Many foreigners find the Dutch language difficult and challenging to get their heads around. They often struggle witg the strange West Germanic pronunciation with the “g” sound that nobody can even repeat correctly. I cannot even recall how many times my name Agness sounded like Ahnes when a Dutch person spoke it out loud.
I personally enjoy listening as well as speaking Dutch on a regular basis. To me, it is much easier to learn as I know English and basic German. I do still struggle with those double vowels, the soft and hard “g”, the “ch” combination and Dutch articles “de” and “het” (it is a real nightmare if you ask me), but I am slowly getting there.
Since Dutch and English share so many words, it is very easy for Dutch speakers who speak English to make funny, and sometimes awkward, mistakes that will make locals laugh out loud. These are called “false friends”, as their spelling in both languages are the same, but their meaning is completely different. For example, English “brief” is Dutch “letter”, English “dapper” is Dutch “brave” or English “boom” can be easily mistaken with the Dutch “tree”. Therefore, be careful when using the word “wet” as it means “law” in Dutch and it has clearly nothing to do with water.
The funniest are Dutch sayings that have been badly translated or used in English. Some of them are very hilarious, some odd and others just silly. I have chosen a top 10 that, for some reasons, are now engraved in my memory.
Never shot is always miss.
Love on the first face or I'm over my ears in love.
You fell with your nose in the butter.
Press your moustache.
One swallow doesn’t make summer.
Riding around in the city on my mustache bike.
My will is wet.
I can not make chocolate out of it.
We will see where the ship strands.
Can I get the map of the dessert?
I have noticed that it is very typical for the Dutch to translate their thoughts into English, literally word for word. Dutchisms, as those above, can be really amusing for both, English and Dutch speakers. However, imagine how disastrous and embarrassing it could be for someone who is giving a presentation or a lecture to an international audience!