A Few of My Favorite Words

My posts often have a Dutch word (maybe two) related the topic of the blog entry. However, I thought I would share some of my favorite Dutch words and expressions.

Knuffel – This word means hug. I love the way this word sounds as well as the meaning. (Yes, you pronounce the k too.) Who doesn’t love hugs or knuffels?

Knoflook – Knoflook is one of the first Dutch words I learned. If you know Mike and me well it should not surprise you that this word means garlic. Knoflook isn’t just lekker or tasty, it is also fun to say.

Vogel or Vogeltje – Vogel is a bird and vogeltje is a baby bird. I love the way the Dutch pronounce v’s – part f part v. Follow the Dutch v with the Dutch g (which is very visceral since it sounds like you are getting ready to spit) and you have a word that is fascinating to hear.

Gefeliciteerd met je/uw verjaardag – If we translate this loosely you are wishing someone a “Happy Birthday” but the literal translation is “congratulations on your birthday.” You say this to the birthday person and say “gefeliciteerd” or “congratulations” to their friends and family. Why congratulations? I am not sure but it does feel good to be congratulated every so often. So why not your birthday?

Het was gezellig – This phrase, and gezellig in particular, doesn’t have a precise translation into English. It is used to describe spending time in great company and/or doing something enjoyable. Google translates gezellig as cozy. Bab.la Woordenboek translates it as cozy, close, intimate, homy, and sociable. Wikipedia says it is cosy or quaint. All of these definitions talk around the meaning but never hit it straight on. The best way to describe it is this: Imagine you just had an amazing experience that you are describing to a friend. You can’t quite express all the positive feelings you have about the experience so you finish your story with a lame “well you just had to be there.” You-just-had-to-be-there is “het was gezellig.”

Ik spreek een beetje Nederlands

This week I took a 3 day intensive Dutch language course, Learn Dutch Fast. It was amazing, a little intimidating, fun, and very helpful. During my 3 months in the Netherlands, I picked up a few words and phrases but not enough to create a dialogue with anyone. I knew I wanted to learn Dutch and after my first three months here, I realized how much easier my life would be.

Happily, a good friend also wanted to learn Dutch. So we decided to take a private immersion class together. This was my first time ever learning by immersion so I was a bit nervous but also very excited. We made amazing progress during the class and understood more than I had expected. I am now sold on immersion learning.

We learned while cooking, walking in the woods, shopping, and playing with the instructor’s dog. It was fun but challenging.

I have not reached native speaker level but I am able to ask questions, understand shopkeepers, and waiters (for the most part). I am looking forward to using my new Dutch and building my vocabulary.

class materials