29 January 2015

(Mis)Adventures in Dutch

Learning languages is never easy (if you say otherwise I'll consider you either a liar or a wizard). I've been working on my Dutch with official lessons for nearly 2 years now; and I've come a long way, but my Dutch is by no means perfect. Sometimes I start to feel smug with my progress, and when I do, something happens to put me back in my place and all becomes right again with the universe.

Yesterday, I was at the Kruidvat (a sort of druggist) looking for eye drops. Nothing fancy, just plain old eye drops to help my eyes from shriveling up like raisins in all the direct wind they take on the bike. For the life of me, I couldn't find them - even though I was standing in front of them I was distracted by the colorful boxes of tea on the next shelf. So I found someone with an official shirt and asked where the eye drops stood. Except I didn't really ask that at all.

Ace: Waar staan de oogdropjes? (Where are the eye "dropjes"?)
Unlucky store employee: *question mark forms over face* ... Dropjes? ... Voor ogen? (Dropjes? For eyes?)
Ace: Dat klopt. Dropjes. Voor ogen. (That's right. Dropjes. For eyes.)

Now, there are some words in English that translate directly over to Dutch with a slightly different inflection or pronunciation. "Drops" is not one of those words. A drop is called druppel in Dutch. In the Netherlands, a dropje is a sort of licorice candy. I call it a candy because it's in the candy aisle at the grocery store, but it's not the sweet licorice that I knew in America. It's extra strong anise flavor sometimes used as a candy but also as a sort of throat lozenge. Most people outside of the Netherlands can't handle it - as evidenced by these videos provided by Stuff Dutch People Like.

Oldtimers Mildzoute hindelooper ruitjesdrop
Dropjes: Available at your local
Albert Heijn or other fine retailer.

No wonder the poor woman was so confused. I was asking for EYE LICORICE.

Unlucky store employee: ... Bedoelt u oogdruppels? (Do you mean eye drops?)
Ace: Oh. Ja. Oogdruppels. (Oh. Yes. Eye drops.)

At least I didn't unwittingly volunteer myself for something again.

What's your favorite language mix up experience? Did you laugh it off or run out of the room covering your face?

***Don't forget! This coming Sunday, February 1 the blog officially transfers over to Ace the Adventure with it's own domain name.***


  1. Haha eye licorice that would be unique!!

    1. She was looking at me like I already had licorice in my eyes, haha! I can only imagine what was going on in her head...

  2. Ha! When we lived in Turkey, I would ask for "çorap" instead of "çorba" at a restaurant. So basically I was ordering socks instead of soup until I finally learned. ;-)

    1. HAHA! I hope you never ended up with sock soup! =)


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