Dutch vs Afrikaans vs English

De Kwakels in Zaanse Schans

I love the Dutch language. As a native Afrikaans speaker I’m always giggling when I have to directly translate funny phrases into English.

During our recent visit to Amsterdam, I was continuously laughing at the funny Dutch words everywhere – especially street names.

Here are some of my favourites:

Food and drink related

Gegrilde kip

It took me ages to figure this one out. In Afrikaans gril means to shudder or tremble in particularly where you are grossed out. However, in Dutch it means roasted! Which brings me to kip – the closest we have to that in Afrikaans is kiep which is either slang for to take a nap or a very old Afrikaans word for chicken, but this is not widely known or used anymore. Turns out it does mean chicken. Roasted chicken.

De boterham

In both Dutch and Afrikaans the word brood means bread, but instead of saying a slice of bread, which would be considered normal, the Dutch would say buttered ham instead!


We were browsing a local supermarket for some sandwiches and cheese for a light meal when my gaze met with hagelslag. In Afrikaans and English this will translate to the fine hail that lies white after a quick hailstorm (like the one we had today!). In Dutch, however, it means sprinkles. More specifically sprinkles that you put on buttered bread and then consume it for breakfast. Perhaps this is where Australia’s fairy bread originated from!


At every pub they advertised something called borrel. Now in Afrikaans a borrel is a bubble, however, in Dutch it is the action of having a drink (like gin or beer) and a snack like bitterballen after work. I am assuming it is to do with the bubbles in the drinks that lead to the term. Nevertheless, I love it – it is one of my favourite Dutch and Afrikaans words.

Patatje oorlog

Sweet potato war. I mean, how can that not mean french fries with sauces?


Small squirrel bread. Any ideas? No? I also would never have guessed that this meant porcini mushrooms!

No particular category

De Leraar

This one confused me so much! In Afrikaans a leraar is a church minister, however, in Dutch it means teacher. I didn’t understand why there would be so many dominees (Afrikaans synonym for church minister) at a school! I suppose it makes perfect sense since it is derived from the word leer, which means to learn.


I was giggling at this one way too much – not necessarily because it is hilarious, but more because I love how colourful both the Dutch and Afrikaans languages are. Directly translated ziekenhuis means a sick house. This is of course a hospitaal in Afrikaans or a hospital in English, but the Dutch gets right to the point – ziekenhuis.


This one had me in stitches. Directly translated this means nailed trousers (make of that what you will…). What they mean to say is pair of jeans. I suppose the archaic Afrikaans term is not any better: klinknaelbroek. A sounding fingernail trouser. The metal studs on a pair of jeans are called klinknaels in Afrikaans, hence the term.

Schoonmoeder or schoonvader

Ok, this one is not so funny to me as we say the same thing in Afrikaans (spelled skoonma and skoonpa), but directly translated to English makes it hilarious: clean mother and clean father. Of course this actually means the in-laws: mother-in-law and father-in-law. And you want them to be clean…!


This one I really like. I have no idea how you would even say this in Afrikaans or if there is even a translation for it, but a droeftoeter simply means a person that sucks the life out of you. Those really negative people that should they have a bad day, they will make damn well sure everyone else around them has a bad day. In Afrikaans droef or bedroef means to be sad and toeter is the horn of a car. So, sad horn!

Hilarious street names


The arse of a cat.


Torture ditch.

Oude Braak

Old vomit.


Noisy town way.


This one I really like: happy street. Imagine living in Happy Street

Do you have any you would like to add? Let me know in the comments below!

I have some more posts relating to language:

Translate that!

I’m currently on a bit of a ‘translation’ high. See if you can identify these directly-translated animal names.

Keep reading

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