How come Dutch people are so good at languages?

Le Bouffon   Wednesday, September 29, 2004, 15:28 GMT
It's only called "capote anglaise" if it's small.
Easterner   Wednesday, September 29, 2004, 18:58 GMT
"Take French leave" is "take English leave" in Hungarian. I wonder if there is a similar expression in French...
Maya l'abeille   Wednesday, September 29, 2004, 20:42 GMT
Oh, yes Easterner, there is one!
We say "take English leave" as well — "filer à l'anglaise" — which means "run away quickly and descreetly".

Another expression with the Dutch, hardly ever used I think, is "to go Dutch with somebody" which means to share the cost of something. This is not very offensive, is it?

I've never heard of any of the French expressions you mentioned.
But here are some others I can think of.

fort comme un Turc = strong as a Turkish person
c'est du Chinois (lit: this is Chinese) = it's all Greek to me
va te faire voir chez les Grecs (lit: go show yourself to the Greeks) = get lost [old-fashioned]
chateau en Espagne = castle in the sky (lit: castle in Spain)
crème Anglaise (lit: English cream) = custard
clé Anglaise (lit: English key) = er... a sort of tool, can't find the translation

As for "capote anglaise", now we just say "capote".
Maya l'abeille   Wednesday, September 29, 2004, 20:44 GMT
Bouffon, tu portes bien ton nom, pas vrai?
Andrew   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 05:33 GMT
Actually, as we've mentioned a few times on this forum, Frisian is supposed to be the closest-related language to English. They use a lot of those "a"s where the Dutch and Germans would just use an extra "a", i.e. "boat" instead of "boot". I don't know anything about its pronunciation though.
Mi5 Mick   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 05:43 GMT
une clef anglaise = a shifting spanner
Easterner   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 06:33 GMT
>>clé Anglaise (lit: English key) = er... a sort of tool, can't find the translation<<

>>une clef anglaise = a shifting spanner<<

Tres interessant, on l'appelle "clef Francaise" (traduction exacte) en hongrois. Drole, n'est-ce pas? :-) (It's called "French key" in Hungarian)
Easterner   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 07:00 GMT
Some expressions from Hungary:
"Be in a Czech state" (literally): to be very badly off.
"Catch a Turk": to be left with an unexpected problem that is likely to keep you involved for long.

Interestingly, those expressions are mostly neutral or negative, and only very seldom positive. Don't you have the same feeling?

Interestingly, we have relatively little nationality-related expressions in Hungarian, but on the other hand there are quite jocular names for almost all neighbouring people (mostly those who used to live on the territory of the former Kingdom of Hungary before WWI): Slovaks, Romanians, Serbians, Germans and even Italians. Sometimes they can take on a derisive connotation (depends on the actual realtionship with those peoples). It's similar to "Sassenach" being used for the English, but those we have are generally much less offensive. I wonder if you have such names in your country as well?
Mi5 Mick   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 07:46 GMT
Very funny, those two expressions in Hungarian. :)
Does that first one mean : to feel Czech, or to be in a state of the Czech Republic? ;P

Well they're usually only positive when they relate to the language's host culture. Otherwise they're negative or neutral, as you say:

- a Chinese burn ~ to cause pain by crimpling of the skin.
- a German sense of humour ~ bad or sick humour; humourless.
- Lebanese back (syndrome) ~ to fake a back injury in order to get a payout or time off work.
- more Chins than a Chinese phone book ~ someone fat as can be seen around the face.
Damian   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 07:57 GMT
To "Welsh" means running away from a debt. It can also be spelt "Welch" but only rarely. It's historical when Wales was separate from the ancient kingdoms of England and Offa, King of Mercia (much of present day western England bordering Wales) built a dyke in the 8th century (still there today) as a defence against the Welsh, who used to storm the borders and raid the English and steal from them then run back into Wales. Welshmen are called Taffy, just as Scots are called Jock. It's from those early days and the border raids the English created the verse:
Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief
Taffy came to my house and stold a piece of beef

I don't know if the Welsh have a nickname (offensive or otherwise) for the English, in the same way as we use Sassenach. I will try and check it out.
Damian   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 08:01 GMT
typo: stold=stole
Easterner   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 08:11 GMT
As I know, the first one refers to the condition of the then-time Bohemia (present-day Czechia) during the Thirty Years' War. The second one has to do with the time when Hungary was under Turkish rule (16-17th century). Interestingly enough, the Turkish people have a very positive attitude towards Hungary nowadays, we are treated very well in Turkey (have no experience whatsoever the other way round, though: the only Turks I ever see in Hungary are truck drivers).

And another bonus expression: "Numerous as the Russians" - speaks for itself, doesn't it? (one may wonder about the connotation...)
Easterner   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 08:12 GMT
The previous post was addressed to Mi5 Mick.
Mi5 Mick   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 08:19 GMT
Yes, I imagined, Easterner.
Jordi   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 10:53 GMT
A few classical Spanish ones, just for your information:
Trabajar como un chino: To work as a Chinaman (non-stop, long hours, and very little pay.
Hacerse el sueco: To act as a Swede (to pretend no to understand, to play dumb, to turn a deaf ear)
La Pérfida Albión: (The treacherous Albion; England and only England of course, not the rest of the UK.)
Hacer un francés: To do a Frenchy (it involves the mouth and another male organ).
Hacer el amor griego: To do Greek love. (It also involves two males and two different roles.)
Disciplina inglesa: English discipline (sado-masochism).
Gabacho: fro, froggy, Frenchy.
Cuadrado como un alemán: As square as a German. (it's hard for them to change their minds.)
Moros en la costa! Moors on the shore! Meaning impending danger. We must remember that Moorish coastal raids were common until the 18th century.
I must say that a lot of this also goes/went on amongst Spanish nationalities and regions and even between neighbouring villages and cities.