Hoe is de slang?

One of the nutty phrases found in phrasebooks is “J’avais la plume de ma tante”, totally inappropriate if you really want to learn French unless of course you do have your aunt’s pen and you want to tell the world about it, equally bizarre in Dutch-English phrasebooks is the phrase  “Hoe de slang? De slang is dood” which means “How is the snake? The snake is dead.”
Our snakes are pretty well alive. Here was one which popped his head up between showers today, it is warm enough but as soon as the rain started, off it went, down into the immense sandstone blocks which make up the reservoir wall where about a dozen of them live.

This sign, hilarious, plastered all over our adjoining town, on lamp posts, wire fences and anything it can be wired to.
As someone who understands and speaks reasonable Dutch, a smidgeon of German and French as well as fluent Australian, I’ve gloated many’s the time about the inability of Brits to get their parochial tongues around the easiest foreign word, never mind phrases. I reckon this is either a brilliant ploy to attract attention or an honest mistake. First someone wrote it out, then someone printed it, then someone posted it with LDIL all over the town and adjoining villages. Surely someone must have noticed? It’s not as though it’s a long word is it, such as Kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamheden which means “preparation activities for a children’s carnival procession”, the longest Dutch word by the way. I wonder how they’d spell ALDI or NETTO or even dare I say it, there is a shop called RAFT that flogs furniture, what anagram could they come up with for that? Gulp! Sorry the quality is a bit naff I reckon I uploaded the wrong image but it’s readable.







  1. I can remember my Dad saying something like this

    Het naakte gezicht van bodemvarkens

    He was referring to an interfering neighbour. Think I have spelt it right…. and on thinking back he was probably correct as she did have a face like this.

    P xx


  2. Lovely macro of the snake.

    I recall a Latin phase my ex husband used to use all the time (he’d learned Latin at school)to the effect of don’t let those “bar stewards” grind you down – seems appropriate for the day I’m having!


  3. Well I’m glad that de slang is alive and well. A very handsome one too.

    The sign made me laugh. You reckon that Brits can’t speak other languages very well. I reckon we can’t even speak our own language very well if you look at the example on market stalls and various hand-written signs on some shops windows (the well-known ‘greengrocer’s apostrophe’ is a good example). Makes me ashamed to be english… :))
    btw your longest word looks to be longer than the longest german word – bundesverfassungsgericht (a german federal court for those who don’t speak german).


    • We noticed the sign last week. Astrid specialises in looking for the greengrocer’s apostrophe, seeing as she is from Holland she thinks it is hilarious. Then in Holland we noticed an advert for inktvis (squid, literally inkfish) and it had a big picture of an octopus. Paradoxically, an octopus has ink and a squid doesn’t, such are the vagaries of the Dutch language.


    • It’s similar to Nederlands isn’t it, Astrid understands most of it and when she met a south African teacher at my sister’s birthday they conversed quite easily.


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