My favourite Dutch words which don't exist in English
Hey guys, I just wanted to share some of my favourite Dutch words which don't have a direct English equivalent ( as far as I know).
IJsberen ( literally: polarbearing). It means ' to pace around the room in deep thought' . It originates from captive polar bears in zoos, who often start pacing around their cage if they get too bored or depressed. A bit sad, actually. ( note that 'de ijsberen' is also the plural of polar bear. I am talking about the verb here.)
Uitbuiken (literally: outbellying). It is a verb, basically meaning to sit back after a large meal when you are very full and satisfied, and you give some time for your food to be digested.
Gezellig ( no English translation possible). Most of you probably know this one, it is basically a word that captures a broad variety of terms relating to fun-ness and good atmoshphere. If a house is ' gezellig' it is cozy and homelike, if an event is ' gezellig' it is fun and there are probably many people there who you can have a good time with. Chatting with your friends is 'gezellig', as well as nestling up in front of the fireplace. If someone is on their phone during dinner all the time, they are ' not being gezellig'. Gezellig is a very nice, positive word ( though it can be used sarcastically!) that is very hard to define with one English word, which is a shame. The noun-version of ' gezellig' is ' de gezelligheid'.
Afbellen (literally: offcalling). It means to cancel plans by phone. It is probably related to ' afzeggen' ( literally: offsaying), which means to cancel (plans). Cancelling something like a subscribtion is called 'opzeggen' .
Uitzieken (literally: outsicking). Basically, it means ' to sick it out' : when you just let the illness run its course and you get some rest until it is over.
There are many, many more of these fun Dutch words, but I can't think of any more at the moment so if you're interested I might post more on another day! I'm curious to hear some of your favourite words, so don't be afraid to share! :)
Bedankt! Ik hou van Nederlandse woorden! These are great...my favorite being gezellig. I love that cozy feeling. :)
Gezellig is good. Me and my girlfriend just thinking that we like it in the Netherlands and we compared it to Sweden: Sweden is the top in how countries are run but the Netherlands more gezellig.
Yes, I love 'gezellig' as well, and I think that almost every Dutch person does! Although we Dutch like to complain, we generally love ' gezelligheid' and good atmosphere as well. Just knowing the word 'gezellig' will already help quite a lot in charming us :)
Just a small correction, what you meant to say is ' Ik hou van Nederlandse woorden' ( ' houd' is actually also correct, but it sounds a little formal and ' hou' is used much more). ' van' is used when it is possesive, not for adjectives.
E.g. ' De kast van Tom' = ' The closet of Tom ( Tom's closet) '.
But ' De rode kast' = ' The red closet'.
Veel succes met leren! ( good luck with learning! )
Natafelen (literally: after tabling). After any meal, remain seated at the table, having a gezellig chat while everybody is aan het uitbuiken, normally all the plates and left-overs will still be on the table. This word does exist in Spanish: sobremesa.
Polder…well the English just use the Dutch word, since there is only one word to describe it. :)
Dijk you just cannot use dike in English if that word can mean both the earth thing that keeps the water out AND a ditch with water in it, make up your mind!
Many words related to types of water:
Gracht, vaart, singel, sloot, kreek, plas, schorren en slikken. Some of our waters can be translated properly pond for vijver is fine, canal for kanaal is fine, but I still find it weird that our old cities apparently are full of canals (a gracht isn't the same thing). A ditch for sloot…nah a ditch is een greppel. And I'm not even going to start thinking about schorren en slikken, I'll just explain what they are: a schor is a piece of buitendijks land (if you have no name for polder and dijk then there certainly is no word for buitendijks) that is flooded only around springtide (springtij), a slik is similar, but this is flooded every tide. They are normally mentioned together schorren en slikken since together they form unique areas with specific plants.
BTW when borrowing sluis and boei English messed up turning these in weirdly pronounced and weirdly spelled sluice and buoy. For the first one, luckily there's the proper alternative: lock. :)
Edit: the BTW part isn't actually right, see talideon's post.
Sluice was actually borrowed by English from Old French ('escluse'). Chances are that Dutch borrowed the word from Old French too. The spelling of the Dutch world probably influenced that of the English word, as many Dutch printers were employed in England when the printing press spread there.
Nobody's quite sure if buoy came from Dutch or Old French. Convincing arguments can be made that either the Old French 'buie' or the Middle Dutch 'boeye' were borrowed, as both words shared a common meaning and sound, and both came from the same root.
Yeah, there's loads of words related to water in Dutch. I think it's a little bit like how certain northern languages have multiple words for ' snow' which we don't have... It's all related to surroundings, and water simply plays a huge role in Dutch culture and history.
That's not true. Danish and Norwegian (or least Danish) has/have only one word. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eskimo_words_for_snow
I wasn't really talking about Danish and Norwegian, more about sami and eskimo languages, though your linked article suggests that I was still wrong about there being multiple words for it. I guess I was misinformed, so thank you for pointing it out!
Although to be fair, it seems that it largely depends on what your definition of a 'word' is, and according to this article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/there-really-are-50-eskimo-words-for-snow/2013/01/14/e0e3f4e0-59a0-11e2-beee-6e38f5215402_story.html) ( I don't know how credible it is) it seems that there are multiple words for snow. Anyway, I just used it as an example for how culture can influence language, which I think is the case with the many Dutch words for water :)
Well no not exactly... A bromfiets is litterally a growling bike. A snorfiets is a purring bike. "Snor" as in the verb "snorren" > purring (as cats do), which is less loud than growling. A bromfiets is limited to 45km/h, a snorfiets is limited to 25 km/h. :)
You're right about bromfiets and snorfiets. Maybe nice to mention in this context is bromsnor (growling moustache), this is a slightly offensive word for a policeman (not too bad, but saying it to a policeman's face can result in a fine if he's not in a very good mood). This clearly stems from the time when all policemen still had moustaches. It's used mostly when complaining about a policeman (not to policewomen because of the moustache reference) about smaller things.
My boyfriend says the closest definition he can personally think of for gezellig is pleasant. As it's used positively and saying things like an atmosphere, a chat, a home can be pleasant.
My favourite Dutch words so far are: banaan (I have an obsession with bananas), paraplu, schatje, geweldig, verschrikkelijk and the phrase: wat jammer!
Then you must also like the idiom gaan met die banaan! (go with that banana!), which means: let's start the thing, let's go ahead, basically setting things in motion (both literally and figuratively).
Btw I know the words I listed have translations. I just wanted to tell people my favourite Dutch words anyway :P
thanks for sharing! These kinds of posts are not only really useful, but fun as well.
I think one of my favourite Dutch words must be woordenschatje (I really like to call my vocbulary a little word treasure!!) I also think these words have a fitting sound to them: herfstweer, vlinder, zebrapad and I like the expression het regent pijpenstelen
- they all have English translations but they are still super nice!
The first is my favourite. And for some reason, my favourite word is schildpad / schildpadden (turtle/turtles) because whenever I see it it I imagine a child in bubblewrap and cardboard.
We have loads more in the shield toad, ice bear category:
- zeehond = sea dog = seal
- zeekoe = sea cow = Sirenia/sea cow
- walvis = shore fish = whale (it's not a fish, but if I'm not mistaken it was named because it was 'some kind of fish that sometimes washes ashore')
- hangbuikzwijn = haning belly swine/pig = pot-bellied pig (I didn't know it was similar in English until I looked it up)
- vogelbekdier = bird beak animal = platypus
- stinkdier = stink animal = skunk
- wasbeer = wash bear = raccoon (lots of languages have this one)
- paddenstoel = toad chair = mushroom (I'm not too sure about this one, because there are different meanings for pad, but at least it sounds like it)
my circus history teacher (Dutch) had a funny way of speaking English, talking about such as "nosehorns". Sort of understandable for me, as in Norwegian it is called the same ("nesehorn"), but for the French/Spanish speaking part of my class it was sometimes quite confusing when he spoke dinglish.
Well, it was mainly about horses to be honest. Because I am doing a bachelor of circus arts, which is actually also the reason why I am in the Netherlands :)
maybe i am wrong but according to wikipedia those are the same. Anyway we acknowledge there are many different types and those have each their own name. For example the common mushroom is called a champignon [which is a French loanword I believe]. However the all encompassing name is paddenstoel.
You might like bubblewrap as well, that's bubbeltjesplastic. :) Another one I really like is piepschuip, literally peep (the noise) and foam, because it is a foam and it makes a peeeeep sound. Next to that there is also a correct acroym: PS = polystyreen = piepschuim.
That's my favourite as well, particularly because I do it a lot ;). I also simply like the word ' ijsbeer', because it literally means ' ice bear' which is quite funny :)
Just a small correction: Your last bit should say 'Ik hou ook van Nederlandse woorden!'. The location of 'ook' should be directly after the finite verb ( the main verb).
E.g. ' Ik loop ook naar school' =I also walk to school.
'Ik loop ook snel naar school' = I also walk to school quickly
'Ik heb ook naar school gelopen' = I have also walked to school.
In a verb that is automatically comes with a preposition ( e.g., houden van) and which gets split up, the 'ook' should still be directly after the verb- part, so it's
'Hij houdt ook van katten' = He also loves cats.
However, if you want to place emphasis then the ' ook' part comes directly to the front of the sentence.
E.g 'Ook ik loop naar school' = I,too, walk to school
'Ook ik hou van Nederlandse woorden' = I,too, love Dutch words.
If you don't have a 'main' verb in it and you're not emphasizing, then 'ook' goes after the subject.
E.g. ' Jij ook een fijne verjaardag' = You too a happy birthday!
' Jij ook een koekje?' = You also a cookie? (as in: Do you also want a cookie?)
I hope I explained that accurately, I am not a linguist myself but I'm still interested in helping people understand the language a little better :)
Jij ook nog veel succes met leren! ( you too much luck with learning!)
thank you VERY much. I appreciate all the detail you went into to really make this clearer for me. I LOVE learning Dutch and I love how helpful you are.
Good question! Actually, it would be ' ik ook!'.
Here, the last rule I mentioned applies which is that when there is no finite verb and you're not emphasising, the ' ook' part goes after the subject ( which is ' ik' in this case).
The reason why 'me' is translated as ' ik' here is a bit complicated. Normally, ' me' should be translated as ' mij' (emphasized) or ' me' ( non- emphasized), as it is an indirect object pronoun. (e.g. ' Hij slaat me' = He hits me)
However, in the case of ' me too' , ' me' is often used incorrectly to serve as subject pronoun, when it actually should be ' I too' .
For example, when someone says ' I am hungry' , you should be saying ' I too', as this is short for ' I am hungry too' . Yet everyone says ' Me too' , which would be short for ' me is hungry too' .
In Dutch, they don't make this mistake. So when someone says ' Ik heb honger' (= I am hungry), you answer ' Ik ook!' (= I too!)
In some cases, ' me' in ' me too' is used correctly, which is when it serves as an indirect object pronoun. However, in those cases, ' me' is translated normally to 'mij/me'.
E.g. someone says ' This present is from me' and you say ' me too!' ( this present is from me too!). Here, ' me too' is correct.
In Dutch, this would be said like:
-'Dit cadeau komt van mij' ( this present comes from me.)
-'Ook van mij!' ( Literally: also from me!, which is pretty much the same as ' me too' ) ( the reason ' ook' is at the beginning of the sentence here, is because it is emphasized)
I apologize if I made it a little too confusing :). Just remember: If it is an indirect object pronoun, ' me' should be ' mij/ me' ( which is pretty much always). However, if English is being inconsistent again and you're using ' me' as personal/subject pronoun, then it is still 'ik' in Dutch.
If you have any other questions, you can always ask! :)
I don't think I'd put too much credence in that article on Grammarphobia. It reads like prescriptivist tosh, to be frank. The "I too" thing is a hangover of 18th and 19th century prescriptivism, which is the very reason why "I too" sounds stiff and stuffy to the ears of most English speakers. You're best of going with "so do I" or "me too".
When in doubt, it's best to use the oblique case.
Yes, I realize that and I am definitely not trying to say that people are wrong in using 'me too'. I just wanted to try to explain why in Dutch it's often ' ik ook' even when in English it's ' me too', as I can imagine it can be quite confusing.
This explanation ( that it depends on whether it is an object or subject pronoun) simply made the most sense to me, and at least in Dutch it does depend whether you're talking about yourself as a subject or an object. I didn't mean to come across as trying to tell people to use ' I too' or anything, I just tried to make it a little less confusing :)
Such a good and detailed answer to what seemed to be such a little question :) I am going to add you to my friends list so that I can keep in touch with you. Bedankt!
I really wish that Duolingo didn't place limits on reply depths!
Don't worry, I didn't think you were trying to tell people to use 'I too'. Prescriptivist articles are just one of my bête noires! The thing is that the oblique pronouns (me, him, her, &c.) in English behave more like French's disjunctive pronouns (moi, toi, &c.) than their Dutch equivalent.
I haven't learned enough Dutch yet to answer this question, but my guess is that with Dutch, the subject pronouns are the ones used in isolation, in elliptical constructions, &c., whereas English went down the route of using the oblique pronouns for the same tasks. Is my guess correct?
I learned this one as "ik ook" but given the look I was given when I dared to utter this in Rotterdam, I am guessing this may be incorrect.
No, you were correct! No idea why they gave you funny looks, but it's always good to not be afraid to use the language, even if you may make some mistakes! :)
We were ordering poffertjes, and I was so terrified of making my order that after my boyfriend had ordered, and the waitress looked at me, all I could manage was a scared little, "ik ook?"
It could very well just be, because it was one of those standard grumpy Dutch waiters. :) Native speakers usually use voor mij ook graag (for me too please) or voor mij hetzelfde alstublieft (for me the same please) in this situation.
Mag ik een ijsje (can I have an ice cream), Ik ook (me too) > 100% normal to use it.
Doet u mij maar een biefstuk/Voor mij een biefstuk ('do' for me a steak/for me a steak), Ik ook > Sounds a bit odd, but you will be understood.
Thank you so much! My favourite word is maybe the one of the first words that I learned "Lekker". I know that English translation exists, but for me the sound of this word causes more feelings of espelically something yummy, mmmmmm Lekker!
Thank you so much for making this course, I am having so much fun learning!
Wel: this one is SUPER underrated in these discussions. Wel literally means the opposite of "not". It exists to emphasize a positive state. "Ik eet geen vlees" "Ik eet WEL vlees". Translated: "I do not eat meat" "I DO eat meat".
Lusten: to like food such that if you do not 'lust' it you really dislike it.
Poot: the leg of an animal.
Koukleum: someone who is very sensitive for cold temperatures or someone who is freezing. Koukleumen = to be freezing.
Ruit: Glass part of a window.
Not sure about this one but Weemoed: a mix of melancholy, boredom, and sometimes longing for better things, sometimes nostalgia.
Uitwaaien (literally: blow out): going outside to stand in the wind to clear one`s thoughts is my favourite word in this category.
Irish English has a close equivalent of 'gezellig' in the form of 'craic', though it primarily covers people and events, not places, so you wouldn't describe a house as 'good craic' unless you were talking about the people within it.
Hey cool! Thanks for that fascinating insight. :) BTW Irish people are so fun. I'm so glad tons of them visit San Diego.
Ever hear of Kriek beer? (cherry)
Maybe they should market a brand of Craic Kriek in Ireland, haha.
Yup, I've heard of it. I'm in Brussels once a year for FOSDEM, which is one of the reasons I'm learning Dutch: English and French are fine but I'd like to at least get to a conversational level in Dutch so as to not feel like an ass when interacting with Flemish people.
I'm not a fan of Kriek myself as I don't like cherries. Some of my friends are though. Belgium has plenty of great beers, so it's hard to say I'm missing anything. :-)
Kriek is the Dutch name for a sour type of cherry. A cherry is either kers (normal kind) or kriek (sour kind). Kriek beer is a Belgian invention of course. Belle-vue, Boon and Lindemans are some famous Belgian kriek beers. I never tried the Irish one, might be worth a try (but I guess there's not much reason to import that to the Netherlands, since there are so many Belgian ones around). :)
LOL @talideon yeah not feeling like an ass is always a plus! Especially around those often phlegmatic Flemish.
I don't really see them that way, just wanted to do some alliteration.
Hmm, I don't know if it's exactly the same. I mean literally it does mean ' to call off', but I always thought that ' to call off' is more for just canceling an event in general. As in, you could 'call off' a parade or you could ' call off' a wedding. Whereas 'afbellen' to me describes the actual act of calling someone to cancel plans that you made with someone. Like, to call someone to tell them you're not going to the wedding because you're sick, rather than to actually cancel a wedding.
I think that ' call off' would be better translated to ' afblazen' (literally: to blow off), or perhaps to 'annuleren' (to annul) or ' schrappen', since those three can actually be used for events. Please correct me if I'm wrong! :)
One difficult to translate word I just thought of: graag.
Yes, you can translate it to "I'd love to" or "Yes please". But that gets more difficult for graag of niet…you just need to much words for that in English. :)
Gracht, sloot, wetering, vliet, tocht, singel, vaart and kanaal all translate to "canal". But they're not synonyms. A gracht is a different entity from a sloot, wetering, etc. It would not occur to a Dutch person that they are the same thing. I suppose it's very hard to learn what these words mean, if you haven't seen them often, haven't swam in them, haven't rowed your boat through them. Amsterdam doesn't have that many canals. I has mostly grachten, and a singel, some sloten and tochten, and vaarten. It also has Oudezijds Achterburgwal, which is a gracht really. It has Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, which used to be a gracht but is a street now. So from now on, you guys learning Dutch here, we'll take ten lingots off your account if you ever say "Amsterdam has canals" again.
THANKS! I love Dutch people, have a good friend from Den Haag, and find the language charming. :) Though they are to be highly commended for being soo0o0o0o0o0o0 good at English, I still wanna learn Dutch.
Thanks for the giggles. Saving this link for my Dutch notes. :D
BTW, I know it's a newer word and not as common in every region, but your description of Gezellig reminded me of "chill"...every single bit of the description. If any English learners reading this are planning on coming to the U.S., at least, they can definitely work on the many uses of "chill" and look super fluent. :)
~</sub>THANKS A LOT!<sub> ~</sub>~
P.S. OK I admit it, Dutch is just a warm up to learning Frisian later to be ready if Doutzen is ever single again! LOL.
I think the Norwegian Word "koselig" is the exact same as "gezellig". Like one time I had this English presentation at School and I was like: "What on Earth is "koselig" in English?"
I know nothing about the Norwegian koselig, but I do know that the German Gesellig (which clearly has the same root as Dutch gezellig) is roughly the same as the Dutch word, but it only contains a part of the meanings the Dutch gezellig has. So simply by looking at the spelling I suspect this Norwegian word also has the same origin and it could definitely mean roughly the same thing (and it does judging by your post), but this doesn't mean it will contain all the meanings, subtlety and feeling that go with the Dutch gezellig.
I can just imagine a villain in an English movie saying sarcastically "Lovely.." But in the Dutch version they should replace it with "Gellezig."
You are right (except for your spelling of gezellig), lovely, cosy, having a good time, homely can all mean gezellig, depending on the context. A lovely looking girl, does not look gezellig. Having a great time reading a great book on your own is not gezellig…but you can do that same thing on your own in a room that is gezellig. You can have one friend over and it can be gezellig. If you are on a trip with your football team having a great time messing around, having fun, being a bit rough, this normally isn't regarded as gezellig. But with your same team playing a card game (when people settle down a bit more), usually is gezellig.
And you could probably write a book about when something is gezellig or not, but well if you just make sure to create the right circumstances so you can use it a lot, that's the best way to learn what gezellig is. :)
I am from the Netherlands, I honestly love to see people learning my language :D. I am learning japanese at the moment. If you have any problems with the dutch grammar feel free to ask me :)