Friday, April 6, 2012

We speaken Nengels :)

I just read an article in the newspapers about the use of English by Dutch-speakers (in Netherlands and Belgium). It was funny if you look at some of the sentence structures, so funny that I practially roll off the chair in stitches. Coming from a English-speaking (and Mandarin-speaking) background, I do understand some of the pitfalls and common mistakes made by Dutch-speakers, which when spoken, may seem totally incomprehensible to native English speakers. 

I have been learning the Dutch language for a good 3 years, I must admit I'm still not very good at it, but at least I can read the newspapers and listen to the radio with close to 80-90% being translated without fail to English (my brain does it automatically, don't ask me how it does it). The remaining 10-20% is where I sometimes get stunned for words.

Here are some good examples of common mistakes of Nederlands-Engels, otherwise also known as Nengels or Dunglish. For more examples, you can look up this website.

I have hunger (Ik heb honger) = I am hungry.

I have thirst (Ik heb dorst) = I am thirsty.

I believe nothing from it (Ik geloof er niets van) = I don't believe what you are saying.

I am there not good from (Ik ben er niet goed van) = I am upset.

I am there not crazy from (Ik ben er niet gek van) = I am not crazy about it.

I can there not anymore against (Ik kan er niet meer tegen) = I can't stand it anymore.

I am a bit in the war (Ik ben een beetje in de war) = I am a little bit confused.

My hair is in the war (Mijn haar is in de war) = I am having a bad hair day.

I will learn you (Ik zal je leren) =  I will teach you.

I come here to solicit (Ik kom hier om te solliciteren) = I come here for interview.

There is something on the hand (Er is iets aan de hand) = There is something going on.

I am holding you in the holes (Ik houd je in de gaatjes) = I am watching you.

That hits on nothing (Dat klopt niet) = That doesn't make sense.

Everything good? And with the children? Yes yes, it goes well (Alles goed? En met de kinderen? Ja ja, het gaat wel.)

And how is it for the rest? (En hoe is het voor de rest?) = How are you doing?

I have to do with you (ik heb te doen met jou) = I feel your pain.

I especially like this phrase "I am holding you in the holes". Look, big brother is watching you! :) So after this quick crash course, do you understand Nengels or Dunglish by now?


  1. LOL! I agree with you about the literal translation from English to Dutch. The common ones I have heard are: "I have hunger", "I will learn you", "I have thirst", "I believe nothing from it", but I have not heard the one phrase that you like. Maybe I should be more attentive the next time I'm with a group of Nengels speakers. LOL!

    Happy Easter to you and your family, Miss B!

  2. I just heard a new nengels phrase, courtesy of a friend, who commented on the resemblance of my son to my hubby, and my daughter to me.

    She said "so father so son, so mother so daughter", this is literally translated from the dutch phrase "zo vader zo zoon" and "zo moeder zo dochter", when the correct phrase in English should be "like father like son" and "like mother like daughter". :)

  3. It's strange but many years ago when I was young in London people often used the phrase 'in the war' (or wars) and 'my hair is in the war' would have sounded a perfectly normal thing to say. 'I will learn you' was also very common, although it was normally used when kids were naughty - the parents would shout 'I'll learn you' meaning 'I'll teach you a lesson you won't forget'. The phrase 'I have to do with you' wouldn't have been understood but, personally, I think it's a lovely phrase. I think I might start using it.


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