Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kanker Luiers - Lost in Translation

Once again, big trouble in little Hemonystraat.

Someone has vandalized the Taco Mundo with the following message:

"Brommer vrij Hemonyplein kanker luiers ! "

Which presents translation problems.

The folks over at GeenStijl are having a field day with it.

Actually, the GeenStijl/Dumpert headline, "Look An Angry Small Business Owner," kind of misunderstands the situation.

It's not the store owner who's mad (other than than his store got vandalized).

Let me explain. But first of all, let me say I deny any involvement.

I think the basic idea has to be, this is an expression of anger by a local about the Taco Mundo employees riding their scooters too fast over Hemony square, where lots of kids play. Including mine.

So the first part is "(keep) Hemony square scooter free" or "Hemony square (should be) scooter-free."

Kanker luiers = "cancer-diapers," presumably a play on the common Dutch insult kankerlijer or "cancer-sufferer."

Yep, that's really a normal insult here. There's a whole range of sickness and disease insults.

But "cancer diapers" instead of "cancer sufferer." The pronunciation is close. Assuming it's not a mistake (which can't be ruled out), what are we to think?

As if the message was scrawled by a gang of tough toddlers who call themselves the cancer diapers?

Or as if the author wishes to portray Taco Mundo couriers as so young they are still wearing diapers, which are cancerous?

The mind boggles.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I just read this amusing article about insults in different countries
It seems that Holland is the only country in which diseases are used to insult people. Something to do with our calvinistic origins when diseases were seen as a punishment from God. Also the Netherlands and Norway are the only countries where calling someone 'rude' is not considered much of an insult. It's for the Dutch also common to use genitals as an insult but sexual acts are rarely used. The Brits and Americans are much more into the sexual acts (fucking this and that). The Norwegians prefer the devil and the Germans like anal insults :-).

has been deleted said...

"calling someone 'rude is not considered much of an insult"

it figures.

Toby Sterling said...

@Norma @Anjuli

Yes, there's something truly breathtaking about the sickness insults here. In general, Dutch insults are bracing, exhilirating. Arabic may be more colorful, but the Dutch are more cutting. Nothing better than a straight: doodfallen. Or: Rot op.

Calling someone 'rude' here is like saying: you're so DUTCH!

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