Tuesday 27 July 2021

A Dictionary of Dutchness


The Dutch language can puzzle at the best of times but throw in an acronym or abbreviation and you’re suddenly faced with a riddle, wrapped in a mystery and deep-fried in breadcrumbs.

What hope have we uninitiated English speakers got if we can’t tell the difference between a BOB and a TSB? Enter A Dictionary of Dutchness.

All those quirky Dutchisms that have caught us off guard, drawn blank faces and LOL’d (laughed at loud) at our expense, have been meticulously rounded up by the editors at DutchNews.nl and compiled into a indispensable 400-word paperback that’s as entertaining as it is digestible. The Dutch language demystified, brilliant.

It’s not just newcomers to the Netherlands who’ll find a friend in this unofficial survival guide. What Dutch person wouldn’t care to know what the FNV (trade union federation) stood for or if the CBP is doing what they’re paid to do (protect data)?

Some acronyms make perfect sense. Why struggle through Eerste Hulp Bij OngelukkenŽ and risk passing out – when EHBO (first-aid kit) just trips off the tongue? Then there’s BOB. Poor BOB. He’s that reliable friend who sticks to one beer so he can drive everyone home after a night out.

And BTW, wouldn’t it be nice to know how big your Hollandse Nieuwe were this year? (That’s the mid-May catch of young herring). That just leaves us with GVB, a word that suffers from a split personality, standing for both a golf proficiency certificate and the municipal transport authorities.

The list goes on and on, but you’ll easily find yourself going along with it. I certainly did! A Dictionary of Dutchness is a great addition to anybody’s bookshelf. Short and sweet, IYKWIM (if you know what I mean).

Out of print


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