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Double Dutch

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52376.  Fri Feb 17, 2006 10:42 am Reply with quote

"Dutch courage"

I believe this one comes from the Napoleonic Era, when the Dutch troops had a notoriously poor morale, and would break and run fairly easily, in comparison to other troops of the day.
(EG Waterloo and other similar battles)
The phrase comes from the Dutch Troops getting a little the worse for wear before each battle to bolster their suspect courage under fire.

Now, to find some corrobatory evidence....(and apologies to the spelling or corrobatory if it is wrong!)



52386.  Fri Feb 17, 2006 10:49 am Reply with quote

For an English speaker with school German, Dutch is very easy to read, perhaps not quite so easy to speak. If you had learned it from the same age as which you began French, I would still maintain you would have found it the easier of the two.

Hmmm....I still found that French seemed to pronounce more the way it was spelt. Dutch is a little too 'flemmy' for me. I have to say that my school boy German was not so good. This causes much merriment with Mrs Tas, who has a degree in it, and she does chuckle at my poor pronunciation...



Mr Grue
52387.  Fri Feb 17, 2006 10:50 am Reply with quote

Wasn't Dutch once described as German with a mouthful of pebbles?

52416.  Fri Feb 17, 2006 11:20 am Reply with quote

The Dutch reputation for bibulousness (from which Dutch courage) appears to predate Waterloo, I fear. Brewer's has a quotation using the phrase Dutch Gleek in 1654, meaning drinking. Gleek was a card game, apparently, and Dutch Gleek was supposed to be the only sort of game you would find a Dutchman playing, I suppose.

52446.  Fri Feb 17, 2006 11:39 am Reply with quote

Couldn't 'Dutch courage' come from the importation of gin from Holland, where it was invented by a physician called Franciscus Sylvius in the 17th century?

A taste for it spread to England after William and Mary were on the throne, because of his Dutch background. although Dutch gin, (jenever or geneva or various variants) is different from English-style gin - more like whisky and slightly lower in alcohol.

Gin drinking spread widely in England when the government allowed unlicensed people to produce it from grain that was too poor in quality for beer-brewing, and at the same time slapped a tax on imported spirits. Because gin was so cheap to produce, it became very popular with the poor and overtook beer so that over half the pubs in London were gin-shops. Beer was thought safer to drink than water, but gin was blamed for many social and medical problems.

William Hogarth showed this in his engraving Gin Lane (1751):

52502.  Fri Feb 17, 2006 1:53 pm Reply with quote

Heh, just noticed this topic.
First of all: Palin is not an eel!
Paling is an eel. The pronounciation is completely different as well.

Something I'd have to add in this post is how terribly bad most brits are at speaking dutch. No offence, but iff we'd simply look at some televisionshows. Remember Hustle? Great series, but not very dutch-friendly. In an episode about mondrian, every character insisted that his name was Pjet. It's Piet, with an "i" as in with.
They had a fake conversation between two dutch artists, which had to sound genuine. It looked like it was translated by babelfish or something like that.
Also, whenever a dutch person is mentioned in qi, it takes me ages to understand the name. It's Mercator, not Mercaeto. And so on, and so on ....

At any rate, dutch isn't really a language worth learning.

52508.  Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:01 pm Reply with quote

If you go to the link on the other thread it say that Palin is the MNL for eel (Middle Netherland I suppose) and it does indeed give Paling as the modern Dutch for eel. However it is a site dedicated to old Dutch surnames and as such I am willing to believe that it is correct, the list is after all quite extensive.

The alternative for Palin that springs to mind would be the Greek, as in palindrome, meaning 'again'.

Wainwright means wagon-maker but wain (other than in Constables The Hay Wain) is no longer used to mean wagon, that doesn't mean it wasn't formerly though.


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