Advanced Dunglish… the blog

  • Click the heading to read the blog post
  • After opening a post, you can:
    • select various categories such as Punctuation or US-UK issues to find related posts
    • select tags to find other items about the same specific topic
    • leave comments (kan ook in het NL, uiteraard)

Passive avoidance

You may have been taught to avoid passive verbs. They have their place, however, and avoiding them mustn’t distort the meaning.

Highlighting borrowed words

A brief aside for translators: if the author has italicized something merely to emphasize that it’s borrowed from English, there’s no need to take that formatting across!

Psychic distress

Anything to do with the psyche – the human mind or soul, after the goddess of the same name – has to be referred to as “psychological” or “mental”, not “psychic”.

Cowboys and Indonesians

Unusually for European languages, Dutch has retained the word “Indisch” as the demonym for the former East Indies and people are always mistranslating it as “Indian”.

Three contronyms

A word that takes diametrically opposed meanings, depending on the context, can’t be translated with a one-size-fits-all solution into a language where different words are used for those meanings.

English as she is spoken

The Dutch are great communicators who get their message across well in spoken English. But actually putting the spoken word on paper is a pig with a different snout altogether.


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