If you read Belgium for dummies, then you now know that some Belgians speak Flemish. Flemish is a variant of the Dutch language. Not sure what that sounds like? Take your time to listen to this song performed by Gorki.
I absolutely love my language and to be honest, I do miss speaking Flemish. There might be some people here in the North Country speaking a form of Dutch, but I haven’t met them yet. As a word lover, I love to play with words and it is always easier in your native language. But, as is probably true with every language, we do have some words that you had better not translate literally.
Boterham – Butter Ham
Een boterham is a sandwich or a slice of bread. The word boter which means butter, might come from the past where they only used butter as a spread. The ham is pretty unclear to me, too.
Handschoenen – Hand Shoes
Handschoenen might be better known as gloves. Why do we call them shoes? I have no idea. Perhaps we do because they are a little bit like shoes, but for your hands instead of your feet.
Luipaard- Lazy horse
A luipaard is not really a lazy horse. In English you might know it as a leopard.
Toiletbril – Toilet seat
‘Did you put the toilet bril down?’, is a question you might hear in Belgium. It looks a little bit – with a lot of imagination- like glasses. That is probably why we call it a bril instead of a seat.
Wasbeer – Laundry bear
A cute raccoon in Dutch is a wasbeer. Was means laundry and beer is a bear, so basically we call them laundry bears. It would be handy if he really did my laundry.
Feestneus – Party nose
‘Vergeet je feestneus niet.’ or in English ‘Do not forget your party nose.’ When you translate this word literally it does not make sense anymore. The word actually means real party noses, such as a clown nose or other crazy party accessory.
Wielrennen – Wheel running
If you’re doing bicycle races in English, then you’re running with your wheel in Dutch.
Oorlog – ear war
Oorlog is a terrible world which no one likes to hear about. But if you translate the word to English, it becomes a silly word. The word Oor means ear so we call war an ear war. Not so bad anymore, ha?
Klokhuis – Apple core
The inside of an apple is called a core in English. In Dutch we call it a Klokhuis, which literally means a clock house. According to one of my language history books, the name might be because it looks a bit like an old bell tower.
Spiegel ei – Mirror Egg
A fried egg is called a spiegel ei because they look like little mirrors when you’re preparing them. I do not see the mirror to be honest, but the person who gave the name to the egg must have seen one.
All Illustrations are owned and created by Laura Frame, collected on amusing Dutch words or on Facebook. Melissa Callaert is working as an intern at North Country Public Radio for the Spring 2016 semester.