In the Netherlands, commercials on TV are almost always funny. No matter what product or service you sell, the only possible way to draw the attention of the Dutch public is by using humor in your commercials. Whether it is food, beer, insurances or financial services: keep it funny!
A nice commercial, which is typically Dutch in many ways, can be watched below. It is a commercial for a Dutch energy company and they promote wind energy. In the commercial two Dutch bus drivers drive a group of foreign tourists through the Netherlands. During the tour, they drive through the low Dutch landscape with its high skies and windmills and they visit all the typical Dutch tourist places and sights like a cheese market, the miniature city Madurodam and the fishing-village Volendam, where they eat herring the Dutch way. One of the drivers tells his story to the tourists using typical Dutch phrases about wind. Since it´s always windy in the Netherlands, we do have many phrases which refer to wind. Mostly, wind is used in a figurative way. In Dutch, those phrases make sense of course, but the driver translates them directly into English and then the true meaning gets lost. And the tourists have no idea what he is talking about…
Since everyone in the Netherlands learns English at school, everyone is able to speak it. Or at least be understood. The driver thinks his English is perfect and with a large smile he surprises the tourists with his knowledge of languages. The wrong use of the English language and the false combination of Dutch grammar and English words is also called Dunglish (DUtch-eNGLISH). In the Netherlands we also describe this term as ‘steenkolenengels’ (coal English). In the early twentieth century many international ships transporting coal arrived in the port of Rotterdam. The local Dutch workers tried to communicate with the ship crew in a very poor English. That´s how the term ‘steenkolenengels’ was born.
Did you get interested in hearing some real Dunglish? Just watch the video below and try to understand the phrases!
Any idea what the bus driver was talking about? Here are the typical Dutch phrases he mentioned listed with their true meaning:
“Those windmills have not laid us wind eggs”= The windmills brought prosperity
“Just beat my advice in the wind”= Ignore someone´s advice
“He gets the wind from the front”= Tell somebody off
“I smell an hour in the wind”= Smell very badly
“From the wind we cannot live”= We can´t live on air alone