You don’t have to speak Dutch; most Dutch people speak English (and several other languages) quite fluently. In fact, it is sometimes frustrating when you actually DO want to speak Dutch but your Dutch listener automatically flips to English at the slightest hint of an accent! For those of you who wish to learn, ING offers Dutch lessons very inexpensively. But for those of you who want to just get by with English, there are few Dutch phrases it behooves you to learn:
Feitspad: “Bike path.” Important to know, as you do not want to mistake that very inviting looking path as a walkway!
Kijk uit!: “Look out!” Screamed your way when you do walk on the fietspad, or if you are on a bike and get in another biker’s way. Often accompanied by loud pinging bells.
Duewen, and Trek: Push, and Pull. You will see these signs on doors. (If you push when you should have pulled, you can always claim you don’t read Dutch!)
Gezellig: cozy, convivial, sociable, often accompanied by words with the diminutive “je” added to the end, as in “kopje koffie.” Small and cozy is the heart and soul of Dutch sociability – no matter how large and chaotic!
A.U.B.: shortened version of “alstublieft; “please.” A.U.B. is used on signs, such as “no smoking” or “no parking,” and in written instructions. However, the long form is spoken when a service is rendered or requested. The possibilities for sarcasm are endless!
Doei or doe-doie: Bye, or bye bye. I am not sure when this entered the lexicon, but it seems to have replaced “dag,” which means “day” but is used as both a greeting and a farewell. (Similarly, “hoi” is used as hello, often accompanied by three kisses, one on each cheek and then another for good measure on the first cheek.) “Tot ziens” means see you later, and “fijne dag” means have a nice day.
Ring: As far as I can figure, this is a street sign used instead of the name of the really big street on the map that you were sure you could not possibly miss!
Proost: “Cheers!” Important to know on a gezellig night on the town!
W.C.: toilet or bathroom, also important to know on a gezellig night on the town!
getverderrie: a mild expletive used to express disgust, also shortened to “getver.” Useful when stepping in dog droppings or when getting a soaking on your bike from a car splashing through a mud puddle.
Verdorie: a mild version of verdomme (damn it).
Chipknip: a sort of electronic wallet, whereby you can move funds from your Dutch debit card onto a chipknip account and then use the same card to pay, for example, a vending machine or parking garage. You can also get a prepaid chipknip card if you lack a Dutch bank account. All the vending machines at UU require the use of chipknip, so if you desperately need that cup of coffee to get through your 4-hour class and have only coins, you are out of luck! Verdorie!