Dat was niet de bedoeling
An incredibly handy Dutch phrase to know is ‘dat was niet de bedoeling’. This phrase is most commonly used in the Netherlands during the Sinterklaas season but can be heard all year round actually.
1. The off-colour ‘grapje’
2. During intellectual anthropological discussions
Dutch person: “You Americans are all fat and racist”
Kut American expat: “Oh my god! I can’t believe you just said that. That’s really rude”
At this point, the person who made the insult has two choices:
- Claim that they’re Dutch and are direct, not rude
- Say, “are you offended? Dat was niet de bedoeling! My god, nowadays you can’t say ANYTHING without people being offended”.
When caught red-handed discriminating against individuals due to their background, religion race etc, always when interviewed by the press the response is ‘dat was niet de bedoeling’. For example, the case of the apartment for rent in Amsterdam whose advert said that it was only for people who cook the western way.
Or the woman who was recently told there were no places available at a school for her Moroccan daughter, but when she applied using a Dutch name was told that there was a place available. Of course, dat was niet de bedoeling.
Or the incredible number of room rental ads for students where ‘no internationals’ are clearly stated. This, of course, has nothing to do with xenophobia or discrimination. Once more dat was niet de bedoeling.
So to summarise, if you really want to integrate successfully into Dutch society, make sure that when with a group of Dutch people that you say something clearly offensive and then when they object reply, ‘dat was niet de bedoeling!’. Don’t whatever you do admit that you’re wrong and apologise.
No Americans were hurt during the writing of this post
Until next time: ‘Je mag tegenwoordig niets meer zeggen in dit land!’