250 Dutch Proverbs – lesson 02

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Transcript of the video lesson (scroll for more text):

Welcome to my video course “250 Dutch Proverbs”. I made a selection of proverbs and sayings that anyone who learns Dutch should know. The course consists of 25 lessons. In each lesson, I explain the meaning of 10 proverbs or sayings.Subtitles are available for each lesson. You just push the CC button in YouTube. The transcript of the lesson you find on Learndutch.org.

Let’s start with lesson 2, containing proverbs 11-20.

Proverb 11 “een goed begin is het halve werk”

Literally: a good beginning is half of the job. And well, the meaning should be clear: if you start well with something, the chance is high that you finish it.

Proverb 12 “lachen als een boer met kiespijn”

Literally: laughing like a farmer with toothache. This expression is used when someone is laughing, merely because other people are laughing, but about something he absolutely does not like (and he would rather cry about). For example, if your colleague got promotion while you did not… you will congratulate him with his new position, but the smile will hurt as if you would have a toothache.

Proverb 13 “een broodje-aap verhaal”

Literally: a story about a sandwich with monkey. And the meaning is a made-up story. “Broodje-aap” means simply: not true. Often it is a story, which someone heard of someone and then tells further, and in the end it becomes a myth, which many people believe. An equivalent in the English language would be “urban legend”. The reason why it is called in Dutch “Broodje Aap” is because of a 1978 book with this title from the Dutch-American author Ethel Portnoy. This book is a collection of urban legends, of which one tells about a restaurant, which serves monkey meat.

Proverb 14 “praten als Brugman”

Literally: to speak like Brugman. We use this expression when someone has the ability to speak very easily and to persuade people. An expression in English with more or less the same meaning is “the gift of the gab”. Of course, a very important asset for sales people. But who is this Brugman? He was a preacher in the Netherlands in the 15th century, who was very popular because of the way he preached.

Proverb 15 “de dans ontspringen”

Literally: to jump out of the dance. And the meaning is, that something uncomfortable or dangerous would have happened, if not some intervention would have been taken place (which is not within the own power). An English equivalent would be “saved by the bell”; but the Dutch expression not necessarily stresses that it was prevented at the last moment, although it often is.

Proverb 16 “de draak met iets steken”

Literally: to stab the dragon with something. And this “something” is where you refer to. The expression you use, to talk about someone who makes fun about other people often because they believe something (which he does not believe himself). For example, someone who makes jokes about people who believe in UFO’s. Hij steekt de draak met mensen die in UFO’s geloven.

Proverb 17 “een vreemde eend in de bijt”

Literally: a strange duck in the ice-hole. In the Netherlands, in wintertime when lakes are frozen, you see often many ducks gathered in this last piece of non-frozen water. We use this expression if we have a group, which is rather homogeneous, but 1 person in the group is clearly different from the rest. Then this person is “de vreemde eend in de bijt”.

Proverb 18 “een gat in de lucht springen”

Literally: to jump a hole in the air. It is used: if you are very happy with something on the moment you hear it or you see it. You do not necessarily need to jump, in order to use this expression. So, if I tell you that you passed your exam, you can sit on the couch and jump a hole in the air at the same time.

Proverb 19 “de hand in eigen boezem steken”

I need to explain the word “boezem”. It can mean breast or chest. But it can also refer to the space between your chest and the clothes above the chest; and that is actually meant here. The “boezem” is to the place of your conscience. And to put your hand on this place – means that you blame yourself instead of other people.

Proverb 20 “in de ijskast zetten”

Literally: to put in the fridge. You use this expression when you postpone your plans to a later moment, which you don’t specify, with actually quite a possibility that you won’t ever carry out the plans.

That’s it for today. You now know 10 more Dutch proverbs.

Let’s do a small exercise. Please take 1 of the proverbs we dealt with today, and think of a situation in which you could use that proverb. Write down that situation and the proverb, in the comments-section that you see below the video, when you watch it in Youtube. And I will personally comment, wether it is used correctly or not.

Please don’t put your plans to continue this course in the fridge. Although we are just in lesson 2: you have started the course – so you are already halfway!Do not forget to share this video on social media, and to put thumbs up in YouTube.

See you back in lesson 3 of 250 Dutch Proverbs. Do not forget to subscribe to our youtube-channel. Just pust the button and you get new videos to learn Dutch every week. And of course visit our website where you can find much more course materials for learning Dutch and you also find there the transcripts of this lesson. See you next time !