Woods, forests and jungles

Your everyday, common-or-garden patch of tame and managed countryside is a wood or woodland. Forests are bigger and darker and nastier. Jungles are definitely more exotic.

The usual Dutch term for a large bunch of trees together is bos – a wood or a piece of woodland. But for some reason it always seems to get translated as “forest”.

  • The default mental image of a forest for most English speakers will be less friendly and more scary than a wood. You know – coniferous, ogres, wolves…
  • There are a few phrases where forest does get used although you’re not talking about anything big and wild and nasty; fruits of the forest and Black Forest gateau jump to mind, and one or two formerly wild parts of Britain that are pretty tame now.
  • A jungle or rainforest is tropical and exotic. Reserve that one for genuine gorilla territory or whatever (oerwoud or regenwoud).

It was another case of Friday deadlines preventing me from posting on time, I’m afraid. The day job takes precedence, inevitably.

Prevalence: low. Not a common subject…
Frequency: high. …but what feels like the wrong choice to me gets used quite consistently when it does come up.
Native: hmm. It’s a question of nuances – the words are all fine, of course.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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