When things go wrong

When things go wrong

There is no shortage of examples of steenkolenengels making the rounds. At best, they elicit an easy-going chuckle, but, at worst, they can seriously undermine your credibility. Here are some of our favourite (as well as most common) examples:

  • False friends like “actual”, “solicit”, “eventual” – or even “good day”
  • Former Dutch prime-minister Joop den Uyl is said to have once remarked that “the Dutch are a nation of undertakers”.
  • “The straw that broke the camel’s back” is “the drop that makes the bucket overflow” in Dutch.
  • “Throw a spanner in the works” is “throw sand in the machine” in Dutch.
  • This commercial by Dutch power company Eneco has a humorous take on the issue.

The websites steenkolenengels.com and dunglish.nl provide many more comical examples. Here are some highlights that made us giggle:

  • I always get my sin: ik krijg altijd mijn zin.
  • Make that the cat wise: maak dat de kat wijs.
  • We go in sea with you: wij gaan in zee met jou.
  • You are on glad ice: jij begeeft je op glad ijs.
  • I know from the hood and the rand: ik weet van de hoed en de rand.
  • Now breaks my wooden shoe: nu breekt mijn klomp.
  • I’m not crazy Henkie: ik ben gekke Henkie niet.
  • Bad luck birds: pechvogels.
  • He is over the horse lifted: hij is over het paard getild.
  • I have you in the holes: ik heb je in de gaten.
  • There comes the monkey out of the sleeve: daar komt de aap uit de mouw.

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