Germany as my go to for a quick learn either. So yes I find it a bit perplexing and wonder why a Dutch Newspaper that is respected as good journalism by the Dutch would use the Fword in a head line, or use the same to describe Pizza in a commercial. This is unacceptable in my opinion. So yes I give a rats butt about the language. It hurts my ears and burns my eyeballs.
      Yet… I care just as much when I hear a native English speaker using slang in the exact same setting. Now when it is on MTV or the likes no, I do not give a ratts butt unless they do not know any other adjectives besides swear and slang to describe something.
      I do know of some foreign words that migrated into expressive slang in the USA Uber for example, I am sure it may make a few Germans ears hurt when an American teenager states that is uber good dude. I can say never was that word used in a board meeting, nor awesome, and ummm like yeah…etc. As was given as an example by the other poster I addressed. Ridiculous I say!
      So I will say this, Broken English is acceptable but stupid English is not 🙂 My idea of crap English is of what I described with the commercials and newspaper. In that case just speak English or Dutch but do not speak Dunglish and call it English or Dutch.
      I am now too tired to think and wonder if I made any sense at all. If not my apologies.

      Reply
  24. Marek

    Angela,
    What you’re saying makes perfect sense, to me at any rate:-) Yet I still cannot concur in toto for the following reasons. First, if English, let’s just suppose for a minute shall we, is THE international “passport” language, oughtn’t we keep our passport in better condition, and not all dog-eared?? Second, a language isn’t worth all that much if it’s not used to ultimate effectiveness, but merely as a sort of makeshift filler. After all, words are in the end tools, and not toys, therefore they should be treated with the same care as one would a band saw, rotary blade, hammer or chisel, am I right so far?

    Problem is that for far too long we’ve allowed mother-tongue English to slide and slip into a sort of “Globish- mish-mosh”, that it’s become world cesspool language of miscommunication No. 1 instead of world instrument for accurate understanding and communication for which EVERY language is intended!

    Germans, Dutch etc. typically (and often rightly!!) assume that most people out there don’t understand their languages, therefore, they MUST necessarily be(-come) talented in English in order to communicate with foreigners. A laudable goal, only not one which has been achieved in the long run, I’m afraid.

    And finally, always remember that whenever you ASSume, you make an ASS of U and ME.
    LOL

    Reply
    • Angela

      You make some very good points for me to ponder and ideed I will. I look forward to more thought on this from you. Reply soon to come of course 🙂

      Reply
  25. Marek

    Thanks, Angela!

    More to the point, I’ve long grown weary of this eternal double standard that Americans in particular who actually know a foreign language, however fluently, are by definition of being non-native European native speakers, merely “practicing” the language, whereas those from the Netherlands, Germany etc.. somehow automatically “speak” English, although such is often not entirely the case.

    Has it ever occur to a Dutchman, for instance, that maybe, JUST maybe, they too are practicing their English and that certain foreigners might in fact know Dutch better than the Dutchman English?? What standard is there throughout Europe in the long run if generations of pupils learn often faulty English from non-native speaker teachers during school time for years, while here in the US, mostly only native Spanish, French or German teachers are authorized to teach? Why a lower standard for English?

    Perhaps it’s all a matter of expectation.

    Reply
    • Bas

      Marek,

      You expect in the Netherlands native English teachers? In the Netherlands it will mean basically a native speaking teacher for ALL primary school children as well as ALL high school students. We need a lot of native speakers for that to say the least. In the US foreign language is given to around 20-30% on primary and high school and the majority is Spanish (for which native speakers are relatively easy to find). It is probably with the best intention but impossible to implement and situations are completely not comparable. And I am not even mentioning the same requirement for the German and French language (which is also mandatory for all high school students in the Netherlands).

      Reply
      • Peter

        I’m glad I learned English (4 years), German (4 years) and French (5 years) in the Dutch school system in the 50-60s. They were just mandatory. If you didn’t measure up you were in serious danger of having to repeat the year.
        Of course learning a language involves reading a lot. I mean real books. People don’t read anymore. They prefer to sit on the couch and watch sub-titled foreign programs. That’s why you only hear one-worded screams and no conversations. No vocabulary.

  26. Marek

    More or less an addendum to my message immediately prior. As there’s no “edit” icon unfortunately, I ought to not only correct my grammatical redundancy, but also qualify the last sentence:-) My rhetorical query ought to read “Why is it that mostly ONLY Spanish, French or German-BORN AND RAISED instructors are authorized to teach their native tongue while anybody throughout the world, i.e. Europe, is allowed to teach English which is not their native language?”

    Reply
    • Angela

      I suppose it is a matter of expectation. However I agree that proper English shoudl be taught. What peaked my bran the most is when you stated ¨Has it ever occur to a Dutchman, for instance, that maybe, JUST maybe, they too are practicing their English and that certain foreigners might in fact know Dutch better than the Dutchman English??¨
      You are correct if according to my experience. Living here in NL I rarely get the opportunity to use Dutch for most want to show off their English or practice it not really speak it, which most of the time is well Dunglish. However how can I practice my Dutch if they expect perfect Dutch? The reason why I state this is few Dutch will tolerate my lack of good Dutch skills on one hand but I am to tolerate there Dunglish.

      Reply
  27. Marek

    Angela, firstly, thanks ever so much for your prompt and courteous reply. It’s also right on point.
    The Dutch have a saying “Oefening baart kunst.” or “Practice makes perfect.” However, when perfection is more or less expected without the opportunity to be seized of being permitted to practice your Dutch, do what I did throughout the rest of the continent; pretend you’re a bloody greenhorn who doesn’t understand English!! That way, natives are practically FORCED to speak to you in the target language. After all, how can you answer say a Dutchman, Frenchman, German, in (preferredLOL) English when you claim neither to speak nor understand it, right?

    Once in Amsterdam, a youngish chap asked me, at first in Dutch of course, whether or not I had a light. When I replied that I had (naturally in Dutch as well!), hearing what he perceived to be a foreign, i.e. Anglo, accent, he immediately put on this vulgarian, aging Rutger Hauer act, you know the type, where every other word’s an American obscenity and the person begins to sound like a caricature of the late Dennis Hopper coming off of an acid trip….. I then proceeded in my best Dutch accent to lampoon HIS broken English! While it nearly got yours truly a busted lip, it also got him to think for a moment. The next time, he probably wouldn’t be so cocky about his English:-)

    Now let’s multiply this example x-fold throughout Europe and see what a small difference it can make ^^

    Reply
    • Angela

      Marek,
      My pleasure and indeed I might just have to try your suggestions. The truth be known that on occasions while speaking Dutch I have been asked if I know English. I usually reply yes, now I am excited to reply my new answers. Me no English, Engels nee. No speak the English, Easy enough! In fact by example and hearing my native tongue spoke so often I am afraid I can convince another native English speaker I do not speak the English.

      Reply
      • Marek

        Riposte to your previous message, Angela!
        Once in Sweden, a Swede told me that my Swedish was good enough to convince a Dane that I was GermanLOL

        If that’s not one for the books:-)

  28. Martyn

    Funny thing is, “Going Dutch” might mean that everybody pays for him/herself, but in Dutch an “American Party” is a party to which everybody brings some kind of food or drink so the host does not have to pay for it all. Kind of like a Potluck party.

    Reply
  29. Marek

    That would certainly explain the rather frosty reception I once received from some Dutch locals at an “informal” party in their flat to which I was invited many moons ago:-) Naturally trying to be a good guest, I arrived on time (not ‘fashionably late’!) and brought a gift in the form of a bottle of modest-looking, yet rather expensive red wine from France, wrapped in spanking tricoloeur bows and ribbons.
    Okay, I’m not a Lutheran, so maybe a tad overdone. Well, the party was just getting underway when the other guests began arriving in droves, most of them Dutch as well (oh, and one very young German lady from Duesseldorf who spoke English like a Valley Girl – like TOTALLY). The refreshments served were delicious, though not ostentatious, typically Dutch.

    By the end of the evening, round about midnight or so, the somewhat attractive, middle-aged hostess came around to each of the fifteen-odd guests, at which point they tacitly reached inside their billfolds and gave the woman anywhere from large bills to loose change. She then arrived where my acquaintances and I were seated, with a polite request for a small contribution. When I sheepishly replied that I’d already brought a gift and was somewhat short of cash, I was softly, but ROUNDLY, told off that

    Reply
  30. Marek

    ……”all that I see here are scarcely donations, and where did I get my bad manners…”, all in rapid-fire Dutch:-) I quickly realized that a contribution was expected in order to defray the costs of the festivities, liquor etc..

    One person’s cheapness is another’s culture.

    Reply
    • Angela

      @Marek,
      Oh that is funny! My neighbor laughs at my Dutch and I asked what was so funny, she told me I spoke Dutch like a Turkish woman!

      Reply
    • Adriana

      That’s really weird! I’m Dutch and i can assure you that that’s not culture, never heard of something like that happening. Are you just making things up to reinforce the ‘Dutch are tight’ stereotype?

      Reply
      • Angela

        Are you serious? No, I simply stated what my neighbor stated when I asked what she was giggling about when I spoke Dutch. Maybe you have internal issues to resolve with this issue and are projecting it on others.

  31. Angela

    As an American I can assure you it is called a potluck. The tradition has nothing to do with the host having not pay for it all. It has everything to do with bringing people together for a community meal. In the USA the custom is so popular there are tradtional dishes one brings to a pot luck so many in fact I can not list them all. One can take great pride in a recipe that everyone can not get enough of, share there food culture and even if it is a bomb of a dish not anyone will say so for they appreciate your contribution. It gives everyone the opportunity to host the party.
    If indeed the Dutch host a Pot Luck known to them as an American party as a Potluck to save money they have put an Dutch ideal onto it.

    Reply
  32. Marek

    As a fellow Yank, Angela, I couldn’t agree with you more:-)
    My surprise at the time was, being an American, it was hard to fathom that a host/hostess in particular would have the unmitigated audacity to upbraid a guest at their own party, especially an invited foreign visitor. Gosh, you’d have though I were a gate crasher or the like, the way she reacted! Not as much as an ounce of support on my behalf from the other guests, by the way.

    Then again, keen student of Dutch history and culture that I am, I merely kept reminding myself on my way home that night that the well-known ‘verzuiling’ during the mid-sixties etc.. has endowed the Dutch with a certain naivete regarding human equality, that’s all it is. If everyone’s equal, so Dutch thinking goes, why should CERTAIN folks NOT get balled out for stuff while others do?

    It maybe shortsighted from our perspective, yet from a Dutch point of view it makes all sorts of sense:-)

    Reply
    • Angela

      Ahh culture shock. I got my fair share of it in the beginning of my residency in The Netherlands.
      I thought of myself as open minded, easy to adapt, for I had traveled extensively to so many place including Asia. I was quickly eating humble pie.
      To this day the culture around Dutch etiquette baffles me.
      I recall always sending out invitaions for dinner parties, my wedding, etc. I always put RSVP. I would get frustrated because not one Dutch person would RSVP. I never knew how many were coming for the occasion.
      In frustration I exclaimed with exasperation to my husband why do ¨they¨ not RSVP!
      He then told me that most Dutch say nothing unless they can not come. Hmmm I thought okay but being me I now put please contact me if you can not attend following my email. It works.

      Reply
  33. Marek

    Wow! This experience of yours is nearly identical to my first in Germany umpteen years back:-)
    Polite phrases for “I’m sorry!”, “Excuse/Pardon me!” etc. DO most definitely exist in the German language, only it seemed at first glance or listen, that NOBODY uses them! Much as in narrow Amsterdam, when as a newbie in Berlin, I was being jostled every which way by complete strangers, never offered as much as a “Beg your pardon!” The Germans have a favorite sentence when glancing upon the oftn wilted look of many a rudeness-bruised foreigner which translates roughly to “Not being yelled at is praise enough.” (Nicht geschimpft, ist Lob genug.)

    Traditions are rarely if ever cross-culturally transferrable!

    Reply
  34. Van Veen (= from the peat)

    Why would you call it “penetrate the English language”?
    That makes it sound like the English language is some kind of prostitute.
    Well, perhaps the reason is that it is like a prostitute indeed 🙂

    And “a Dutch oven”…you must have a really disgusting mind to come up with such pranks under the sheets.
    But on the positive side, we all know in which country and by whom this stinky concept was invented…not in Holland and not by the Dutch! 🙂

    Reply
  35. Eer

    The word Dutch derived from the old word Diets – the old word for ‘Nederlands’. That is also why our national anthem says Duitsen bloed. It used to be dietsen bloed. (So the connection to Germany is actually not correct)

    Reply
    • Mavadelo

      Yeah I think you are correct although I have seen conflicting sources on that. Fact remains that Diets, Deutsch and Dutch are having the same etymology
      Even the word Diets has several explanations. Diets means Common people but Dietsch is believed to be a surname in the ancestry of our royals (so either it was from Dietsen or from DIetschen bloed). It will take a lot of researching before a definitive conclusion can be drawn……like so many things in Holland

      Reply
  36. Pete

    Ahhh, as a former Royal Dutch Marine (established by Michiel de Ruyter in 1665) I remember Medway.
    We might be small but have a serious punch. Contrary to the American Marine Corpse 🙂

    Reply
  37. Are Dutch people cheap or just thrifty?

    […] copper wire? Two Dutchmen fighting for a penny”). Of course the infamous English expression ‘Going Dutch’ which has been a staple in the English lexicon for decades hasn’t helped curtail the […]

    Reply
  38. John Scmithz

    Dutch door is a door where the top opens separately from the bottom.

    Reply
    • Jane

      When I asked some Dutch people where I could find a Dutch door, they thought it was a very funny concept, as well as the Dutch oven. I would love to be the only American in my village with a Dutch door, though. Very handy for animals, small children, and establishing a barrier while still being open to neighbors. (goes with the American comfort zone, you know 😉 )

      Reply

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