The Perils Of Trying To Be Clever In Any Language Other Than Your Native One

Did you know that Sir John Major’s career as British Prime Minister was finished as a result of a Treaty which was signed on another planet in our Solar System???

The above is the only conclusion I can come to whenever I hear UK journalists and Politicians discuss the Treaty which was actually signed in a Dutch city I have visited called Maastricht.  Please note – there is no “r” in the first part of the name. The closest pronunciation to an accurate rendition of the placename (for English speakers) is “Mass-tricht”.

Today I caught a glimpse of the back page of one of the UK tabloids – where I found what was actually a reasonable attempt at a pun on a Dutch surname.  Well, Dijk and Strijk rhyme when pronounced correctly (they both also rhyme with the English “strike” – which was what I think the headline writer was trying to go for).  However, if a Dutch person utters the word “Strijk” they are not talking about withdrawal of labour as an act of protest – they are talking about ironing.

I have blogged before about how it really hurts my ears when Dutch names are so badly mangled by English speakers that I have to see them written down in order to understand them.

It is all very well trying to make jokes and puns using a language which is not your native one. However, might I suggest that you try to learn enough of the other language so you don’t run the risk of causing offence when you do???

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