20 Dutch Phrases That Are Impossible to Translate into English

Dutch phrases

20 Dutch Phrases That Are Impossible to Translate into English

20 Dutch Phrases That Are Impossible to Translate into English

(Last Updated On: December 6, 2023)
The World of Translation:

In order to overcome the communication barrier caused by differences in languages, the Dutch language, along with other languages worldwide, has relied on literal translation as a means of facilitating understanding. This process aids Dutch people, as well as English speakers and speakers of other languages, to comprehend content in their native language by providing an English translation or a translation into their respective native languages. Translation serves as a bridge for spiritual anguish caused by the inability to communicate effectively due to foreign language barriers. Additionally, language organization and the efforts of language organizations have played a pivotal role in enabling global businesses to expand their reach.

This innovative approach has revolutionized the global landscape, allowing businesses to transcend boundaries and connect with consumers worldwide. Through translation, companies have been able to ensure their products and services are accessible to diverse demographics, necessitating adaptation, including changing brand names to align with various cultural contexts. This globalization of brands and services was unimaginable centuries ago. However, in conjunction with translation, technological advancements and improved communication methods have propelled companies to attain unprecedented success, turning once-fanciful aspirations into achievable realities.

Dutch phrases

Translation plays a pivotal role in bridging linguistic gaps, enabling Dutch people to relocate, pursue education at esteemed universities, secure positions in renowned corporations, and carve their desired paths in life. It fosters mutual comprehension among individuals from disparate corners of the globe, despite their apparent dissimilarities. This capability even facilitates diplomatic dialogues between nations that were once adversaries, fostering understanding and cooperation. However, despite its invaluable utility, translation encounters constraints. Each language boasts idioms and expressions that defy accurate translation; they retain an essence unattainable in other tongues. Certain cultural intricacies embedded within phrases resist interpretation for those unacquainted with the source language’s cultural context.

Dutch Phrases That Are Impossible to Translate into English:

Due to being a West Germanic Language, Dutch is a close relative of English. Dutch phrases and expressions often share similarities with English, facilitating comprehension between the two languages for native speakers. Including the people who speak it as their second language, Dutch has 29 million speakers in the world. It also has a daughter language with the name of Afrikaans, which is considered a derivative of Dutch. It is spoken in South Africa and boasts 16 million speakers. Afrikaans and Dutch are both mutually intelligible despite having a few differences in vocabulary and pronunciation. Although the former evolved from the latter, it developed its own distinct identity and linguistic traits over time. Various language organizations actively promote and preserve both the Dutch and English languages, recognizing their global significance and native speaker communities.

Like all other tongues, Dutch has a few words and phrases that can never be translated into English accurately, simply because they are rooted in the Dutch culture. It is just like each country having its own slangs. Here are the 20 Dutch words and phrases that are impossible to translate into English:

  1. Hè hè:

This may look like the sheepish laugh in English but it has a completely different meaning in Dutch. It is used to express satisfaction or relief after a long day of work.

 

  1. Voorpret:

What’s the English word for excitement you feel before an event starts? Oh wait, English doesn’t have a word to describe that feeling but Dutch does and that’s Voorpret.

 

  1. Gezellig:

Getting good vibes feels? Then you describe them by saying gezellig in Dutch but you can’t translate it into English.

 

  1. Lekker:

Every language has that one (or multiple) word that has many meanings and lekker is that word in Dutch. It can mean anything from tasty to like to nice but it cannot be translated without context.

 

  1. Gedogen:

Dutch take a lenient stance on many things and this trait of theirs is referred to as gedogen.

 

  1. Afbellen:

You know the long explanations you have to give to cancel plans over the phone, Dutch use afbellen to that.

 

  1. IJsberen:

Non-Dutch speakers will never get this word because its closest translation is polarbearing and that is pretty confusing.

 

  1. Uitzieken:

Dutch doctors don’t like to pamper their patients and say uitzieken to mean the patient should wait out the sickness.

 

  1. Uitbuiken:

All of us do uitbuiken, which is to let our bellies out after eating, but only the Dutch has a word to describe the act.

 

  1. Uitwaaien:

Want to get fresh air? Say uitwaaien when in the Netherlands and people will understand what you mean.

  1. Ben je van de trap gevallen?

If someone says this to you, you would think they are asking you if you fell from the stairs but in reality, they will be referring to your drastic haircut.

 

  1. Toiletbril:

No, the word does not mean toilet glasses. It refers to the toilet seats but who knows why the Dutch call it that.

 

  1. Spijkerbroek:

Don’t go to a fashion store and ask for spijkerbroek. It does not mean nail paint, well, it does but that’s not what it is used for. In the Netherlands, it means pants.

 

  1. Luipaard:

Some words like Luipaard are straight up funny because they translate to things like lazy horse but what they really mean is leopard.

 

  1. Tuinslang:

At night, everything in the garden looks like a snake. That’s what the people of Netherlands meant when they named hoses, Tuinslang, which means garden snake.

 

  1. Met de mond vol tanden staan:

The meaning “to sit with your mouth full of teeth” is very creepy but in truth, the phrase simply means to be speechless.

 

  1. Praten over koetjes en kalfjes:

We know you aren’t talking about little cows and calves, everyone knows that. The phrase means to talk about nothing important.

 

  1. Wat heb ik nou aan mijn fiets hangen?

You have got nothing hanging on your bike. The phrase means what’s going on now.

 

  1. We zullen dat varkentje wel even wassen:

Think you can get things handled? Then use this phrase to tell people you will get the piglet washed.

 

  1. Nu breekt mijn klomp!

When you are amazed by something in the Netherlands, you say it like your wooden shoe is missing; At least that’s how the Dutch say it.

Now that you know the phrases and words that are hard to translate but are also super funny and interesting, why not incorporate them into your vocabulary and see how it goes.

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