Posted by: Tony Carson | 17 September, 2007

On slagging the Dutch

Ridiculing your enemy has been around for as long as antipathy. And the taunt-speak of animosities can endure long after the enemies become friends.

Take the Dutch, for instance. According to this Globe and Mail piece Dutch treat? Courage? the English language has 150 derogatory terms for the once hated low-landers, all of them inspired by historic enmities:

THE QUESTION: “Why is the English language so cruel to the Dutch, as in Dutch treat, Dutch courage, Dutch wife, etc.?” asks Frank Kutas of Don Mills, Ont.

THE ANSWER: “Colonial trade rivalry between the English and the Dutch became hostile in the 17th century,” writes Mike Hengeveld of Vancouver. “Over the course of two wars, well over 150 derogatory terms have been created by the English invariably suggesting the Dutch as cheap, cowardly, stubborn, ignorant, etc.”

Another popular expression he has heard is, “If ya ain’t Dutch, ya ain’t much.”

So, do you know any? Minus the three mentioned here, there are 147 left to choose from. And what’s ‘a Dutch wife?’


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