It’s nothing to do with me
[Dutch phrase of the week]
Literally, "mijn naam is haas" translates to "my name is hare"… It is a translation of the German expression "Mein Name ist Hase", see Extra. The expression is used – often jestingly and apologetically – to say that you don’t know anything about something or that something has nothing to do with you.
– "Welke prutser is verantwoordelijk voor deze flutpresentatie?" – "Mijn naam is haas."
("Which screw-up is responsible for this rubbish presentation?" – "It’s nothing to do with me.")
– "Ik snap dat Frank bonje zoekt, maar mijn naam is haas."
("I understand that Frank’s looking to pick a fight, but it’s nothing to do with me.")
– "Wie heeft de magnetron zo vies gemaakt?" – "Mijn naam is haas."
("Who messed up the microwave like that?" – "It’s nothing to do with me.")
– "Als een haas er vandoor gaan": to be off like a shot.
– "Ik weet van niks": I don’t know anything about it. Lit.: I know of nothing.
– "Wie heeft er zo geroddeld over Lisa?" – "Ik weet van niks…"
("Who has spread such rumours about Lisa?" – "I don’t know anything about that…")
– Naam: name [noun] [de naam, de namen].
– "Hoe is uw naam?" – "Sanders."
("What’s your name?" – "Sanders". Lit.: "How is your name?")
– Haas: hare [noun] [de haas, de hazen].
– Haasje-over: leap-frog (children’s game) [noun] [het haasje-over,<no plural>].
"Mijn naam is haas" is translated from the German expression "Mein Name ist Hase" and dates back to a historical event. In 1855, a foreign student had shot his opponent at a duel. The student fled to France to escape prosecution. On his way, he met the German law student Victor Hase in Heidelberg. In order to pass the French-German border in Straßburg, the refugee needed identification papers. He asked Hase, who had a student ID, for help. Now, abusing a student ID was prohibited by the law, but Hase was willing to cooperate. He ‘lost’ is student ID, the refugee ‘found’ it, and was able to cross the border. Then things went wrong. After his arrival in France, the refugee lost the student ID, but unfortunately, it turned up again. Hase was called to account in the university’s court of law. To save himself, he used a juridical formula: Mein Name ist Hase, ich verneine die Generalfragen, ich weiss von nichts (My name is Hase, I deny the general questions, I know of nothing). The expression soon spread in the short version across the whole of Germany, and also reached the Netherlands.
<From: van Dale – Groot Uitdrukkingen woordenboek>
A commonly used English equivalent (in the UK at least) comes from the US TV series Hogan’s Heroes – “I know nothing!”. Ironically, this is said in a German accent as the character who says it is Sergeant Schultz. I doubt the script writers did this deliberately with the above story in mind. The full quote was originally “I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!” but later shortened to just “I know nothing!”. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogan's_Heroes for the full details.