Bird is the word

What a hoot! The word “beurt” means “turn”, but it also means many things, including “scoring”, and is used in a garden variety of expressions. Garden bird? No thanks!

(Photo: Hans Pruijs)

Bird cage

14 Responses to “Bird is the word”

  1. ivon says:

    That’s very funny! But it’s also quite sad.

  2. stefan says:

    pretty cheap beurt there, there’s certain areas in amsterdam with lots of red lights where you’d probably pay much much more for a beurt.

  3. Larry says:

    Zingende … tuinvogel?


    In my family, our English/Dutch code-switching included things like ‘It’s your beurt to dry the dishes’, which evolved into ‘It’s your Bert’ and occasionally ‘It’s your Ernie’.

  4. Natashka says:

    Good one! I often hear here “I’m going to a borrel” and ” I need to check my agenda”.

    I once had an argument with the tax folks who could not find a major sum of money I had paid them. My Dutch was not great then, so I just said “even Apeldoorn bellen”, which is where the central tax office is, as you may know. The guy on the phone laughed and solved the problem.

    Just felt like telling a story!

  5. ivon says:

    Natashka: I often here […]
    I hope that was intentional? 😉

  6. Natashka says:

    I meant here and then hear and then two clients called 🙂

  7. Serge says:

    Larry — back home, my family had tons of those Dunglish puns, like “Ik vrees de worst”, “Jenever Kentel”, and “Amerika is een leuk land: je naait ‘t steeds!” Unfortunately, my wife and children don’t speak Dutch, so most of that stuff is completely lost on them (and explaining doesn’t do much good, either). Of course, we had a few good ones in other languages, too, like the pun on that famous wine, “Chateauneuf du Pape”: Soixante-neuf du Pape (the pope’s “69”).

  8. Natashka says:

    Worst-kaas scenario…

  9. René says:

    Het voorbeeld van de ‘garden beurt’ en de reactie van Stefan deden me denken aan het gedicht ‘Taalbarrière’ van Kees Torn:

    Ik schrok een beetje van de prijs
    die meer dan honderd pond beliep
    terwijl ik net die speelgoedsijs
    had horen zingen: “cheap, cheap, cheap!”

  10. Larry says:

    English really needs a word like ‘borrel’, though, doesn’t it? Something more substantial than ‘cocktail (party)’ and less prosaic than ‘drink’.

    Somewhere I have a newspaper clipping listing 100+ colloquial Dutch terms for ‘alcoholic beverage’ (borrel, neut, hassebassie, pikketanus, etc.). Tells you something about the culture, eh?

  11. Natashka says:

    Please find clipping! A borrel is a drink, and borrel the occasion is happy hour, or something like that, depending heavily on where you’re from. In French, it’s having “a glass” (prendre un verre). As for words relating to drinking, IMHO the Russian take the cake. I still like zuipen.

    The words related to “kater” are also interesing. In Québec, they have special words for that 🙂

  12. Serge says:

    The closest thing in English to a “borrel” is “to have a snifter” (referring specifically to a cognac glass), but it still doesn’t quite get there.

  13. René says:

    Ewoud Sanders wrote a book with 750 Dutch terms for ‘borrel’: “Borrelwoordenboek, 750 volksnamen voor onze glazen boterham”. You can find a part of his list on

  14. Anonymous Doughboy says:

    Kommt ein Mann zu Hause, trifft er seine Frau mit seinem besten Freund ins Bett. Er greift den Freund und wirft ihm aus das Fenster, während er ihm nachschreit: «wer fögeln kann, kann auch fliegen!»

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