Me no work right now go away


Yes, we know exactly what the poor ATM is trying to say and yes the ABN AMRO bank usually has a very colourful and well written four-language “this machine is out of order” message, which appeared later on that day. However, this must have been something special and so I caught just in time. For the record, it should be “temporarily” (adverb) and not “temporary” (adjective).

What surprises me is that this message appeared on an ATM in the district of Slotervaart in Amsterdam where about 60% of the residents are of foreign origin, many of which are quite old and either cannot read at all or do not function in Dutch, let alone English. The proof that there are senior citizens just around the corner is confirmed by an actual phone booth, most of which were removed throughout the country except in places with a high concentration of elderly people.

Of course, they get the message, so to speak, but I’m still surprised it was in some sort of English.

So for my Dutch friends who keep telling me they don’t know and myself, an adverb is a “bijwoord” and and adjective is a “bijvoeglijk naamwoord”.

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9 Responses to “Me no work right now go away”

  1. Jeroen says:

    “Geld” is still in Dutch… 😉

  2. Larry says:

    There also seems to be a space before the exclamation mark, which is not correct in either Dutch or English.

  3. Dario says:

    It’s a long way to temporary, it’s a long way to go.

  4. Koos says:

    Thank you to Larry for pointing that out. I thought I was the only one getting annoying with improper spacing around punctuation like that.

    I have two questions for you Natasha. Would you consider this a typical case of Dunglish? Cause this mix-up of adjective vs. adverb is something I’ve come across in the US occasionally (Apple’s slogan “think different” comes to mind).

    And secondly, not directly related, but about the title of the article. What is your opinion on the deliberate errors in language? Anywhere from the street talk being written down (“Ionno, ask yo momma”) to the text message/internet speak (“I lessthanthree U IRL” where lessthanthree is <3 which resembles a heart if you tilt your head to the right) to the lolcatspeak (“I can haz cheezburger?”).

  5. Natashka says:

    I consider this typical Dunglish or simply bad English. Apple’s logo is correct because it is an imperative: “think different, think big house, think lots of money.” That sort of thing.

    And Iolcat speak is funny because it’s deliberate while a huge Dutch bank just cannot spell 🙂

  6. tux_rocker says:

    The bit about translating “adverb” and “adjective” reminds me of a linguistics course I took at Universiteit Utrecht a few years ago. My fellow students, who’d all learned the Dutch names for all the parts-of-speech (“woordsoorten”) when they were twelve or thirteen, exclusively used the English terms from the textbook during the course. I wonder if they even knew what English term corresponds with what Dutch term. It felt like they were just resonating those words without knowing what they meant.

  7. Eric B says:

    Hm, ‘t is iets gecompliceerder dan “a huge Duch bank just cannot spell”. Ten eerste schrijft die bank hun software natuurlijk niet zelf, maar kopen ze die van Ordina, CCV of Getronics, dus je wijst hier de verkeerde schuldige aan. Ten tweede: het Nederlands gebruikt “tijdelijk” voor zowel het bijvoeglijk naamwoord als het bijwoord: een tijdelijke flappentap is tijdelijk buiten gebruik 😉

    Verder akn ik me helemaal in tux’ commentaar vinden. Het is voor mij bijvoorbeeld te lang geleden, dat ik het verschil tussen verbuigen en vervoegen heb geleerd en daarmee heb ik ook verloren welk van de twee nu vertaald wordt met ‘to conjugate’ en welke met ‘to decline’. 😀

  8. Dunglish » Blog Archive » Coporate Dunglish - not so easy! says:

    […] Schiphol Airport. We’ve talk about this before, big coporations not understanding the difference between adverbs and adjectives, as they are written the same way in […]

  9. Tomas says:

    What is this Temporary? And why is it out of service? 🙂

    A common Dutch mistake, though I get the impression the Americans do it too some times.

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