I’m all Dutch. My maternal great-grandparents immigrated from Holland in the late 1800’s. With them they brought their deep belief in God, a hard work ethic, wooden shoes, and their language. Some which still lingers nearly 150 years later. That’s pretty amazing. While I wholeheartedly embrace “if you are going to live and work here, please learn our language. Then become citizens, abide by our Constitution, accept and love this country as your own.” Part of me loves the fact that in 2014, at least a few words of how they described stuff still lives in me. Not many, and how I wish I had learned more of the Dutch language. I’m really quite surprised by this. Not the part about me not paying closer attention. I was a self-centered spoiled brat. But the part about not learning more just because I heard it so much. I didn’t and that’s what surprises me. My maternal grandpa Gerrit Wanningen in the middle with his parents (my great-grandparents) and sister Jenny.
|My great grandparents, grandpa Lakey, and sis, Jenny…|
Mom was raised basically by 2 sets of Dutch grandparents. Her mom died before she and Floyd were 2 weeks old. She learned to speak Dutch before English. My Dad was Dutch too, but I don’t know how many generations back his family immigrated to the U.S. Yet Dutch was not spoken very much at our house. When Mom and Dad were talking about something or someone that they didn’t want my “nosey ears to memorize verbatim,” then use at a later date when totally inappropriate. Or keep until I needed good blackmail material, they would have a running Dutch conversation, but not very often. My paternal grandparents, Arie and Bessie Gerritson.
|My paternal grands, Arie and Bessie Gerritson…|
I did learn a lot of what was going on once in a while by sneaking down to the second or third step of our enclosed staircase after I’d gone to bed. I could hear them talk in the kitchen. They didn’t talk, really talk very often, and if they were in the den or living room, forget about it. It was too far away, but the words came through very clear between the kitchen and the staircase. Had to pay attention though. If I heard the chair legs scrape the linoleum, I had to hustle up those old steep steps. So very careful not to hit any of the creaks. Yup, I knew where all the creaks and squeaks were located on every step. Yet just a few years later when I consistently tried to sneak in after curfew, Mom had secretly installed her mysterious-bat-radar-stair-creaking-hearing-device and I got caught every stinking time.
I digress, back to Neese-speaks-Dutch. While whole conversations were not an everyday occurrence, certain words or phrases were. Thinking about the most popular ones, I have to say many of them tended to have a negative vibe. One though was a term of endearment Mom often used for me. KLANE-A-MAASHIE, means little girl. I have absolutely no idea how to spell any of them, so we’re going with phonics. Loosely spelled according to the way they were pronounced and definitions used in the Gerritson house. Going a step further, most would probably be lost in translation if I were to use them now in the Netherlands. Rock Valley Dutch folks seemed to have their own take on pronunciation. Plus over the years, mixing in a marriage to another Dutch person. Therefore we continued to mix and mash up these words. But my words nonetheless. Back by popular demand it’s my top 10 Dutch words, totally-Gerritson-fractured, but you get my drift. Drum roll please.
1. PLU-SHE: a piece of lint or fuzzy on clothing or carpet. My Mom could spot one from 30 feet, handing out detailed directions for retrieval to the nearest person.
2. AGG-A-WASE: being stubborn or pig-headed, bordering on a melt-down.
3. ZHAN-ICK: my favorite, means whining or begging until you got your way for candy, toy, movie, or shopping trip. I ruled with this word as a kid. Not proud, just the way it was.
4. SPUUT: making fun or mocking religion or God, never funny or acceptable.
5. FEECE: not very clean, you wouldn’t want to eat supper at their house.
6. HAU-KEE : an add-on room or shack.
7. BEN-OUT: stuffy, hot, tired or frazzled.
8. OOF-DA: heavy or too much of something.
9. SOT: really sick and tired of this.
10. MIS-LICK: not feeling well.
There were literally hundreds of Dutch words and phrases families used in my tiny corner of northwest Iowa daily. Even writing them with their odd Gerritson definitions gives me comfort. Takes me back to my childhood, the good and the not-so-good, but a big part of what makes me–me. About the title of this itty-bitty-Dutch-blog, hut-fa-duttie means “oh shit.” Heh-tah, too yet….