False friends – 03: hoe is het? vs who is it?

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Transcript of the video lesson Dutch English False Friends- “hoe is het?” vs “who is it?”:

Hi, welcome to learndutch.org’s false friends.

Words from different languages that sound or look the same, but with a different meaning. Today the Dutch phrase: “hoe is het?” which sounds the same as the english “who is it?”. They are false friends!

Now when may this go wrong? typically in a phone conversation…

(wring)

“John Smidt” (The Dutch usually pick up the phone and say just their name”.

“Bart de Pau”

“Hoe is het?” 

And that’s a typical first phrase, it means “how are you?”

But, if the other person did not hear your name well. And perhaps isn’t sure you’re speaking Dutch… he probably said in English “Who is it?.”

Please pay attention that the Dutch pronounce the word “het”, usually for short like [ut]. “Hoe is [ut]?” So then, you can’t distinguish the sound of the Dutch “het” and the english “it”.

Now, I personally had this situation. I was calling after years to one of my former university professors. And after hearing my name, I heard a very enthusiast “hoe is het?”… So, I started telling… Oh good, I graduated university, and I started living on my own and actually my girlfriend moved in. And yeah, she’s very nice by the way…”

“Wie ben jij ???” (in other words: who are you?)

We summarise:

“wie is het?” = “who is it?”

“hoe is het?” = “how are you?” 

So, the Dutch “hoe is het?” and and the English “who is it?” are false friends, which may cause confusion especially in phone conversations.

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