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A few months ago, I read a blog post on the Transparent Language Blog about being complimented when speaking a target language. Like Itchy Feet, I have mixed feelings when it comes to compliments because, while I appreciate the recognition of the effort that it takes to live in a foreign language 24/7, my ultimate goal is to speak in a way that my “foreign-ness” with the language goes unnoticed.
Perhaps this is why I am constantly observing and listening to native Dutch speakers and the way they express themselves. I am constantly looking for these little keywords that only native speakers casually insert that give the language its native feel. After much observation, I have come up with this list of 5 very useful words and phrases you can insert in your everyday Dutch.
This term comes from the Dutch Golden Era when pepper and spices were a luxury. At some point, the price of pepper was so high that it became a standard measurement. I constantly hear people refer to something expensive as peperduur instead of just erg duur or ongelofelijk duur (or whatever other variation).
While lekker means delicious, it is also used to describe something nice or leuk. You can say ik heb lekker geslapen or lekker lezen or even lekker shoppen eventhough none of these things are edible.
This phrase is certainly one that I’ve only heard native speakers use. I think an English equivalent would be “hey yeah” or “so” but I don’t think there is a very close equivalent. I recently heard my husband use it when he was telling his father about jogging. The conversation went something like “ja hoor, hij heeft goede conditie.” His dad was listening to him so it wasn’t meant as a way to get attention but its more of a filler phrase like “allora” in Italian.
This phrase is ideal for when you are calling to make arrangements. Whether you are making a reservation, want to schedule a payment or want to make changes to something with the government, you should start your request with ik vraag me af. A simpler equivalent would be mag ik or is het mogelijk om.
If you think an outfit your friend is wearing or the performance of an artist was amazing, you can always use the word top! This word can replace all the leuk’s and mooi’s in your vocabulary.
Which words or phrases would you add to this list?