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How to be streetwise in Dutch

Streetnames are always great. They do not only help you to find the right address, there is another great benefit too. As long as you pay attention now and then, they can also hep you to boost your Dutch vocabulary!

Let’s take the street of my office for example: Keizersgracht. This means Emperors Canal. Sure… the word Keizer may look difficult at first, but once you realize that it comes from Ceasar, then all of a sudden it makes more sense, right?

Then it is easy to continue… Rozengracht means Roses Canal,  and Raadhuisstraat means City Hall Street. The literal translation of Raadhuis is Council House. As an extra bonus the word Raad also means advies (advice) in Dutch, so now you can see how easy it is to boost your vocabulary if you just pay a bit more attention to street names a little bit more often 🙂  

Some Streets have funny names

Kalverstraat, the most popular shopping street of Amsterdam used to be a market street for calves. Het kalf is the calf in Dutch.  Nieuwedijk means new dike of course. Herengracht means canal of the Lords. Once again, just walk around in Amsterdam and all of a sudden you’ll know many more words…

Some streets by the way, have funny names. Take Gebed Zonder End for example. This is a prayer without ending. In Dutch, it also has a second meaning. Een gebed zonder end is also an unpleasant experience or project that seems to go on for ages and ages…. who knows? It could be trying to speak Dutch ….

Make sure that you never say this:

One more tip… never use in if you talk about canals, unless you are a fish or a duck. Do not say: ik woon in de Keizersgracht, but rather say: Ik woon aan / op de Keizersgracht. This means that at the place where you live, at least you’ll stay dry!



Comment Section

2 thoughts on “How to be streetwise in Dutch

By Hoang on 16 December 2014

That’s funny 🙂 learning Dutch – een gebed zonder end 🙂

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