As someone who is learning to speak Dutch I have learned to accept that there will be times when my attempts to speak the language will not go quite as I had plan and that there are other times when it will ‘really’ not go as I had plan. One such example happened recently during a dinner party my girlfriend and I were hosting for two friends, Marjolein and Marije. During the dinner we spoke Dutch and I like to think I did a fairly good job of keeping up with the conversation and taking part. However… After dinner I made an unplanned slip up which I am constantly reminded about.
After I had helped my girlfriend take the dirty dishes back to the kitchen she asked me, “Wil je de tafel schoonmaken.”
I understood, nodded to her request to clean the table and walked back into the front room armed with a cleaning cloth.
Upon approaching the table Marjolein informed me, “Ik heb het gedaan.”
I thanked her for informing me that she had already cleaned the table and returned to the kitchen with unused cleaning cloth in hand.
“Dat was snel,” my girlfriend commented upon my quick return to the kitchen.
I grinned happily like a kid about to show off his new Dutch language skills and announced loudly, “Marjolein heb ik gedaan.”
The grin lasted 1.5 seconds and ended around the time my girlfriend suddenly shouted, “What?!”
I quickly ran the words that had just come out of my mouth back through my brain and realized that I had just announced that I had ‘done’ Marjolein.
My attempts to quickly correct my mistake by shouting, “Nee, de tafel, de tafel.” (table) probably added to the imagery by implying that I had done her on the table rather then it being the table that she had ‘done’ (in a non-sexual sense).
“That was quick,” my girlfriend simply repeated again, this time in English with a smirk. The shocked look she had given me upon my false confession had been fake of course because (like I would have done) she was planning to milk my language slip up for its entire comic worth. She followed it with a request to her friends that they stop ‘doing’ her boyfriend.
I have not been allowed to forget this language slip up since and I always have to be careful at dinner parties that I don’t accidentally ‘do’ anyone linguistically.