The Dutch love animals: cows, dogs, horses, cats, snakes, rats, goldfish, budgies, bunnies, chickens. They love them so much that they use them to express all kinds of human characteristics. This week I am going to explore several of these animals, starting with the commonest bird, DE KIP, the chicken. An estimated 52 billion clucking specimina of Gallus gallus domesticus populate this planet.
Originally the word KIP, chicken was used for its BROEDSEL, the sitting of a ‘hen’, the eggs. The verb BROEDEN means to brood or to hatch chicks. A ‘chick’ in Dutch is a KUIKEN, a word which reminds you immediately of ‘chicken’. A ‘hen’ is a HEN and a HAAN is a ‘cock’. The sounds of chickens are ‘toktoktoktok’ and the cock cries out ‘kukeleku!’. The word KIP was and is an onomatopoeic bird call: ‘kiepkiepkiepkiep’.
In Dutch there are many expressions with KIP. Someone who is KIPPIG is short-sighted and needs a BRIL (glasses) or LENZEN (lenses). Is the Gallus bird short-sighted? No. Een KIP is niet KIPPIG.
I read somewhere that a chicken has panoramic vision of about 300°, and possible binocular vision of 26°. And yet, the Dutch associate the KIP with poor sight. Is it because they keep their heads close to the ground when they search for worms and seeds?
Another expression for a person with poor sight is: BLINDE KIP (blind chicken). To speak like a KIP ZONDER KOP (headless chicken) means ‘to talk through one’s hat’. And ‘ik zie geen KIP’ is another way of saying that there is no living soul in sight.
‘Ik voel me KIPLEKKER’ literally means ‘to feel as good as a chicken’ but is an expression equivalent to English ‘feeling fit as a fiddle’ or ‘right as rain’ or ‘in the pink’.
An average Dutchman eats 18,2 kilo chicken per year and the Dutch poultry famers spent several millions of euro’s each year to promote this bland type of meat.
In my opinion the stupidest and most annoying slogan ever invented is: KIP, het meest veelzijdige stukje vlees, KIP! (Chicken, the most versatile piece of meat, chicken!) Which KIP ZONDER KOP (rambling idiot) invented the phrase: ‘the most versatile piece of meat’? And what does it mean? Versatile in what way, pray?
When I am on my bike this stupid melody sometimes invades my mind and I find myself inadvertently singing all possible variations. I’ll continue until it has vanished into thin air. Instead of KIP I sing HOND, het meest veelzijdige stukje vlees, HOND! Or KAT…KAT! Or RAT… RAT! Or KOE… KOE! Or MENS…MENS! Try it and you’ll see how absurd this slogan is.
There is a sketch by Dutch comedian Jeroen van Koningsbrugge (1973) from 2006 which is an extremely funny parody of an actor trying to perform this slogan in a commercial. Watch it, it is only two minutes or so. Excellent exercise material for students of Dutch. And if you want to know more about this slogan or any other Dutch phrase join one of our courses. You know where to find us.