Strange confessions

Funny stories about your learning experiences. Mondegreens, Silly mistakes, Jokes, Riddles and all kinds of fun stuff. Strange things you noticed about differences and similarities between Dutch and English (or German, French, Swahili, ..).

Strange confessions

Postby Tom » Thu Oct 13, 2005 6:08 am

Here is some boring background and food for thought. :roll: (Skip this if you start to fall asleep.)

Believe it or not, you have learned how to process Heteronyms, Homonyms, Homographs and Homophones in your native language and probably don’t even think too much about doing it. You just do and that is that.

If you don’t know what they are, have a look at this web site:
http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/hhhh.html

Now that you are totally confused ](*,) or possibly amused :-k , let’s get down to the how this applies to learning Dutch.

Firstly, I think I can say that when reading Dutch, for the most part, what you see is what you get. If you learn the rules, when you see a word you should be able to know how to pronounce it, even if you can’t get your mouth to do so. In English however, how do you pronounce the word “read”? Is it “reed” or “red”? So going from the written word to the spoken word is not too bad in Dutch.

However, going from the spoken word to the written word is a bit more difficult. If you hear what sounds like “BAIT-CHUH” what do you look up in your dictionary, “beetje” (a little bit) or “bijtje” (a little hole in the ice)?

It gets worse going from the spoken word to the meaning because even if there can be only one spelling for the sound, that spelling can still have many meanings. For example,
“naar” – the preposition (to, from, after, according to, by, in), “naar” - the conjunction (as) and “naar” – the adjective or adverb – (nasty, horrid, horrible, sick, ill)

This gets even more compounded for those of us just learning Dutch because our ears are not tuned yet. So if we hear “na” we may think it is the word “naar” since we cannot always hear the difference and if we don’t have a big enough vocabulary or know something about grammar, then we cannot even use the process of elimination to figure out what the word likely is in the context in which it is used.

Oh my, how will we ever overcome this? Well, the answer is with time, effort, practice, repetition, listening, watching, reading, writing, speaking, asking, interacting, making mistakes, being corrected, and on and on. In other words, the same things you did to learn your mother tongue!

And oh yes, being embarrassed and feeling a bit stupid.

When this happens to me, I remember it! And I usually don’t repeat it! It sticks!

Now to the point of this topic.

I thought it would be fun for us to tell others about some of our mistakes and the misunderstandings we had when we tried to put our listening or speaking abilities in Dutch into practice. Have Heteronyms, Homonyms, Homographs and Homophones been the cause? What do you think the underlying problem was? We may find that we have common problems.

So I will call the Topic – Strange Confessions.

Who is first?

P.S. Your story can also be about mistakes or frustrations in reading, using a dictionary, spelling etc. Usually the crazier or more frustrating the story, the more the readers will relate to it and hopefully learn from it.

Tom
Last edited by Tom on Thu Oct 13, 2005 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Tom
Global moderator
 
Posts: 506
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:41 pm
Location: New Jersey, USA - Belgie
Mother tongue: English
Gender: Male

Wees bang!

Postby Tom » Thu Oct 13, 2005 8:49 am

OK, I'll start it off.

A long time ago, in a land far away, (Belgium in this case), I decided to try my luck at reading some simple Dutch books. I went to the bookstore to get a recommendation and the woman suggested “Jip een Janneke”. These were short stories by Annie M.G. Schmidt & Fiep Westendorp. Well, it turns out that these books are as famous as Green Eggs and Ham were for me when I grew up. I don’t think there any native Dutch speakers that have not read them or had their own copy. They are great.

Well, in one of the stories, I learned the word for orphan, “wees”. I thought that was a pretty cool way to add to my vocabulary. Read and look up words in my dictionary.

Life was good. I had Jip en Janneke in book form, a television, a video cassette player, and a dictionary. I was set to learn.

Then one day I heard or read, I can’t remember exactly, “Wees niet bang”.

“Orphan not afraid”. That made no sense. So eventually I had to ask someone what it meant. They chuckled and said that it meant “Don’t be afraid”.

“Really, how am I supposed to figure that out?”, I said, “that is not in my dictionary. “

They explained that it was "wees" … but … this word "wees" was a conjugated form of the verb “wezen” (to be). “Wezen” was the infinitive form of the verb and that is the form listed in the dictionary.

Well great! How the heck am I supposed to figure that out? Did he think that I spoke Dutch or something? It seemed that you needed to know how to un-conjugate verbs to come up with their infinitive form. Of course, that meant that you had to recognize that they were a verb “thingy” to begin with. Besides, wasn’t the verb for “to be” the already irregular verb “zijn”. How many “to be”s can there be or not be?. That was my question.

It gets worse. It turns out that the plural of “wees” is “wezen”. Of course you can’t look plurals up in the dictionary I have (or most other paper dictionaries). So when you look up “wezen” you get the verb and not the noun. How am I supposed to figure this out? How did “wees” become “wezen”? How was I to know you need to look up words in their singular form in order to find what their plural form is?
“Well,”, I was told, “you have to learn some rules or guidelines about spelling, “s”s becoming “z”s and vice versa, adding “en” to make a plural, except when you add an “s” or “eren” or …”
I said, “Wait, you mean that I first have to know Dutch before I can use a dictionary to learn Dutch.” “Talk about the chicken and the egg story.”

Ok, so some time goes on and I persevere. I like watching TV, especially children's TV since it is a lot easier to understand. I tape “De snorkels” and watch the episodes over and over. Guess what they are? According to the intro, they are “Onderwater wezens”. Hmmm! “Underwater orphans’s” (the plural of the plural of orphans)? Or maybe, “Underwater “to be”ers” ? What is going on? So I try the dictionary anyway. Well a “wezen” is also a creature. In this case, to turn it into a plural you add “s” which makes it “wezens” – “Underwater creatures”.

OK, at this point, my brain is “Wees”ted (wasted).

Then, some time later, I think I was at a meeting, I heard “Wezens serious”. “Serious creatures”? That didn’t fit the situation. So I asked if that was an expression or something, since it didn’t make sense to me. After the room had a good laugh and the person regained his composure, I was told that what was said was actually “Wees eens serious” Which meant “Be serious”. So now we come right back to “Wees” with a whole other word “eens” following so closely, that it, to my ear, is absorbed into the first one.

How can I win?

Well...
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.

Tom
Last edited by Tom on Thu Oct 13, 2005 6:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.
User avatar
Tom
Global moderator
 
Posts: 506
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:41 pm
Location: New Jersey, USA - Belgie
Mother tongue: English
Gender: Male

Postby Laura » Thu Oct 13, 2005 9:11 am

Well I haven't been learning Dutch for very long, but I am of the opinion that you just have to go for it and write sentences. I think I learn more this way than agonising for hours constructing one perfect sentence. So I have 2 Dutch friends who I practice my Dutch on (sending them e-mails partly in Dutch) and I think they find this absolutely hilarious (while being very kind and correcting me etc.).
The worst thing that I've done so far was use "erg" to mean "important". I got that meaning from a dictionary. I wanted to say "my health is more important than science" but in using "erg" apparently ended up saying "my health is WORSE..."
I am still very afraid of "erg"! Especially as I was teased about this in the form of receiving a sentence with about 5 erg's in it.

Another source of confusion for me is translating every word literally and completely losing the sense of an expression. So I translated "ik zal je op de hoogte houden" to something along the lines of "I will hold you up to the level", when it means "I'll keep you informed" (so I'm told).

I don't do much Dutch conversation, I can see that's going to be a whole another minefield!

Veel succes allemaal,
LJ
User avatar
Laura
Waardevol lid
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2005 4:48 pm
Location: London, UK
Country of residence: United Kingdom

I can't stop laughing

Postby Tom » Thu Oct 13, 2005 9:22 am

The first time I heard "... op de hoogte houden" I thought it was something like "This is a stick-up" (robbery). "Hold your hands high in the air".

I like your stories, Laura, I can relate to both of them. I am still laughing right now, because I have made similar mistakes.

You have to admit, when we look back on them, they are a bit funny. Although at the time they maybe were not so funny to us.

Tom
User avatar
Tom
Global moderator
 
Posts: 506
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:41 pm
Location: New Jersey, USA - Belgie
Mother tongue: English
Gender: Male

Postby Laura » Thu Oct 13, 2005 9:36 am

Yes, I can laugh about my mistakes now....
I haven't yet done anything unbelievably cringe-making (like make an innuendo by mistake or something) and since the people I write Dutch to are my friends I think that it is less embarrassing for me than it would be if I was trying to communicate with people I didn't know. They'll always give me friendly response even if I get teased......

I am very entertained by your "this is a stick up" translation!
LJ
User avatar
Laura
Waardevol lid
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2005 4:48 pm
Location: London, UK
Country of residence: United Kingdom

Mondegreens

Postby Wim » Thu Oct 13, 2005 2:39 pm

Hallo allemaal,

Mastering a foreign language isn't easy. Never will be either, at least when you're an adult. In fact you can only learn it the hard way: by studying hard and by making mistakes. Hilarious mistakes even. But they are a good way to learn: once you've made the whole room roar with laughter following an innocent remark that turned out to be some kind of innuendo (or whatever) you'll never make the same mistake again! :D

But mishearing things isn't uncommon. You may know this Scottish song

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands
Oh whaur hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl of Murray
And Lady Mondegreen
.

Poor Lady Mondegreen... If that would be what the song said. But it doesn't, for one victim would do: they have slain the Earl of Murray and laid him on the green.

Story has it that this was the reason to call mishearings of spoken texts mondegreens. So Tom's strange confessions may be called mondegreens as well. Try 'mondegreen' in Google and you'll find many often hilarious mishearings, in most cases of popular songs. It's real fun.

And about zijn/wezen: isn't the verb 'to be' a disaster in almost all Western European languages? So why would Dutch be an exception?

I'm looking forward to reading more funny stories!

Veel succes ermee,

Wim
Wim
Native speaker & moderator
 
Posts: 622
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2005 7:39 am
Location: The Hague, Holland
Country of residence: Netherlands
Mother tongue: Dutch (Netherlands)
Second language: English (Great Britain)
Third language: French
Fourth language: German
Fifth, sixth, seventh, ..., languages: Quite a lot.
Gender: Male

Postby Laura » Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:21 pm

Yes, I've heard these kind of mis-hearings called "mondegreens" before, more usually in the context of song lyrics than foreign languages though.
So Dutch songs ought to be a fertile source of mis-understandings for students of Dutch, especially as it's so much harder to understand someone who's singing rather than just speaking.
User avatar
Laura
Waardevol lid
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2005 4:48 pm
Location: London, UK
Country of residence: United Kingdom

Postby EetSmakelijk » Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:50 pm

Sorry about the double posting on this message; deleting this first one.
I submitted, then realized I needed to add more and submitted again. :oops:
Groetjes,
Last edited by EetSmakelijk on Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ES, S'je, Saartje, of EetSmakelijk
:P
Mijn Esnips account is:
http://www.esnips.com/web/EetSmakelijksDutchStuff
User avatar
EetSmakelijk
Global moderator
 
Posts: 693
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2005 2:33 am
Location: Canada
Country of residence: Canada
Mother tongue: English (Canada)
Second language: French
Third language: Dutch
Gender: Female

Postby EetSmakelijk » Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:55 pm

:lol: :wink: I haven't made any serious mistakes...yet.
I would have to say the most frustrating was right here on this forum; that little incident with the verb zullen and finding out that nobody uses it for normal future stuff when I thought my sentences sounded so perfect. :o
Oh well, it could have been much much much worse, I could have accidentally used a swear word or something. lol
I think the main reason I haven't made any very serious mistakes is that I am timid with language. I make darn sure I understand before I write, lol. If I don't get it, I usually ask before guessing at something. It's the guessing that can get one into embarassing mistakes. Not a very quick way to learn I know; risk-taking is the learner's best friend, but I am simply too timid to mess with the language.
I loved your story about the verb to be Tom. It's funny, that's one of my favourite verbs. I love saying "wees bang! Wees heel erg bang!", said that to one of my Dutch friends and he asked me why he should be afraid. I love saying things like that out of the blue and getting a reaction from Dutch friends. :o
Tom, wezens being creatures makes sense, beings! :) I love words like that that just make so much sencse.
Oh yeah, another thing that frustrated me was the zeer/heel/erg bit.
One of my friends said heel erg in an internet chat conversation, but when I went to use the expression myself I forgot she had said heel and thought it was zeer so I said zeer erg thinking that sounded good. Bieneke corrected me so I went back over my chat conversation and my friend had indeed said heel erg and not zeer erg. Lol, I had been hoping I could correct my Dutch friend!!!
Ok, methinks I have rambled on enough.
Met lachende groetjes,
With laughing groetjes,
ES, S'je, Saartje, of EetSmakelijk
:P
Mijn Esnips account is:
http://www.esnips.com/web/EetSmakelijksDutchStuff
User avatar
EetSmakelijk
Global moderator
 
Posts: 693
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2005 2:33 am
Location: Canada
Country of residence: Canada
Mother tongue: English (Canada)
Second language: French
Third language: Dutch
Gender: Female

Ik lach me hier een bult!

Postby Tom » Thu Oct 13, 2005 4:20 pm

Hoi Wim,

I looked up "mondegreen" on google as you suggested.

My sides are splitting from laughing too hard!. :lol: .I am not kidding!
My eyes are tearing. I have to stop reading for a while.

Here is an excerpt from one of the web sites:
… Also high on the charts is a Mondegreen from "Groovin'", a popular song of an earlier era. (Kids, "groovin'" was kind of like "chillin'" except the clothing fit more tightly).
In that song, the Rascals were singing "You and me endlessly," but many people heard "You and me and Leslie," leading to speculation about the exact identity of Leslie and the popularity of multiple couplings in the music world.

I never knew this! :oops: I have been under the same wrong impression for my whole life. #-o By the way, I think that I still have this song on a 45 rpm record (if anyone other than “old” me still knows what a 45 is)! At that time, they were called “The Young Rascals”. Later they changed their name to “The Rascals”. I was about 9 or 10 years old when it came out. That is hysterical!

I also never knew that there was a word (mondegreen) given to such a thing either.

You have made my day! :D

Ik lach me hier een bult! :lol:
I am splitting my sides with laughter!

Tom
User avatar
Tom
Global moderator
 
Posts: 506
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:41 pm
Location: New Jersey, USA - Belgie
Mother tongue: English
Gender: Male

This really happened to me.

Postby Tom » Thu Oct 13, 2005 5:26 pm

Here is a great mondegreen. The twist is it is a Dutch song with an English listener!

I like an older rock and roll group called “NORMAAL”. I have their album
“DEURDONDEREN” on cassette.

The first song on the album is “Deurdonderen”. I once was playing this for my “English only” speaking friends to show them how good Dutch rock and roll was.

The first few words of the song are:

He, word es wakker, …
Hey wake up, …

If you go to this website:
http://www.radio538.nl/538/muziek/downl ... sp?id=6825
you can listen to the intro to the song.

What do you think is being said? Imagine that you are a native English speaker, specifically an American English speaker.

Tom
User avatar
Tom
Global moderator
 
Posts: 506
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:41 pm
Location: New Jersey, USA - Belgie
Mother tongue: English
Gender: Male

Re: This really happened to me.

Postby Marco » Thu Oct 13, 2005 6:11 pm

Tom wrote:I like an older rock and roll group called “NORMAAL”. I have their album
“DEURDONDEREN” on cassette.

The first song on the album is “Deurdonderen”. I once was playing this for my “English only” speaking friends to show them how good Dutch rock and roll was.
Tom


Hey, they're from the area I live in (de Achterhoek) 8)

Tom, let me tell you this:

if you want to understand what they say you first have to learn dialect language, because the language we speak here is completely different from what Dutch is. Here we speak Achterhoeks. :)

To give you a few examples:

Achterhoeks - Dutch - English

deur - door - through
donderen - denderen - to rumble (now take a look at 'deurdonderen' again. :wink: )
peerd - paard - horse
suuker - suiker - sugar
leer - ladder - ladder
jappels - aardappels - potatoes
proaten - praten - to talk
et moar grus - eet maar gerust - just eat / simply eat "eat as much as you like"
(when my grandma said that my mother actually thought she said "eat grass"! :lol: )
Etc.

So "Normaal" isn't the band you want to learn Dutch from. :wink:
User avatar
Marco
Moedertaalspreker (native speaker)
 
Posts: 437
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2005 10:41 am
Location: Westervoort, NL
Country of residence: Netherlands
Mother tongue: Dutch (Netherlands)

You are absolutely right!

Postby Tom » Thu Oct 13, 2005 6:54 pm

Marco,

You are absolutely right! I would not suggest to anyone to use it as a model for learning Dutch! I knew it was a dialect, but did not know which one. It is amazing how stong a dialect it is.

Nonetheless, I think they are a great band with a powerful beat, even if I can only understand 20% of what they are saying :oops: . Whatever the language, good rock and roll is good rock and roll.

I am glad you mentioned this, I would not want to be the cause of someone buying it and wondering :roll: why they can't understand it, even thought they worked so hard and for so long on their Dutch.

Tom
User avatar
Tom
Global moderator
 
Posts: 506
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:41 pm
Location: New Jersey, USA - Belgie
Mother tongue: English
Gender: Male

Postby Marco » Sat Oct 15, 2005 5:45 pm

Haha,

I'm willing to help you out any time, Tom! :)

Even here, in my home town, we have a dialect, the 'Westervoorts'.

All residents of Westervoort have the so-called 'Westervoort-gevuul', the 'Westervoort-feeling', but that's different for everyone. For me it's enjoying life of the place I live in. :)
User avatar
Marco
Moedertaalspreker (native speaker)
 
Posts: 437
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2005 10:41 am
Location: Westervoort, NL
Country of residence: Netherlands
Mother tongue: Dutch (Netherlands)

mis-understandings

Postby Laura » Tue Oct 25, 2005 2:23 pm

I have a new mis-understanding to report, well more an instance of complete and utter bewilderment.
So having been alerted to the existence of K3 by Tom, I thought, how fun, I can try and translate what they're singing about.
In the song "Wat ik wil" (which is v catchy) there is the line "sla ik aan de haak". I was complete stumped by this because I realised "aan de haak" was something along the lines of "on the hook", but all I knew "sla" was was "lettuce" :lol:
(I realised that the line probably needed a verb and "sla" was the best candidate, but I couldn't get lettuce out of my head!)
So I now know the verb is "slaan" but I still don't really understand the line (catch me on the hook?)
*still giggling about lettuce*
LJ
User avatar
Laura
Waardevol lid
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2005 4:48 pm
Location: London, UK
Country of residence: United Kingdom

Next

Return to Laughs and Learning

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest