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Why "Bad" Words Can Actually Be Good To Hear (Or Swearing In Polite Conversation)
You should have realised by now that I am a big fan of languages, accents, dialects, etc - as well as how different people react to different words.

I grew up listening to two completely different languages - sometimes even in the same sentence.  (My Dad and I still sometimes speak both English and Dutch in the same sentence - there are times when it is easier to understand, as well as ensuring other people don't understand what we are talking about.)

There are times when this can be very confusing - especially when people don't react how you expect them to.  I will give you an example of when I was absolutely convinced a fight would break out because I forgot that I was not in England at the time of the conversation;

Two of my Mum's uncles were having an argument (OK - a discussion held at a volume which, if neither of them had been hard of hearing, would have been worrying) when my Oma's neighbour joined in.  One of the gentlemen disagreed with what she had said and replied, "Madam, you are wrong" (that was the English translation anyway).

On hearing that my brain immediately went into "English" mode and I prepared to make myself scarce if necessary.  If the participants in the conversation had been English speakers - even of the same age (in their 70's) - the use of the word "Madam" would probably have been seen as a sarcastic insult.  In this instance the gentleman who had uttered the phrase was actually being respectful whilst disagreeing with what the lady had said.

The above example is a small idea of the difference between English and Dutch when it comes to "Polite and Not Polite".  It gets worse (at least for me it did).

When I was growing up I was definitely taught that there are some words which people do not use in "polite" conversation when speaking in the English language.  Unfortunately for me I quickly learned that two of these words were actually used in "polite" conversation when speaking the Dutch language (even if they are actually spelled slightly differently they are phonetically the same).  Even worse - the biggest two word insult you can use to an English-speaker happens to be the most polite way of speaking to a Dutch person.  Another "unsavoury" word in the English language means "hear" in Dutch (however, it can also end up being liberally sprinkled at the end of sentences when the speaker wants to emphasise something).

Put it this way - every time I wish to address a stranger in Dutch I find my English brain cringing if I have to use the Dutch word for "can" (as in "you can") with the formal Dutch "u" (or "you").  Think of the worst swearword in the English language which starts with a "c" and change the first letter to a "k" and you have got it.

On the other hand "hoor" (pronounced like the unprintable word for "prostitute" isn't that bad - unless I hear it stuck to the end of a sentence when I am not expecting it.

There is one other English slang word (printable this time) which has been known to provide me with amusement when it crosses over the North Sea.  English-speakers would tell you that a "kip" is slang for a "sleep".  However, a Dutch person would tell you that a "kip" lays eggs and is very nice either roasted and served with potatoes and a selection of vegetables (I agree with this suggestion) or turned into some kind of "curry" sandwich filling (I disagree with this suggestion with a passion you can only dream of - I have tried one and it makes "Coronation Chicken" almost appetising).  Ladies and Gentlemen - the Dutch will inform you that a "kip" is a chicken.

Finally - there is one word which I now know the translation of in three languages (and they are all completely different) which makes the game of "Rock - Paper - Scissors" a rather interesting concept - no wonder some people call it "Stone - Paper - Scissors".

To an English person a "Rock" is a large stone.  To a Dutch person a "Rok" is a skirt.  To a Czech person (and I only remember this one word because of it) a "Roc" is a year.  All three are pronounced the same way.

Oh and don't get me started on the word "snoop" which the English apparently nicked from the Dutch and not only mis-spelt but mistranslated at the same time.




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