nice job, great work, doing well! [Dutch phrase of the week]
“Goed bezig” is actually a shortened form of “<subject> <finite form of “zijn”> goed bezig”: “you are doing well”.
“Bezig” actually translates to “busy” and “bezig zijn” means “to be
in the act of”. So “goed bezig” means that whatever it is that you are
doing, you are doing it well, or you are doing well for yourself. You
can also use it to encourage somebody, a bit like the “nice job!” that
I frequently hear when I’m in the U.S.
Mind that “goed bezig” is used informally. You will also hear
“lekker bezig” which kind of has the same meaning but is mainly used
ironically, see the last example.
– “Heb jij ook gemerkt dat Edyta al veel beter Nederlands spreekt?” – “Ja man, ze is echt goed bezig!”
(“Have you also noticed that Edyta’s Dutch has already improved?” –
“Yeah man, she is really doing well!” Lit. “…that Edyta already
speaks Dutch a lot better?”)
– “Goed bezig mannen!”
(“Nice job guys! / (You are) doing well guys!”)
– “Wist je al dat Pepijn en Anneloes een huis hebben gekocht?” – “Nee nog niet. Maar die zijn dus goed bezig!”
(“Did you know that Pepijn and Anneloes have bought a house?” – “No not
yet. I understand that they are doing well!” Note that “maar” normally
translates to “but” and “dus” to “thus/hence”, but in this case the
“maar <subject> dus” is best translated with “I understand”.)
– “Frank is net begonnen met zijn nieuwe baan en heeft nu al promotie gemaakt!” – “Zo hee, die is goed bezig!”
(“Frank has just started his new job and now he has already been promoted!” – “Wow, he is doing well for himself!” Literally “… has made promotion”.)
– “Er komt weer een reorganisatie aan!” – “Nou, het management is weer lekker bezig!”)
(“There is another reorganization coming!” – “<ironically:> My, the management at its best again!”)
In the south (Belgium) this little phrase often means the exact opposite, in an informal context. In that respect it’s much like the English phrase ‘Nice one!’. Like in this sentence:
“Hij liet zijn wachtwoord rondslingeren en nu is z’n site gehacked. Goed bezig!” means:
“He left his password lying around, and now his site got hacked. Nice one!”
Many of the words/sentences on DWOTD have different meanings south and north of the border, it could be interesting to explore that.
TOON Don’t confuse the people with Flemish.
For all you foreigners who tend to learn/ speak Dutch please read the following :
In Belgium 6 million people speak “Dutch”. as well. In fact the majority communicates by using a local Dutch dialect named “Flemish”. To make it even more complicated there exist among this dialect different “sub-dialects” as well.
Flemish IS NOT DUTCH!!!!!!!…if you
start speaking Flemish while being in Amsterdam….people assume you are off
your head seriously.
Having said that, it’s time to show a few examples :
Asking someome’s name
Dutch: Hoe heet jij ?
Flemish: Oe noemt gij ?
Saying you shall go punch someone.
Dutch: Straks krijg je een knal
voor je kop.
Flemish: Seffens krijgt ge een lap.
Saying you’ll beat someone up:
Dutch: Ik geef je slaag/ een pak
Flemish: Ik geef u klop.
Saying you dislike someone
Dutch : je bent een vervelend iemand.
Flemish: gij zijt enen ambetanterik.
I think the examples speak for themself. I shall save this comment on my pc since the last time the moderators were so kind to delete my previous cultural lesson !!!!!!
Dutchie, thanks for the info. That’s a bigger difference between Dutch and Flemish than I’d thought.
Dutchman4life, I’m not flemish but what you’re saying is totally false. You’re confusing people.
There are certainly some differences between flemish and dutch, but 99% of the language is exactly the same! There are only few “uitdrukkingen” that can change from one to another. For the rest, you can clearly understand and have a suitable conversation with flemish people. The examples you’re giving here above, I have never read or heard things as the ones you wrote. “gij” : where the hell have you seen that? Where can i read/listen : “Oe noemt gij?” Any newspaper to quote as example?
I tend to agree with Bindie.
Mrs.Chris is Belgian and comes from a little way north of Antwerp. She has worked in the Netherlands and never had a problem speaking to Dutch people, or vice versa – except for the Dutch accent which I regret to say she finds amusing (but “not in a bad way” as she would say).
She’s not here right now, but I also do not recognise Dutchman4Life’s examples. I’m not saying they don’t exist, however.
Having said that I am often really surprised at the very local differences in language in Belgium (far more than in the UK for areas close by).
So, I once had to ask for a mug for Mrs.Chris when she was in hospital over there. I asked for a “jaat” (I think that’s correct spelling) since that’s what they are called in her home town and that is all I knew at that time.
Well, when the nurses picked themselves off the floor from laughing so hard they informed me that I shouldn’t use such “peasant-speak” and I should have asked for a “beker”.
The point is my wife’s home town and the hospital are only 15km away from each other!
When I lived in tongeren and St Niklaas gij was the diminutive of choise over jij, didn’t honestly make much difference. It would be like listening to the amish with the thee and thine over you and yours. Different but clearly wouldn’t throw you out of a conversation.
Slim bezig. C1000.
Ik hou van Tineke Schouten.
So does ‘Slim bezig’ mean something like ‘Shop smart’?
@Brucenator – My translation of ‘slim bezig’ would be ‘being smart’ or ‘acting smart’. It might be a deliberate spin on ‘goed bezig’. Both are informal.
Hi, I came here from Google. I seem to recall hearing this with the meaning of ‘up to no good’ (jij was niet goed bezig – although I’m living in Belgium, so maybe ‘gij was ni goe bezig’). I can only find the ‘well done’ definition, though.
Hi Manneke – in the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands one also encounters the opposite ‘niet goed bezig’, usually as follows: ‘Hij is niet echt goed bezig’ – he is not really doing a good job / he is not really on top of it / he doesn’t have things under control, etc.
Ik ben van Noord-Brabant en Toon heeft gelijk, wij gebruiken “goed bezig ” en “lekker slim bezig” met de tegenovergestelde betekenis.
Ehh.. apparently this is an English site, sorry about that, so here is a translation : I was raised in Noord- Brabant, and as far as I am concerned, Toon is right.
For the Southerner, the meaning of “goed bezig” and “lekker slim bezig” is the opposite of what it is in the North. It is often used in a somewhat sarcastic manner, to indicate someone is screwing up.