What the heck is Dunglish?

So you’ve stumbled across my blog, perhaps you weren’t sure what people spoke in Holland (Hollandy? Netherlandish?). Or you have literally translated a dutch word into english and are wondering where the funny looks are coming from…

questions answers signage

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Well wonder no more, Dunglish is actually an amalgamation of the english language and the dutch, a smorgsabord (not a dutch word) if you like. It’s used for the mistakes that the dutch people make when translating things into english (which actually isn’t that often, seen as the Dutch have been voted for the 500th year in a row ‘best speaker of english other than english people themselves’-don’t believe me check here), or more commonly when literal translations go WRONG.


A Prime Example

It is said that when the dutch foreign minister Joseph Luns (a keen horse breeder) met JFK and was asked about his hobbies, he replied ‘I fok horses’


JFK naturally replied ‘pardon?’ with which Luns exclaimed ‘Yes! Horses!!” Paarden being the dutch word for horses and fok meaning to breed.

Of course there are many more examples, what with the word order being totally backwards in dutch or forwards depending which way you look at it (the verb goes on the end of the sentence, I mean how bloody odd is that!).


It’s not just mistakes

Having lived here in NL for four years now I like to think that dunglish isn’t just about making mistakes with translations but actually the peppering of the dutch language with  english connotations and vice versa. How lovely that for many bilinguals living here we get to choose from the vocabulary of two languages instead of one. Though I wouldn’t  recommend telling a waiter in the UK that the meal you just enjoyed was like an angel peeing on your tongue.




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