Monday, July 9, 2012

Dunglish #1: famous examples

Wikipedia explains:
Dunglish (a portmanteau of Dutch and English) or Dutch English are the mistakes native Dutch speakers make when speaking English.
The Dutch and English languages are in contact on multiple fronts such as politics and culture. Being closely related, they are mutually easy to learn, but the closeness also makes for some interesting mistakes, especially in the realms of pronunciation, syntax and word meaning. The result is known as Dunglish, or in Dutch, steenkolenengels ("coal English"), supposedly a reference to the rudimentary English employed by 20th-century Dutch port workers when talking to English coal ship sailors. Here are some famous examples for your amusement.

  • While discussing expenditure in the European Union, Dutch politician Frits Bolkestein famously referred to economic prospects as "golden showers", unaware of the term's sexual connotation.
  • Using a literal translation of the Dutch word ondernemer, which means "entrepreneur", former Dutch prime-minister Joop den Uyl once remarked that "the Dutch are a nation of undertakers".
  • The Dutch word goedendag can mean both "hello" and "goodbye". At a meeting between former Dutch prime-minister Gerbrandy and Winston Churchill, Gerbrandy greeted Churchill thus: "Goodbye!" Churchill responded: "This is the shortest meeting I have ever had."
  • In a conversation with John F. Kennedy, Dutch foreign minister Joseph Luns told the American President about his hobby: "I fok horses". (The Dutch verb fokken means "to breed"). Kennedy replied, "Pardon?", a word which Luns then mistook as the Dutch word for horses. He responded enthusiastically, "Yes, paarden!"
  • The Dutch word eventueel means "potentially", not "eventually". This mistake caused a row between the Scottish and Belgian football associations when the Belgian football association invited delegates from various associations over for the "eventual qualification of the Belgian national football team" before the beginning of the play-offs against Scotland. While the Scottish federation accused the Belgians of sheer arrogance, the Belgian association had actually meant to hold the drink after a "possible qualification".
  • Former Dutch ambassador and prime minister Dries van Agt supposedly once said "I can stand my little man", a direct translation of ik kan mijn mannetje staan, which means "I can stand up for myself".

BONUS: Eneco, a Dutch energy company, have an ad using Dunglish for comedic effect. It's not as funny if you don't speak Dutch, but it's still worth a watch.



More Dunglish on the web:
Dunglish on Wikipedia
A Dunglish blog

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