Words

The Dutch are always going on about their reputation for being bot (blunt), but it still comes as quite a shock to discover that Breezersletje – literally Breezer slut – is now an official word.


Yes, Breezersletje is included in the new edition of the Van Dale dictionary. It’s in fine company: kutmarokkanen (literally c*** Moroccans), a very popular way of referring to yobbish youths, entered its hallowed pages a couple of years ago.
Indeed, Dutch is a remarkable language when it comes to creating new words. Aso – which is short for ‘asociaal’ or ‘antisocial’ – is a lovely and very useful prefix which can be added to all sorts of things.
The Van Dale acknowledges two this year: asobak – a charming name for SUVs – those massive 4x4s which are too wide to drive through Amsterdam’s narrow streets and push all and sundry off the road. And of course there is aso-tv – television programmes made about antisocial families or teenagers. Definitely lowest common denominator stuff.
Of course, if they can’t invent their own words, the Dutch are equally happy to borrow them. And, as British writer Simon Kuper pointed out in yesterday’s Volkskrant supplement on ‘norms and values’, the politest words used by the straight-talking Dutch are sorry and pardon – both of which were imported from abroad.