Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Friday, 1 December 2017
How to Catch a Dutch Owl (so necessary in December)
for me one of the most fascinating aspects of learning a new language is that it allows me glimpses into the character and poetic heart of another nation and culture.
The idioms, the proverbs, the sayings - daily life dances in new clothes!
So I learned a lot Dutch expressions for "THE NAP". (An endangered pleasure...)
Of course you can use the common word: "een dutje" - BUT: how much more vivid and colourful is the older phrase: "een uiltje knappen" - and though the experts quarrel about the first meaning (maybe something with catching a "butterfly"), there is no denying that "uiltje" is the owl that the exhausted man or woman is trying to catch... feathery...soft...tiny...and evasive...
There are many more ways to say (or hide) how you will spent your time after lunch -
but even my Dutch docent was flabbergasted when I served her my finest find:
"Ik ga een Engelse brief schrijven"
- isn't that a very genteel way to hide the truth of napping?
To write an ENGLISH letter (or better: write a letter in English)
is evidenty such a difficult affair
that absolutely nobody should dare to disturb your concentration!