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Word of the Day: Saampjes, together

It is a truth universally acknowledged that two people very much in love desire nothing more than to be together. All they want is: Us Two! In Dutch: SAAMPJES! Elmar (who suggested the word DUTJE for yesterday’s post) lives in Voorburg and his beloved Claudia in Mexico. The other day he posted the attached cartoon on Facebook and he was overjoyed to tell his friends that soon they will be SAMEN, together. SAAMPJES and forever happy!


This is great, but why, I wonder, are the Dutch so fond of diminutives? I may be Dutch but it is a mystery to me. Why does it always have to be SAAMPJES and cannot it just be SAMEN? SCHATJE instead of SCHAT. BIERTJE, PILSJE, BOOMPJE, HUISJE, BEESTJE, POESJE, MANNETJE, VROUWTJE…? I understand KOEKJE and GEBAKJE because they are smaller in size than KOEK and GEBAK (cake). But LIEFJE, sweetie-pie… yuk!

Word of the Day: nopjes (over the moon)

NOPJES could mean many things in Dutch. The word comes from the noun NOP, that’s obvious. The Van Dale Dictionary has the following translations: ‘burl’ (relieved surface in textile), ‘polka dot’ (circular embellishment), ‘bump’ (protuberance on the road), ‘stud’ (on the sole of a sports shoe), ‘tuft’ (of mattress). And last but not least: NOPJES are a famous brand of hard and salt Dutch liquorice.

Word of the Day: geluk (luck, happiness)

This is not one of your lucky days. You’re late, you hop on your bike and race to work. You realize you forgot your rain gear. Cloudburst, of course. Freezing gusts of wind and rain soaking you through and through. You arrive at the office and the first question they throw at you is: ‘Have you passed your exam fully clothed swimming or did you take a shower?’ You pour yourself a cup of freshly made coffee, take your familiar place behind the prehistoric computer, start on the Facebook word of today and, strangely enough, a warm sense of happiness overpowers you.

Word of the Day: gezin (family)

Is it ‘DE’ or ‘HET’ GEZIN? What do you think? Answer: HET GEZIN. Most words with two syllables starting with ‘ge’ are HET-words. GELUK, happiness. GEBOUW, building. GEVOEL, feeling. GELOOF, faith. GEDOE, ado, fuss. GEDICHT, poem,.. They are all HET!

Word of the Day: gezellig (enjoyable, pleasant, entertaining, sociable, companionable, convivial)

This cosiest of all Dutch words can be attached to almost any other word: koffie, film, man, tafel, vuur… They can all be GEZELLIG. When in Dutch company make sure you utter the word GEZELLIG at least ten times. Eventually they’ll find you very GEZELLIG and you’re sure to be invited to the next ‘GEZELLIGE party’. It speaks in your favour if you vary GEZELLIG with ‘aangenaam’, ‘genoeglijk’ or ‘knus’.

Word of the Day: levensverhaal (life story, vertellen part 3)

Today’s musing on a Dutch word is my hundredth VERHAAL (story) since I begun in December 2012. It also happens to be my sixtieth birthday. So my LEVENSVERHAAL (life story) counts sixty years so far, over half a million hours in total. Were I to tell the story of my life in detail, I would need a lot of leisure time. How many hours would it take? Where would I begin? At the hour of my birth? The hour of my conception? The hour my parents met? A tall order.

Word of the Day: zingen (to sing)

Sometime in the nineties I was cycling home with my daughter Yolande, then five years old. It was a wet and cold day in spring and there was a lot of wind, just like now. We passed the new buildings of the Haagse Hogeschool behind station Hollands Spoor and were stopped by music and this wonderful voice. A young woman with long wet hair was dancing and singing on a small podium with very few people around. Yet she was performing as if there were thousands of people in the audience. We stood there in amazement, admiring the incredible energy and vocal presence. Heart warming.

Word of the Day: zwijgen (to be silent)

What exactly makes our species human? Wisdom? Hardly. Maybe our ability to communicate with one another in so many different ways. We can speak, sing, laugh, whisper, cry and we can choose to remain silent. Humans are the only creatures that can decide to communicate by refraining from any other form of communication. This week’s discussion is about human utterances or the lack of them. ZWIJGEN, to be silent. Let’s start with Ludwig Wittgenstein’s adage that concluded last week’s discussion.

Word of the Day: ouwehoer (bullshitter)

Not yet being able to pronounce the ‘r’, I said: ‘Ouwehoel niet zo!’ It was the very first coherent phrase I uttered as a toddler, almost sixty years ago. True or not, it’s an anecdote that my mother and grandmother used to repeat over and over again at thousands of chatty coffee times. The ‘OUWEHOER’ I admonished was my grandfather, the kind professional children’s photographer of the Anna Paulownastraat in The Hague. A couple of years later he died of lung cancer because he had smoked for so many years, especially when he was at work in his dark room.