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Word of the day: geinig (funny, pretty neat)

Eugenie mentioned GEINIG (funny) when she commented on the article about LEUK (nice) and Jet thought HILARISCH (hilarious) one of the ugliest words ever. Let’s have a look at these words that you can use as variants of LEUK (nice).

GEINIG is an informal adjective and adverb derived from the noun GEIN which means ‘fun’, ‘merriment’, ‘glee’ or ‘high jinks’. Nowadays people from all walks of life will say ‘GEINIG’ when they are looking for a word that is slightly different from the bland word LEUK. Especially snobbish people will sometimes try to make it even funnier by giving it a more vulgar pronunciation. Instead of [‘ɣɛinəɣ] they’ll say [‘ɣɛːnəɣ]. \Gèèènig\! Funny, hardly…

The noun GEIN is originally Yiddish, as you may have guessed. Yiddish ‘chein’ meaning ‘joke’ or ‘pleasure’ goes back to Hebrew ‘ḥējn’ or ‘ḥēn’ (favour, sweetness, attractiveness). GEIN entered the Dutch language in the late nineteenth century. A joker is often called a ‘geinponem’ (‘ponem’ is Yiddish for ‘face’).

Most Dutch people associate GEIN with Amsterdam and its (originally) working-class neighbourhood area of the Jordaan. GEINIG was originally thieves’ slang (bargoens) whereas HILARISCH belonged to the upper crust of society.

I agree with Jet that HILARISCH (hilarious) can be a contamination of the Dutch linguistic atmosphere. It’s another favourite of snobbish people, especially when they pronounce it emphasizing and stretching the middle syllable: ‘hiláááá…risch’. ‘Heeft Rutte dat echt gezegd? Hilááárisch!’ (Did Rutte really say that? Hilarious!) Funny, hardly…

According to Nicoline van der Sijs’ Chronological Dictionary its noun, HILARITEIT, was recorded in 1650 for the first time in the Dutch language. So it’s quite old. It was derived from French ‘hilarité’ which meant ‘quiet joy’ and later ‘outburst of joy’.

What, do you think, is the superlative of HILARISCH?

When an adjective ends in i+sibilant (written as –isch) the Dutch usually do not use a ‘st’ or ‘t’ because HILARISCHT is so hard to pronounce. Instead they put MEEST in front of it.

So here are two television commercials that I think are very funny. Both of them are spots for Centraal Beheer Achmea, which is the largest Dutch insurance company situated in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. Its campaign of TV commercials has been very successful for over fifteen years now.

In the humoristic spots, which are usually without dialogue, something goes terribly wrong. They always end with the catchphrase ‘Even Apeldoorn bellen’ (Just phone Apeldoorn). This catchphrase is so popular that people will say ‘Even Apeldoorn bellen’ instead of ‘oops’.

The first of the two spots selected by me, was shown on television in the period before Anouk’s performance at the Eurovision Songfestival in May 2013 when she reached ninth place (the highest place since 1999) with her wonderful song ‘Birds’. The famous Dutch Hague-born singer has a certain reputation. When you see the commercial, you’ll understand what this reputation is.

The second spot will send cold shivers along your spine.

Which one is GEINIGST or MEEST HILARISCH? I’m really curious.