Paying attention

An attentie in Dutch is a small gift, just a little something to show appreciation. The English word attention doesn’t have that meaning.

It’s quite a Dutch thing sometimes, both at the personal/individual level and in business or commerce: a neatly packaged twee freebie for everyone at the party or attending the course or conference or whatever to take home with them.

  • There isn’t a good single-word solution, so don’t even try. Just call it “a little something” or a “small token of our appreciation”, for example.
  • Reserve the English word ‘attention’ for its correct meaning: listening carefully and paying heed to what’s going on (Dutch aandacht).

It’s time I got back do doing these posts: the blog has been superseded by a different major project for the last couple of weeks or so (I’ve been learning some Spanish; don’t ask). But don’t worry – I’ve nowhere near run out of material yet.

Prevalence: moderate. Not something that comes up often, but the proportion of Dutch speakers who get it wrong is surprisingly high.
Frequency: low. A spoken error more often than a written one.
Native: no. A very confusing one for the native speakers.

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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