Woordenboek Woensdag: Spelen

Perhaps not surprisingly, today’s posting is inspired — once again — by the World Cup. After all, I’ve been watching the Dutch coverage of the matches, so I’ve been hearing a lot of basic terms used repeatedly. This is how I started learning Italian years ago, as well. This is going to be a quick posting, since it’s half time of the Chile-Honduras match and I don’t have much time.

One of the terms that I’ve definitely learned in the past week has been wedstrijd (match), in part because it’s said a lot, and in part because I kept mishearing it in the past and wondered why they were talking about websites (with a strange accent) so much during matches. A similar word is spel (game). Is spel used more for “games” in general, while wedstrijd is used more for sporting/football “matches”?

Spelen (to play) is the verb of the day, or perhaps of the month. It’s definitely being used extensively! There’s also speler (player). The problem comes when de spits (striker) is buitenspel (offside), ruining a goeie kans (good chance) at a doel (goal). One last question: spits is listed in my dictionary as both de and het. Is it interchangeable?

Woordenboek Woensdag: Verkeer/Verkeerd

Dutch Lesson
I slacked a bit over the past few weeks on my Woordenboek Woensdag entries while my parents were here, but I’m trying to get back into the swing of things. I haven’t been doing much proper studying, but I’ve noticed recently that I seem to understand a little bit more of written Dutch and occasionally a bit more spoken Dutch, as well. I’m also trying to put together more sentences now, even if only in my head. Whether walking around town or lying in bed, I have little conversations in my head and try to see how much I can do in Dutch. Some times I do ok, other times I get stuck very easily. Of course, whether I’m right is a whole other issue!

Speaking of being wrong, this leads me to the words of the day: verkeer and verkeerd. They’re annoyingly similar but with very different meanings.

Verkeer (as seen in the photo above) is the word for traffic. We spent a lot of time in traffic last week coming back from dropping my parents at the ferry in Europoort, near Rotterdam. The drive there was quick and painless. The drive back took hours and was incredibly frustrating. Still, it gave me a topic for tomorrow, as you’ll see. Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with verkeer much in het dagelijks verkeer (in everyday life, or “in the daily traffic”), outside of fietsen verkeer (bike traffic).

Verkeerd, on the other hand, is an adjective or adverb meaning wrong. I suspect this is a word I should learn, since I’ll probably hear it a lot as I eventually try to speak more Dutch. Iets verkeerd uitspreken is what my dictionary lists as the phrase for mispronouncing something. I’m not quite sure how to use that, though. Would it be: Ik uitspreek iets verkeerd. ??

So, two more words for my slowly growing vocabulary. Let’s hope I can keep them straight and ultimately avoid both traffic and being wrong!

Woordenboek Woensdag: schoonmaken


Mijn ouders (my parents) arrive on Sunday, so this week ik ben een schoonmaker (I’m a cleaner). Fortunately, the gemeente (city council) seems to be joining me in cleaning things up a bit for their arrival. City workers were out today with weed-whackers to clean up the dandelions and other weeds that have sprouted up all over the place.

So yes, I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning. De grote schoonmaak (the big clean, aka, spring cleaning). It’s that time of year, and having visiting parents is an excellent reason for giving the whole house a thorough cleaning. Schoonmaken, the infinitive form of the verb to clean, is one of those Dutch verbs that splits up and rearranges itself. The first person, singular conjugation of the verb is: Ik maak schoon. On the surface, it seems a bit confusing, but really, when you break it down, it makes more sense. Basically, it translates literally to “I make clean”. Maken is the verb for to make and schoon means clean (in this case).

My question for all of you who know Dutch better than I do is this: If I want to identify what I’m cleaning, does schoon then come after the object or before? In other words, would it be “Ik maak het huis schoon” or “Ik maak schoon het huis”?

In doing my bits of research for this, it reminded me that schoon is also the word for beauty. Cleanliness is beauty, I guess! Also of interest and vaguely appropriate, since all of this cleaning is because of my parents’ arrival: the Dutch word for in-laws is de schoonouders. Depending on the length of the visit, I suppose that schoonouders are either a beautiful thing or something that you need to clean the house of. 😉