“Ugh. I just can’t seem to speak right English today.”
“You seem to be doing fine to me.”
“You’re just say that. English is easy for you since it’s your first language.”
“Yeah but just because I’m English does not mean I’m good at speaking it.”
“But you should at least be better at speaking English than you can Dutch.”
“Not necessarily. English or Dutch. I’ll freely mess up both. I don’t limit my linguistic errors to just one language.”
“Patat zonder alstublieft,” I asked the girl behind the counter of the train station snack bar.
There was a brief look of confusion that flashed across her face.
“Patat zonder,” she repeated in a way that suggested the words felt strange coming out of her mouth.
It was a reaction I had become use to. The Dutch are deeply confused by anyone who would want to order fries without mayonnaise. I think they sometimes forget that the two can exist independently of each other.
Since I didn’t do anything to correct my order (even after the rather obvious pause she had left) she turned around and started to scoop up some fries. A moment later she turned around again with them in a little cardboard container. I reached out to take them but she had already automatically moved towards the mayonnaise dispenser, either out of habit or out of the strong belief that I really did want or needed mayonnaise.
“Wilt u mayonaise?” she asked, her hand hovering just above the mayonnaise plunger.
Could she really have forgotten my mayonnaise free request already? Was she blocking it out? Was she unable to mental process it? Or was she simply waiting for me to correct my earlier mistake? It was one of the strangest Mexican stand offs I have ever been in.
“Nee dank u,” I replied quickly (and slightly too loudly) before it was too late. I was sure she had been about to push the plunger.
The girl looked deeply confused by my response. Why didn’t I want mayonnaise? Didn’t I like it? Was that kind of thing even possible? Luckily for me she managed to come to terms with my decision and slowly put my fries up on the counter.
I handed over the money, surprised that she didn’t automatically charge me the extra 20 cents for mayonnaise in her confusion.
“Fijne avond,” she wished me as she returned my change.
“Fijne avond,” I wished her, hoping that she would recover from this traumatic experience.
As I turned around and started to walk away with my mayonnaise free fries I heard the next person in the queue step up to the counter and place their order.
“Patat met alstublieft.”
Balance was restored once again.
If you look up the word ‘dus’ in a Dutch-to-English language book it will tell you that it translates into the word ‘so’. However, this is a terrible over simplification. The word ‘dus’ is used by the Dutch to communicate a wide range of thoughts, feels, emotions, insights, desires and meanings that are not covered by this simple translation. Today we will look at a few of its many meanings:
The Short Dus (Direct)
The short ‘dus’ communicates anger. It is often used to punctuate the end of an argument and declare ones self the winner. It is supposed to be the final word that crushes the opponent and signal that it is either time to storm out of the room or slam down the phone.
Meaning: This argument is over! I win!
Example: I’m right. You’re wrong. Plus you’re an a**hole. Dus!
The Short Dus (Indirect)
This version of the short ‘dus’ is similar to the previous but it is used when re-telling the argument to a friend who did not witness the original fight. It still communicates anger but it is not directed at the listener (even though it might sometimes feel like it).
Meaning: I won that argument!
Possible Additional Meaning: And you better agree with me!
Example: “I was right. He was wrong and he’s an a**hole. Dus!”
The Giggle Dus:
This ‘dus’ is friendly and often accompanied by a small chuckle. It is used when delivering the punch line of a joke or a funny story that the user finds amusing. Sometimes it is even replaces the punch line to leave the outcome up to the listeners imagination. It can also be used as a reaction to hearing something amusing.
Meaning: This is (or that was) really funny.
Example: “He left his computer logged into facebook… Dus. Hehe.”
The Drawn Out Dussssss (Confused)
If the Dutch are confused about something they will often use the drawn out ‘dus’ to communicate this. It signals that farther information is required and is often used in a moment of silence when something has not been fully explained yet. The longer the dus, the greater the confusion.
Meaning: And? What happens (or happened) next?
The Drawn Out Dussssss (Sarcastic)
The sarcastic version of the drawn out ‘dus’ is used when the idiot you are trying to explain something to is too stupid to understand. If you are tired of repeating yourself simply replace the instructions or explanation you would normally give with the drawn out ‘dus’ instead.
Meaning: Could you be more stupid?
Example: It’s so easy a child could do it. Dusssssssss *roll eyes*
The Contemplative Dus:
When the outcome or result of an action is unknown the contemplative ‘dus’ is often used. It is a slightly submissive ‘dus’ that suggests no farther action will be taken by the person using it, either because there are no options left to them or they simply cannot be bothered. It is sometimes accompanied by a shrug.
Meaning: We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.
Example: “I’ve done everything I can… Dus.” *shoulder shrug*
The Reactionary Dus:
When something surprising or unexpected happens the reactive ‘dus’ is often used. It can convey genuine surprise or be used in a sarcastic manner when someone is not following the Dutch ‘doe normaal’ rule.
Meaning: That was (or is) weird.
Do you know any other uses of the word dus that should be included?
I have come to the conclusion that the Dutch have a very special ability. It might even be possible to call it a super power. I am not sure if it is a skill that they are born with or one that they develop naturally over time but it is something that I have encountered a lot.
Every time I try to talk Dutch with an unfamiliar Dutch person they are able to detect, analyse and identify my accent before I’ve even fully formed the first syllable of the first word of my sentence. It is entirely possible that the Dutch can hear my accent as I breathe.
“Ohhh. You,re English,” they will often interject as I stand there with my mouth open having only muttered the sound ‘umm’ or ‘err’ or simply having coughed. They even managed to say it with a hint of surprise that suggests they should have identified my accent sooner (before I entered the room for example).
It is either a form of super human hearing that allows the Dutch to do this or they have just had a lot of practise hearing people mangle their difficult language beyond recognition. The second option seems more likely because it is probably something that happens so often that they have been able to fine tune their accent detection instincts. Maybe they have even learnt to identify certain mistakes with certain countries (thus aiding the identification process).
“Oh. You pronounces the ‘ei’ sound as ‘aaa’. That’s a classic English mistake.”
Wherever I go in Holland it is almost impossible to say anything in Dutch without being immediately identified. This must make life very stressful for any spies who are trying to lay low in the Lowlands. They must be in constant fear of detection just from having to have a casual conversation with a passer by.
Even at an early age Dutch children seem to have this special power. Have you ever attempted to speak Dutch to a small Dutch child? It rarely goes as you expect. In my experience they might not be able to identify your accent yet and they might not even be able to fully understand that there is such a thing as a non-Dutch person but they will know something is wrong. They know it just by hearing your attempts to speak the language that, they themselves, have not even fully mastered yet. Then they will just stare at you in an awkward silence (awkward for you, not for them) as if waiting for you to stop being strange and start making sense.
No one can hold up to that kind of pressure for long and if you are a spy there is no dignity in having your cover blown by a three year old.
I should have seen this coming. It was obvious really. I could only claim to be ‘Invading Holland’ for so long before Holland decided to retaliate. I guess declaring myself the new king of Holland was the final straw. Now Holland has invaded England.
The Dutch store Hema has opened its doors in London and things will never be the same again!
This might sound like an overreaction at first but anyone who has visited one of their stores in Holland will know how dangerous shopping in one of them can be. They sell everything and at low prices too. You might go in only intending to buy some printer ink but before you know what is happening you’ve exited the store again having just bought; some new oven gloves, a usb stick, a packet of Stroopwafels, an orange t-shirt (for next King’s Day), some storage boxes, an inflatable rookworst (that can not be eaten), super glue, a Jip and Janneke story book and a new bicycle bell. You didn’t even by the printer ink you went in to buy because why would you need to when you were just able to by a new Hema printer so cheaply. Hema is a very dangerous store.
And who knows what affect the influence of Hema will have upon the English culture.
1) Will Queen Elizabeth start having Stroopwafels with her afternoon tea?
2) Will the British public start whistling the famous Hema whistle everywhere they go, unable to get it out of their heads?
3) Will the iconic British red buses, telephone boxes and letter boxes all be repainted orange?
4) Will Hyde Park and Regents Park be closed to the public and converted into tulip fields?
5) Will Jip and Janneke start making appearances on Children’s BBC? Will Miffy suddenly change her name to Nijntje?
6) Will Big Ben be converted into a windmill?
7) Will London be taken over by bicycles?
8) Will the Themes river be reclassified as a canal and will people start skating on it if it ever freezes over?
9) Will England expand its landmass by flattening all of its hills and using them to reclaim the sea around it?
Only time will tell.