the word 'even'?

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The Dutch use words like 'nou', 'toch', 'hoor', 'maar', 'wel', 'eens', or 'even' to modify the tone of a sentence. Their only function is to reflect the mood or attitude of the speaker. In spoken Dutch, there is hardly a phrase that does not contain one of these hard-to-explain words.
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user222
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the word 'even'?

Post by user222 » Sat Nov 12, 2005 8:21 am

What does the Dutch word 'even' mean exactly in English? Is the meaning similar to the English 'even'?

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Post by Wim » Sat Nov 12, 2005 10:21 am

Hallo User 222,

Hardly. The Dutch and English even do have the same meanings in even getallen 'even numbers' (as opposed to oneven getallen 'odd numbers'), but the basic meaning of Dutch even is 'for awhile, during a short moment.' It it often used to 'soften' an order and make it sound more friendly: Doe de deur even dicht 'Shut the door, please.'

English even is zelfs in Dutch: Ze had zelfs haar broertje meegebracht 'She [had] even brought her little brother.'

English even in the meaning of evening (as in [All] Hallows Even > Hallow E'en > Halloween) is (de) avond in Dutch. It often refers to the evening before a religious feast, like Kerstavond 'Christmas Eve'.

Groeten,
Wim

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Post by van.zuid » Tue Jan 31, 2006 12:32 pm

Thanks 222 & Wim, I was about to ask the same question, but now things seem more clear.

Wim, when you say that 'even' softens, could we say that 'toch' has somewhat the opposite function ('hardening', so to speak)?

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even

Post by Kuroi » Wed Feb 01, 2006 7:51 pm

I think your intuition may be right, van.zuid. If we consider:

Ga maar weg.
Ga toch weg.

Both could be translated as "(Just) go away." But to me it sounds as if the first one is a bit more passive, and the second one more aggressive. Perhaps someone who says "ga maar weg" may be about to cry, whereas someone saying "ga toch weg" may be more angry.

These are all just feelings... I can't really prove any of this.

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Post by van.zuid » Thu Feb 02, 2006 7:29 pm

Thanks, Kuroi. ;)

Well, you are a native Dutch, aren't you? Because it means a great deal - the way Dutch people 'naturaly' use it - more than just a plain usage explanation in a dictionary.

I'm really a beginner, and I get often puzzled by the precise meaning of 'toch' and 'even' in a certain sentence, since they seem to be used in various contexts... As you said, my 'intuition' usualy guides me through translation. But, I can't always rely on that. :)

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Post by Kuroi » Thu Feb 02, 2006 8:05 pm

That's right, I'm a native speaker.
I think if you're looking for a 'precise' meaning, of words like 'toch' or 'maar', you'll be looking for a very long time. As you said, they are used in very many different instances, and their 'meaning' is usually conveyed in English by means of intonation or context.
That doesn't mean though, that it's impossible to learn to use them in the right places, or at least to recognise what they mean when you see them.

I tried to find some information about what word should be used in what way, but there seems to be very little there, despite the fact that if you use google, you can see that people write things like "...nou toch ook maar weer eens..." without thinking twice.

Maybe it's a nice idea for this forum to collect such sentences and make an inventory...

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Post by van.zuid » Thu Feb 02, 2006 8:32 pm

Hm, I guess that the best (only?) way to learn that is 'along the way', just like de/het words... 8-[ :)

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