I love Flemish...

Brussels Travel Blog

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... I really wish I could speak it. It is such a cute language.

From today's lesson, I learned that in Flemish a stuffed toy is called a "knuffel", which literally translates to "cuddle". As an aside, the Flemish always pronounce the "k" at the front, so "knie" (knee) is pronounced like it looks like it should be in English - keh-nee.

I already knew that a "kater" (cat) was a hang-over and a "blauw kater" (blue cat) was a really bad hang-over, today I learned that a small hang-over is called a "kattertje" (kitten). Oddly the cat in question is a male (kater) never a female (kat).

My "this is just silly" moment for the week comes from a sentence: "Er staan drie zitten kinderen op de photo". "Three sitting children stand on the photo". In Flemish things either stand, sit, lie or hang. It is all very difficult for French speakers to learn but is nearly identical to English, except that everything written or printed "stands". Your signature stands on the page, music stands on a CD, three sitting children stand on the photo.

Two Flemish sayings that I liked: "er hangt regen in de lucht" ("the rain hangs in the sky", for an overcast day) and "ik doe water in de wij" ("I put water in the wine", meaning to compromise or give in).

Finally, today I learned to origin of the most commonly used Flemish word (for me at least), "alstublieft". It is the same as "s'il vous plaƮt" in French, used as both "please" and "there you go", which explains why the most common English mistake in Belgium is waiters saying "please" when they give you something. Anyway, I hadn't picked up on this, but it is a contraction of "als het u blieft" ("if it pleases you"). I'm really happy to know this, because it used to irk me how bilingual signs would say "svp/aub" and I didn't know why they used a.u.b. as the acronym.
ik-ben-10eke says:
The dutch (or flemish) verb "believen" means "to please". (Do'nt confuse this with the english "to believe", which means "geloven")
I don't think the verb "believen" is used anymore in dutch, at least not that I know of. 20 years ago at the butcher's in my village the woman always asked "blieft U anders nog iets" which means "is there anything else you would like". When that butcher retired I never heard that phrase again.
Posted on: Nov 23, 2009
lamadude says:
I remember in my very first English class in school some boy in class said "I don't know" and pronounced the "k" in k-now. So the problem exists both ways.
I never really thought about the whole standing/sitting thing, I guess you never really think about your own language, everything seems normal.

When living in Germany I noticed they also use the word "kater" and it also has the double meaning of male cat/ hangover. But my favorite way of describing a hangover is in french: "J'ai mal aux cheveux" which means "my hair hurts" :-) It makes no sense and yet it's a beautiful description I think :-)
Posted on: Nov 17, 2009
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