Today I learnt a new Dutch word. The word I have learnt is Schuimbad, which in English means bubble bath.
I can not really claim that it is a word that will greatly expand my Dutch communication skills. It is not really a word that gets much use in normal everyday banter. There is not an easy way to start a conversation with a stranger about bubble bath with out getting a few worried looks in return. A sentence like, “Ik vind schuimbad mooi,” (“I think bubble bath is beautiful”) is more likely to course everyone to give me more room on the tram then it is to impress them with the way I am attempting to master their language.
Despite any odd reactions I might receive, it is still a new Dutch word I now understand. I am able to take some pride in this small language victory. However, I am still aware of the slight taint on this triumph when I recall how I learnt this new word; my flat mate told me.
There is no shame in this itself since he is much better at talking Dutch then I am (something about having a Dutch girlfriend and no choice) but he taught me this new word by asking the question, “Do you realize you have been buying bubble bath instead of shower gel?” and then pointing out what the big bright letters on the front of the bottle meant.
I had to reply that I did not realize this and I had not for the past year, during which I had been buying the same stuff. We don’t even have a bath. We only have a shower and now I know why I was always filling ours with so many suds.
Mistaking bubble bath for shower gel is not really a big problem but it makes me wonder if there are other areas where my Dutch language skills might have let me down while visiting my local super market.
Could it explain the reason why my shaving cream tastes like it would go well with strawberries and ice cream or why my spray on deodorant tends to sting and kills all insects in the vicinity dead in mid air or why my favourite brand of biscuits keeps my hair silky and smooth and my digestive system worm free?
It might be a good thing that I’ve just signed up for a new Dutch course.