Nieuws - 1 januari 1970

New dictionary gives simple explanations of Dutch words

New dictionary gives simple explanations of Dutch words

With the new pocket dictionary Dutch as second language, foreigners can
search for Dutch words in a Dutch dictionary without having to look up
difficult words in the explanation. At least that is what the new
dictionary is aiming at.

Using a Dutch dictionary can be troublesome. The word 'gemaal' for instance
has two meanings. It is an old fashioned word for 'de echtgenoot' (the
spouse), but it also stands for ‘pumping station'. The regular Dutch
dictionary, the three-volume Dikke Van Dale defines this as an 'inrichting
voor het bemalen van een polder' (construction for pumping water out of a
polder). But what is an 'inrichting'? What is 'bemalen'? And maybe you
don't even know what the typically Dutch 'polder' is. The new 'Van Dale
Pocketwoordenboek Nederlands als tweede taal' instead describes 'gemaal' as
'een machine die water verplaatst' (a machine that moves water) and this is
illustrated with a small drawing of a building with a pipe and a water

It is the first edition of this dictionary, and it does therefore have some
flaws. Why define 'lekkerbek' as 'iemand die houdt van lekker eten'
(someone who enjoys their food) when it is also the name of one of the most
popular Dutch snacks, fried cod? Is a description of the international term
'quatre-mains' useful? And why describe 'punaise' as a 'een scherp
dingetje, waarmee je papier aan de muur kan hangen' when 'prikbord' is
missing, the board on which many people hang their advertisements for jobs,
dates, houses, rooms, etc, using 'punaises'.

The dictionary does make learning Dutch easier, I think. Instead of having
to break your head on the description 'graangewas met lange, stijve
kafnaalden' (grain with long, stiff husks)- what the hell are
'kafnaalden'!? - for 'gerst' the new dictionary simply states 'een plant
waarvan bijv. bier gemaakt wordt' (a plant from which e.g. beer is made).
In addition the dictionary has short articles on Dutch peculiarities such
as drinks, the landscape, politics, religion and numbers, and sayings are
explained. Even the Dutch TV channels SBS6 and RTL4 are included in the

Van Dale Pocketwoordenboek Nederlands als tweede taal, Van Dale
Lexicografie, ISBN 9066480726, 13.50 euro.

Martin Woestenburg