Een huishouden van Jan Steen

17th century Dutch painter Jan Steen is known for depicting ordinary people having a good time in somewhat chaotic (household) settings. A well known Dutch saying is based on his paintings: when a room or situation is described as ‘een huishouden van Jan Steen’ (a ‘Jan Steen household’) it means it is messy 🙂

The painting in the photo shows the title ‘Soo D oude Songen, Soo Pijpen De jonge’ which is actually the text on the piece of paper nailed to the wall in upper right corner. In other words: ‘the young imitate the behaviour of the elders’. Here the verb ‘pijpen’ means ‘to play the flute’ (which is the old-fashioned meaning of the verb; the modern meaning is in a way similar however completely different 😉 ).

Een huishouden van Jan Steen

Photo taken on Eerste Jan Steenstraat – Amsterdam

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The ‘examentijd’ (final exams period) has come to an end for secondary school pupils in the Netherlands. The ‘examentijd’ roughly takes place in May and June. If one graduates, it is customary to raise the Dutch flag together with the school bag. The photo shows that alternative flags are possible, however it is the first time I encounter one 🙂 (In this case the flag of the city of Amsterdam.)

Een Amsterdamse vlag hangt uit met tas na slagen voor het examen

Photo taken on Cornelis Anthoniszstraat – Amsterdam

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Hier is gevestigt

The first official publication on Dutch spelling dates from 1804. In the 17th century different forms of spelling of the same word were still allowed. For example, taking the past participle of the verb ‘vestigen’ (to establish), one could write ‘gevestigt’ or ‘gevestigd’. Although both are identical in pronunciation, the latter form became the standard because it aligns with the spelling (and pronunciation) of the adjective ‘gevestigde’.

Spelling a past participle correctly in Dutch is a challenge to some Dutch people, especially when it sounds the same as the ‘first person present tense finite verb’, e.g. “Het is gebeurd” or “Het gebeurt”. Here one frequently encounters both the incorrect “Het is gebeurt” and “Het gebeurd”.

Overkapping met teks 'Hier is gevestigt'

Photo taken on Rusland – Amsterdam

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Nationale Borreldag

Today it is ‘Nationale Borreldag’ in the Netherlands. But of course we ‘borrel’ whenever we can, preferably catching some sunshine on an outdoor terrace. Along with the ‘borrel’ go ‘hapjes’: bites/snacks.

This photo (that I took last Monday on Amsterdam’s Schinkelhaven terrace) shows some of the popular options and has a funny spelling error. A ‘stengel’ is a ‘cane’ or ‘stalk’ (of a plant) and is used in the word ‘kaasstengel’ (a snack in the form of cheese (‘kaas’) flavoured sticks). A ‘tengel’ however is slang for a hand. So a mother could snap at her child: “En nu blijf je met je tengels van de kaasstengels af!”

For more info on ‘borrel’ check out Borrelpraat.

Borrelmenu op terras met drankjes en hapjes

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Meer dan en net zo veel als

For reasons unknown to me, the DWOTD Facebook page received a few hundred likes over the past 2 months. Not bad for an inactive page 😉 However, over 3000 likes is something to celebrate. Bedankt iedereen! And here is a Dutch lesson on two common mistakes Dutch people make. I will explain things with two example sentences.

1. De Facebookpagina van DWOTD heeft meer dan 3000 likes! Hoera!
(The DWOTD Facebook page has more than 3000 likes! Yay!!)

Dutch nouns
Dutch nouns are always written as one single word, even if the noun is a compound. Therefore it is not ‘Facebook pagina’ but ‘Facebookpagina’. Separating nouns in Dutch seems to occur due to influence of the English language on the Dutch language. So don’t forget: all nouns are written as one word in Dutch. When this leads to a word that may be difficult to read or pronounce, you can insert a hyphen where it may be helpful.

Meer dan
You will often hear ‘meer als’ instead of ‘meer dan’. Or ‘groter als’ instead of ‘groter dan’ (‘bigger than’). When a comparative adjective is used and you are comparing one thing with another, in Dutch the comparative adjective is followed by ‘dan’ and not ‘als’. This as opposed to German, where one would use ‘als’.
We do use ‘als’, but then in the following construct:

2. Deze boom is twee keer zo groot als die boom.
(This tree is twice as big as that tree.)

… zo … als
When you use a comparison of the form ‘… as … as’ in Dutch the form becomes ‘… zo … als‘.

Funny thing is that some people have become overcautious to not make mistakes with als and dan, and this then leads to hypercorrection. The other day I found an example in the NRC newspaper, one of the leading newspapers in the Netherlands. See the photo. Can you find the mistake?

Fragment uit NRC met gebruik van 'dan' in plaats van 'als'

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