250 Dutch Proverbs – lesson 07

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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 7, containing proverbs 61-70.

Proverb 61 “met het verkeerde been uit bed gestapt zijn”

Literally: having stepped out of the bed with the wrong leg. It means: being grumpy. You use it mostly in a question, when you actually want to find out what is the reason the other one is grumpy. “Ben je met het verkeerde been uit bed gestapt?” You see someone is grumpy, and you want to know what’s wrong.

Proverb 62 “hij is niet op zijn achterhoofd gevallen”

Literally: he has not fallen on the back of his head. This means: he is not stupid, he is able to see through what is going on. Often this expression is used, when two people talk about a third one; one proposes to hide something or to cheat a little bit, and then the other one uses this expression to stress it is not a good idea, because the third person is clever enough to find out what is really going on. As a reaction on such proposal you say: hij is niet op zijn achterhoofd gevallen!

Proverb 63 “zich de kaas niet van het brood laten eten”

We’re Dutch, so have proverbs about cheese! Literally: not letting someone eat the cheese from your bread. This expression, you use for someone who stands up for his own interests. The cheese in this expression is seen as some advantage. So, someone who is assertive – would not just let go that advantage.

Proverb 64 “ik noem maar een dwarsstraat”

Literally: I just call a side street. You use this expression, to give a random example. It is often used in the process of brainstorming about what to do. If someone, within a group, comes up with an idea, and wants to stress it is just an example of a possible action not necessarily being a good idea, you can say: ik noem maar een dwarsstraat.

Proverb 65 “leven als God in frankrijk”

Literally: to live like a God in France. The meaning is to have an easy and very comfortable life. A possible explanation of this expression, was that in the 18th century, in France, the meaning of life as being a servant to God was abolished; from then on God had actually nothing more to do in France. And therefore living like a God in France is referring to a life where you do not have much to do.

Proverb 66 “op z’n janboerenfluitjes”

To translate this expression literally, is not really possible. It refers to a way of doing something very easily, without too much efforts and sometimes stressing something is not professional. If you hear a sportsman having a achieved good result “op z’n janboerenfluitjes”, it means he won easily. But if you talk about a company which is run “op z’n janboerenfluitjes” it is rather expressing a highly unprofessional way of operations.

Proverb 67 “op de kleintjes letten”

Literally: to take care about the little ones. It means you take care about what you spend and that you do it in the most economic way. It is used in a situations when people just have to be economical because of their financial situation. So you don’t use this expression when you talk about people who are greedy.

Proverb 68 “praten over koetjes en kalfjes”

Literally: to talk about cows and calves. It means to talk about non important subjects. The origin of this expression is the countryside. There non-farmers saw farmers having a conversation. They valued the subject of the talk (cows and calves) as not important. Of course, for the farmers themselves, it was important. Nevertheless, cows and calves is synonymous for something not important. And nowadays, it is often the male part of the population who values the female conversations, as talks about “koetjes en kalfjes”

Proverb 69 “het is koek en ei tussen die twee”

Literally: it is biscuit and egg between those two. You use it when two people get along very well. You also can use it when two people patched up a quarrel. Especially when you talk about friends who had a quarrel and then reconciled. Then you say: “het is weer koek en ei”: it’s biscuit and egg again.

Proverb 70 “iemand in het ootje nemen”

Literally: to take someone in the letter O. “Ootje” is here the diminutive of the letter O. The meaning of this expression is: to play a joke on someone, doing a prank. Now to understand the origin of this expression: the letter O stands for a circle. To take one into the circle, means to put someone in the middle of a circle of people. In the past this was done to make fun of someone.

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 coulduse 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.

It’s not just cows and calves we talked about. I hope you go through this course op z’n janboerenfluitjes, and I hope you understand that I made this course NOT op z’n janboerenfluitjes. Do not forget to share this video on social media, and to put thumbs up in YouTube.

See you back in lesson 8 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 !