Trying To Learn Dutch By Playing Scrabble

Learn Dutch

During my time in Holland I have taken a few Dutch courses in an attempt to learn the local language. During one of these courses the teacher decided it would be fun for the class to play scrabble. Obviously playing scrabble in English would not have been very educational so we were required to play the game in Dutch.

Trying to learn a new language is already very difficult at the best of times but trying to come up with words you don’t know from a new language you don’t know while using a random selection of letters seemed almost impossible.

However, when we started the game I somehow managed to identify a Dutch word hidden within my random assortment of letters. Unfortunately for me it was not a word I felt very comfortable putting down.

During my first couple of turns I tried to ignore it in the hope that a better word would come up but as I accumulated more letters it was still the only word I could identify. When the Dutch teacher started to insist that I must have a word “by now” I decided there was nothing for it but to put the word down.


The teacher (who was female) paused. A few students sniggered.

“Can you say the word?” The teacher asked a few seconds later, trying to keep it educational.

“Umm… Hoer.” I had to answer embarrassingly.

“And do you know what it means in English?” She asked.

There was another awkward pause and some more giggles.

My brain could have picked any manner of politically correct ways of describing the words meaning but it had decided that I was on my own and the first thing that jumped out of my mouth was, “whore?”

Damn you brain.

“Prostitute! I mean prostitute!” I quickly corrected myself before it sounded like I was calling the teacher names.

Another awkward pause. More giggling.

Without saying a word the teacher took a look at the other letters I had available. “You can make it into a different word you know.” She informed me after some thought.

“Oh.” I expressed as I looked at my letters and tried to see it for myself or any other word that would get me out of this embarrassing situation before I permanently labeled myself as the guy with the one track mind.

After a few more awkward moments she decided to put me out of my misery and show me by putting the letters down herself.

(A group of prostitutes)

“It’s a higher letter score.” She informed me.

Later I realized I could have put down horen (meaning to hear something) but she was right. It was not worth as much as a group of prostitutes.

20 responses to “Trying To Learn Dutch By Playing Scrabble”

  1. Super Pi says:

    LOL! I want to be Stuart in my next life. Everyday is full of surprises :-D

  2. Charlie's Tribe says:

    You’re hilarious, Invader Stu!

  3. Alison says:

    At least she only tried to point out how you could get a bigger score, rather than the less embarrassing word option. Reminds me of a high school science class when someone said orgasm instead of organism.

  4. kiki says:

    You forgot to mention the part about how after you put that word down, the remaining letters you had spelled out syphilis!

  5. Lopa says:

    loved reading this post, any expat living in foreign land can relate to those embarrassing moments ! :D

  6. thamarai says:

    :) If I am not wrong, ‘hoe’ also means something, like a spade or shovel or something…just in case, in the future! :P

  7. The girlfriend says:

    hoe = how in english, but not enough points for scrabble Im afraid ;P

  8. Invader Stu says:

    Super Pi – You might have to wait a while. I plan to be me for a long time :p

    Charlie’s Tribe – Thank you

    Alison – I’ve done things like that before as well like a time I meant to say “incompetent fools” (I was doing some mock-up dialogue recording for work because we did not have real actors yet) but said “impotent fools” by mistake.

    kiki – How did you know?

    Lopa – They do seem to happen a lot to us don’t they :)

    thamarai – I think that also means something in English :p

    The girlfriend – And that’s why I used prostitutes… no wait… I didn’t mean that how it sounded :p

  9. The girlfriend says:

    *raising eyebrow*

  10. A Touch of Dutch says:

    This is hilarious!
    And I love how you end it with “horen” not being worth as much as a group of “hoeren.” As always, a good laugh!

  11. MissNeriss says:

    Laugh out loud funny. The prospect of playing scrabble in any language has me quaking in my boots.

    I loved your teacher’s reaction. Just one of those little things I love about this place.

  12. Wendi says:

    I don’t think there’s an English word for group of prostitutes, is there? I mean, besides sorority?

  13. VallyP says:

    Oh your teacher was sooooo cool! Great post again Stu. Actually Dutch is good for scrabble in than sense. So many words in English that are not ‘countable’ can be made plural in Dutch. Definitely extrac scrabble value!

  14. Invader Stu says:

    A Touch of Dutch – Thank you :)

    MissNeriss – That was the same reaction I had to playing.

    Wendi – Or presidential aids :p

    VallyP – It does seem like it gives an unfair advantage to the Dutch in any international scrabble championships

  15. Keith says:

    I cant even play scabble in english; mind you I’m petty good if allowed to use Gibberish (I skeak it flueintly)

  16. Invader Stu says:

    Keith – So you have played it in Dutch then? :p

    *Ducks from Dutch people*

  17. suus says:

    “hoe` re – ren (hoereerde, h. gehoereerd) zich veelvuldig overgeven aan seksuele uitspattingen.” Even higher score ;)

    Gotta love scrabble

  18. Gez says:

    Also, next time you play, don’t forget you can diminutize most Dutch nouns (+(t)je), then pluralize that too!

  19. VallyP says:

    Hmm yes, but it seems if you’re like me, you add extra letters to English words anyway…extrac? I really should check my comments before clicking on ‘say it’ ;-P

  20. Just a Plane Ride Away says:

    HA! Good one. I remember my Dutch teacher told us to watch out for those words ;-)

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