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Dutch customs


Cursing in Holland is often considered anti-social

The Dutch generally consider coarse language impolite, uncivil — Asociaal.

The verb for "cursing" (vloeken) derives from the noun (vloek) in much the same way that "cursing" is related to "a curse" in English. But in Dutch, the association seems closer.

Using the word Godverdomme is "very bad." (As I've been told more than once.) Godverdomme is, literally, a curse. It is as if you're calling down the condemnation of God. Never mind that the Dutch are amongst the most secular people on earth. The word is not appropriate in polite company.

Most of the Dutch swearwords in common use are fairly tame. (However, "fuck" is uttered in rather flat, casual tones — but that's English, not Dutch, so it's somewhat innocuous, even though everybody knows that it's the grand lady of English-language swearwords.)

The following are some items that I picked up during my times in The Netherlands:

Godverdomme Essentially "God damn it," but more serious. (Not to be used in polite company.)
Gatverdamme (Gat means "hole" or "gap," or your own "hole.") Diminutive of Godverdomme; and a more-usable form. Gatverdamme usually has a connotation of "disgusting."
Godverdorie Diminutive, usable, ladylike, almost childish form of Godverdomme Often further diminished to gatverderrie
Potverdorie A further-diminutive form of Godverdorie
Lul Cock, prick [Phys. as well as fig.] Sonofabitch, asshole, etc....
Eikel Acorn, testicle [literal.] Sonofabitch, asshole, etc....
Klootzak Ball sack [literal.] Sonofabitch, asshole, etc....
Gelul Bullshit, balls. That's ridiculous; you're full of shit.
Kut [n., adj.] Cunt [Phys. as well as fig.] Derisive reference to a woman. Not as vulgar as the English parallel. Also used as adjective; a "kut boek" is a book you don't like.
Wijf Bitch
Kutwijf An obvious combination...
Trut Frump, cow (fig.) Derisive reference to a woman
Smeerlap swine, bastard
Sukkel sucker, dope

One important feature of Dutch cursing that I did not notice when I was in the country is the use of the names of diseases, which several readers have informed me is common. This, then, is real cursing. Real nasty stuff, dirty apart from any religious ideology or affiliation. Kanker (cancer,) tyfus (typhoid,) etc., often compounded with "lijder," or "sufferer." That's cursing, alright — and possibly an indication of why the general practice is considered antisocial.

The Bond Tegen Het Vloeken (Anti-Cursing League) defines Vloeken as the misuse of the name of God or Jesus. (For the latter term, I have to mention, there is at least one diminutive: jeetje.) They and others use a whole set of terms which categorize various forms of "coarse language." Vloeken, or true cursing, is the most serious.

The following seem to be (amongst those concerned) the generally-agreed categories of coarse Dutch language:

Scheldwoorden Derisive terms — sukkel, eikel, etc.
Schuttingwoorden The equivalent of the English-language "Four-letter word;" obscenity without the derisive element of the scheldwoord. Kut (in sense of "dammit;") gelul (bullshit,) etc.
Vloeken Name of God or Jesus used disrespectfully Godverdomme, Godverdorie; Jezus, jeetje
Bastaardvloeken Diminutive or derived forms of vloeken Potverdorie, gatverdomme, jeetje
Verwensingen Expressing negative wishes Val dood (drop dead) etc. — and disease-related curses
The Dutch consider harsh language an important cultural matter; and so — being Dutch — they discuss it. One manifestation of this is the mere existence of the Bond Tegen het Vloeken, the anti-cursing league, which in fact is well-known and is considered a serious cultural institution.*

* Beginning in 2012, the Bond Tegen het Vloeken decided not to display their name on posters because research into their public image showed that people find the organization "dull, outdated, extreme, stupid and pathetic."
  — Wikipedia.nl **

** Begin 2012 besluit de Bond om haar naam niet meer op de posters te vermelden omdat uit image-onderzoek blijkt dat mensen de organisatie 'suf, achterhaald, extreem, dom en zielig' vinden.