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Double Dutch

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54278.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 6:40 am Reply with quote

Question: If I'm playing dulcimer to an ox, but only appear to be reading from sky books, what's going on?

Answer: I'm trying to get you to understand something, but you're just not getting it.

Alternative answer: I have no idea (technically correct).

Notes Most languages have an expression for not understanding something, and a matching expression for trying to get someone to understand. The English say "it's all Greek to me", or "speaking double dutch", the Dutch say "I'm not speaking Chinese am I?", and the Chinese are responsible for "playing dulcimer to an ox" and "reading from sky books".

If you can't make head or tail of something, the Filippinos say "It's all German to me", but the Germans say "It's some kind of spoon language". The Icelandic say "It's mushy fish roe", the Danish talk of "speaking in crow language", and the French say you speak their language "like a Spanish cow".

Can the panel make up their own equivalents?

Source: Finnish-Estonian conference of Linguistics in Tallinn,
Estonia, May 6-7, 2004

Last edited by Gray on Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:10 am; edited 1 time in total

54292.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:18 am Reply with quote

Funny how many colloquialisms use the word 'Dutch'. Presumably dates from the time when they were the great commercial rivals, ie 18th Century?

eg Dutch courage, treat, auction, bargain, widow (ie prostitute) - there are lots of others in the dictionaries, mostly obsolete. A Dutch concert is one at which everyone sings a different tune, apparently, a Dutch feast is one where the host gets drunk before the guests, and 'the Dutch have taken Holland' was the proverbial bit of old news before Queen Anne died.

s: The Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang (Eric Partridge)

Frederick The Monk
54424.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:38 am Reply with quote

I seem to remember that in the 16th century the term 'Dutch' as used by sailors meant German (Deutsch) rather than Dutch. The Dutch were called Hollanders.

Frederick The Monk
54427.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:42 am Reply with quote

'Dutch' Phrases:

Dutch act

Dutch auction
An auction in which the auctioneer offers the goods at gradually decreasing prices, the first bidder to accept becoming the purchaser; to reverse the process of a normal auction.

Dutch bargain or wet bargain
A bargain settled over drinks, the Dutch being formerly reputed to be steady drinkers.

Dutch barn
A farm building with a curved roof on a frame that has no walls.

Dutch clover
White clover, a valuable pasture plant.

Dutch collar
A horse collar.

Dutch Colonial
Characterised by a gambrel roof with overhanging eaves.

Dutch comfort
Cold comfort, i.e. things might have been worse.

Dutch concert
A great noise and uproar, like that made by a party of drunken Dutchmen, some singing, others quarrelling, speechifying, etc.

Dutch courage
The courage exerted by drink; pot valour. The Dutch were considered heavy drinkers.

Dutch cousins
Close friends, a play upon cousins german.

Dutch defence
A sham defence.

Dutch door
A door divided horizontally so that the lower or upper part can be shut separately.

Dutch elm disease
A disease of elms caused by an ascomycetous fungus (Ceratocystis ulmi) and characterised by yellowing of the foliage, defoliation, and death.

Dutch generosity

Dutch gleek
Tippling. Gleek is a game and the name implies that the game loved by Dutchmen is drinking.

Dutch headache

Dutch hoe
A scuffle hoe, a garden hoe that has both edges sharpened and can be pushed forward or drawn back.

Dutch leaf
False gold leaf.

Dutch gold, Dutch metal
"German" gold, an alloy of copper and zinc, yellow in colour, which is easily tarnished unless lacquered. Imitation gold leaf is made from it, hence the name Dutch leaf. It is also called Dutch metal.

Dutch mineral
Copper beaten out into very thin leaves.

Dutch nightingales

Dutch oven
1. A heavy iron cooking pot with close fitting lid.
2. A tin hanging screen for cooking before a kitchen range or ordinary fire grate.
3. A brick oven in which the walls are preheated for cooking.
4. A prank where one farts under a blanket while holding a victim there.

Dutch roll
A combination of directional and lateral oscillation of an aeroplane.

Dutch rub
To rub your knuckles across the top of someones head whilst holding their head under your other arm.

Dutch talent
That which is not done in true nautical and shipshape fashion, more the result of brawn than brain.

Dutch treat
A meal, amusement, etc., at which each person pays for himself (i.e. not a treat at all). To go Dutch has the same meaning.

Dutch widow
A prostitute.

Dutch wife
An open frame constructed of cane, originally used in the Dutch East Indies and other hot countries to rest the limbs in bed; also a bolster used for the same purpose. Called thus because it was round, fat and just lay there.
In at least Japan, but probably also elsewhere, a sex doll.


Dutchman's breeches, or sailor's trousers
Two patches of blue appearing in a stormy sky giving the promise of better weather, i.e. enough blue sky to make a Dutchman (or sailor) a pair of breeches.

Dutchman's draught
A "big swig", a copious draught; one of the many allusions to the Dutchman's reputed fondness for heavy drinking.

Dutchman's log
A rough method for finding a ship's speed by throwing a piece of wood, etc., into the sea well forward and timing its passage between two marks on the vessel of known distance apart.

Double Dutch
1. Gibberish or jargon, as of infants or of a foreign tongue not understood by the hearer.
2. The jumping of two jump ropes rotating in opposite directions simultaneously.

Flying Dutchman
A ghost ship. A sailor who sees a Flying Dutchman will die before reaching home.

To go Dutch
See Dutch treat.

I'm a Dutchman if I do
A strong refusal.

If not, I'm a Dutchman
Used to strengthen an affirmation or assertion.

In Dutch
In trouble, out of favour, under suspicion.

The Dutch have taken Holland
A quiz when anyone tells what is well known as a piece of good news.

To talk like a Dutch uncle
To reprove firmly but kindly. The Dutch were noted for their discipline.

Well, I'm a Dutchman!
An exclamation of strong incredulity.

Pennsylvania Dutch
Not Dutch at all, but rather Deutsch, i.e. German, descendants (both the language and the people) of German settlers in Pennsylvania

Dutch disease
The deindustrialization of a nation's economy that occurs when the discovery of a natural resource raises the value of that nation's currency, making manufactured goods less competitive with other nations, increasing imports and decreasing exports. The term originated in Holland after the discovery of North Sea gas.


Frederick The Monk
54431.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:50 am Reply with quote

Question: Where do Dutch clocks come from?

Forfeits: Holland/ Netherlands/ Low Countries

Answer: Germany

Notes: Dutch Clocks i.e. German clocks, chiefly made in the Black Forest. As many as 180,000 are exported annually from Friburg. (German, Deutsch, German.)

"A woman, that is like a German clock.
Still a-repairing, ever out of frame,
And never going aright."

Shakespeare: Love's Labour's Lost, iii.1.

Links to: Double Dutch/ Dutch


54441.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:59 am Reply with quote

"Dutch hoe
A scuffle hoe, a garden hoe that has both edges sharpened and can be pushed forward or drawn back. "

I assumed a Dutch ho was one who paid the client ...

54443.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:59 am Reply with quote

We had a brief discussion of “French” in this context, during Series C - starting with post 20077.


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