Christmas is over, but we're staying in the Christmas atmosphere for a little while longer with Challenge #4!
I love Christmas, the lights, the family reunions, the food, but one of the things I usually don't like as much, is the Christmas music. (and I don't think I am the only one)
In Flemish we would say:
"Kerstliedjes, dat is niet echt mijn ding." Christmas songs, they're not really my thing.
Or if you've been forced to listen for over two hours:
"Ik word er zot van!" It drives me crazy!
Now, I do make an exception for the song below: "Een bakske vol met stro" by Flemish singer and comedian Urbanus. It's so witty and clever, it always makes me smile. The title means "A box full of straw", referring to baby Jezus' first crib and the song is full of tyically Flemish words and features.
And so here comes the Challenge!
1) Listen to the song on Youtube.
2) While listening, try to complete the exercise.
3) Take your time to read the corrections and explanations. There is a lot of info on the Flemish words and features in the song.
We're staying in the Christmas atmosphere with this amazing document to help its readers survive the cliché "annoying" questions at a Christmas dinner table. The text is not only hilariously ironic, there is so much to learn here for people who want to sound like a native speaker! The sentences are completely realistic. This is the kind of stuff you cannot find in a book (yet!)! Check it out, if possible with a Flemish speaker nearby!
Original document can be found here.
The Christmas holidays are approaching fast and if you're lucky, you are getting some well-deserved time off with your family and friends. While packing your bags on your last day of work, take a few minutes to talk to your colleages about the holidays and to present them with your wishes!
Possible answers to these questions:
We hebben elk jaar een familiefeest. Dees jaar is het bij mijn ouders.
Each year, we have a family celebration. This year it's at my parents' house.
We gaan iets eten met vrienden en dan naar het vuurwerk kijken.
We're going to a restaurant with friends and then we'll watch the fireworks.
We gaan feesten en dansen natuurlijk!
We're going to party and dance of course!
We hebben bij vrienden thuis een feestje. Iedereen brengt iets mee.
We're having a party at a friends' house. Everybody is bringing something.
Ja, ik heb al mijn cadeaus al gekocht.
Yes, I already bought all of my gifts.
Wij trekken altijd ne naam. Ik moet een cadeau kopen voor mijn schoonbroer.
We always draw a name. I have to get a present for my brother in law.
Neen, wij geven geen cadeaus. Dat is zo'n commercieel gedoe.
No, we don't give gifts. It's such a commercial hassle.
Happy holidays! / Have a nice Christmas vacation!
Rust goed uit!
Geniet van uw tijd met de kinderen!
Enjoy your time with the kids!
Like in French: Bonnes fêtes!
Happy New Year!
Ik wens u een goede gezondheid, heel veel geluk en heel veel plezier in tweeduizend zestien!
I wish you a good health, a lot of happiness and a lot of fun in 2016!
Having trouble with de and het? Check out the new exercise!
There are some tips and tricks to help you out.
Perhaps you have already heard your friends or colleagues use the word "gezellig", not knowing exactly what it means or what they are refering to? Gezellig (a word used both in Flanders and the Netherlands) is difficult to capture in French or English, because there is no exact equivalent for it. The dictionary suggests "cosy", "convivial", "pleasant" (English) and "sympa", "agréable", "douillet", "familial" (French). However, I found an image online that captures it nicely:
For us, the word evokes images of cosy nights on the sofa, nice meet-ups with friends in a coffee bar or a restaurant, of family reunions and relaxed conversations. Some examples:
Hoe was het gisteren op restaurant? - Supergezellig, we zijn tot tien uur gebleven.
Amai, wat een schoon interieur! Zo gezellig!
Hebt ge al plannen voor nieuwjaar? - Ja, we blijven gewoon gezellig thuis met vrienden, en om middernacht klinken we op het nieuwe jaar!
Ik ben niet zo zot van feestjes, ik ga liever gezellig met vrienden op café.
So, I wish you all many "gezellige momenten" to make it a warm winter and wonderful holidays!
Today, I would like to talk about one of the key words to use if you want to sound like a Flemish native speaker: Amai!
If you live or work around Flemish people, you have for sure heard this expression a hundred times.
"Amai" is a word we use to express a number of things: positive emotions like surprise and admiration, but we also use it to express more negative observations when we find something unpleasant or difficult. (see examples below)
The closest translations in English would be: "wow!", "oh boy", "oh my". Some say it might actually come from the English "oh my" and came to Flanders during the Hundred Years' War.
Some examples on how to use "amai":
Amai, dat ziet er goed uit!
Amai, that looks good!
Ik heb een boek gepubliceerd. - Amai!
I published a book. - Amai!
Amai, wat ne schone kerstboom!
Amai, what a beautiful Chrismas tree!
Amai, het is nogal aan het gieten buiten!
Amai, it's raining cats and dogs outside! (you'll be using this one in Belgium, right?)
Amai, da's moeilijk!
Amai, that's difficult!
Amai, wat nen ambetante kerel is me dat!
Amai, what an annoying guy!
Good to know is that we also have the expression "Amai nie", which we use to confirm and reinforce what someone else said.
Diene scheidrechter is echt niet fair! - Amai nie!
That referee really isn't fair! - Amai nie!
Ik denk dat het tijd voor een tas koffie is. - Amai nie!
I think it's time for a cup of coffee. - Amai nie!
Idiomatic expressions constitute a really important part of a language: they add fun, humor and a little spice to your everyday speech. Dutch and Flemish are two languages particularly rich in idiomatic expressions. We love them! But for non-Dutch speakers, they can be quite challenging. When literally translating, it is sometimes impossible to get their actual meaning and you get some pretty strange-sounding and funny sentences!
So here comes your second challenge!
Part 1: If you have been studying Dutch already, try translating the sentences into Dutch/Flemish.
Part 2: Try guessing the meaning. Don't worry if it turns out you're completely off... It's normal! :)
Part 3: Take these expressions to a Flemish speaker and ask him to explain them to you! It's really funny for us to see these sentences translated in English, so for sure it will be a fun moment for the both of you!
My students often ask me which dictionary to use for translating things from and to Dutch. Well, my answer is: all of the walking dictionaries around you! Friends, colleagues, family, neighbours... they will provide you with better answers than any online dictionary can!
To encourage you to involve Flemish people in your learning process, I will post some challenges on this blog. The first challenge is easy. Take a look at the word cloud below. It's full of typically Flemish words. Do you understand some of them? Great!
Now, take this image to one of the Flemish people in your surroundings and get them involved! Did you understand the words correctly? Ask them to translate unknown words and give them some context. You will learn a lot!
Language Trainer specialising in informal language