Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dutch expressions

During our weekly Sunday family Skype call this week, my dad started complaining about the many issues he's having with his network cable at home.  I stated, "it must be a Monday morning cable."  It just came out.  Like it was hardwired in me after living in Holland for two years.  I've begun saying things that make no sense to people of my own nationality... even my family.  So logically his response to my statement was: "what?"

In efforts to narrow the gap that I've now created between myself and other non-Dutch speakers, or those who aren't familiar with the Dutch culture, I've decided to write a list of Dutch expressions and their meanings.  That way, when I spew out another Dutch phrase like word vomit, the person at the other end of the conversation won't respond with: "huh?"

"a Monday morning [bike]" - a bike, or item, that breaks down constantly.  Because it was obviously made on Monday morning when the person who built it was either hung over, not yet awake, or really didn't want to be at work after the weekend.

"You never know how a cow catches the hare" - it's hard to know how to attain something seemingly impossible, but there's always a solution.

"Knocking down the front door to get in" - going straight to the point, without saying the initial hello.

" (S)He won't walk into 7 ditches at one time" - don't worry, (s)he won't get into too much trouble, (s)he'll be OK.

"Butter with the fish" - pay in one lump sum, immediate action.

"One man's death is another man's bread."  - someone always benefits when something goes wrong.

"Tying a cat to bacon" - leading someone into temptation.

"Hearing the thunder in Cologne" - being stupefied, flabbergasted.

Last year there was a commercial on TV stating a number of Dutch phrases in English. It had the Dutch rolling with laughter, although it made no sense to anyone who doesn't speak Dutch, me included.  Thanks to the help of my colleagues, I finally understand the meaning behind them all.

"The windmills have not laid us wind eggs" - it's paid for itself.  (In Dutch, wind eggs are empty eggs).

"Just beat my advice in the wind" - ignore the advice I gave you.

"Getting the wind from the front" - having a difficult time, like you're biking against the wind - or in the context of the commercial, the boy is having a hard time with his mom yelling at him.

"Smell an hour in the wind" - someone/something smelling so badly you can smell it even if you walked an hour away in the direction the wind is blowing.

"From the wind, we can not live" - just like the English saying, "man can not live by bread alone."


Jamie said...

This is hilarious! I love fun word phrases from other cultures. I think my favorite is the cow and hare one. I will have to start using that.

Krista said...

My favorite was the 7 ditches! Some of them kind of made sence but then others there was no way I would have know what they meant without the explanation!

kelley said...

I think I'm going to try to integrate "tying a cat to bacon" into American vernacular. I have a talk coming up in church. It seems a fitting expression to come out over the pulpit.