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neef/neefje

Discussion in 'Nederlands (Dutch)' started by Syzygy, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. Syzygy Senior Member

    German
    Hi, everyone.

    Do neef and neefje mean the same thing in Dutch or is the former used for cousin and the latter for nephew?
    And if they are synonymous, is it common practice to explicitly explain the relationsship with, say, "de zoon van mijn tante" before using these words in a conversation so as to avoid confusion?
    I imagine the same applies to nicht/nichtje.

    Thanks!
     
  2. HKK

    HKK Senior Member

    3010 Leuven, Be.
    Dutch/Belgium
    It's pretty blurry actually. The diminutive can make the difference between cousin and nephew/niece but it can also depend on the age of the subject or even the age of the speaker. When the relation is not clear, the distinction is made as you said. However, the potential meanings of the diminutive often amount to the same thing since your nephew/niece will usually be younger than you, making confusion less common than one may expect.
     
  3. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    Just as a side note: in Belgium (and I think, only in Belgium), also the word "kozijn" is used to mean cousin (only for male relatives; there is no equivalent for female relatives).
     
  4. NewtonCircus Senior Member

    Singapore
    Dutch (Belgium)
    Dag Syzygy,

    Neef/Nicht = Cousin
    Neefje = Nephew
    Nichtje = Niece

    Confusion hardly exists in reality since it is very uncommon to address a cousin as neefje unless you purposely want to belittle him or get cosy with him. In the same way you would call your 50-year old younger brother "little brother". Calling your nephew neef is also unusual since we tend to use first names after a certain age.

    Groetjes Herman

    PS: Like most Dutch words used to describe family relationships nicht has a derogatory/vulgar/offensive meaning as well whenever used for a non-relative.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012
  5. Lopes

    Lopes Senior Member

    Brussels
    Dutch (Amsterdam)
    I would say,
    neef/nicht: cousin/nephew/niece
    neefje/nichtje: cousin/nephew/niece

    It all depends on the context.


    No, it's not. And this thread is not only about addressing.

    Again, it's not that unusual, and not only about addressing.



    Like which?
     
  6. NewtonCircus Senior Member

    Singapore
    Dutch (Belgium)
    Lets say that we both agree to disagree :).

    You mean you call your colleague nicht and a busdriver grootvader?. That is nice :D.

    Groeten Herman
     
  7. Lopes

    Lopes Senior Member

    Brussels
    Dutch (Amsterdam)
    You already mentioned nicht. I don't think my busdriver would be very offended if I called him zoon, vader, oom, neef, oudoom, zwager, stiefvader, schoonzoon, etc.
     
  8. NewtonCircus Senior Member

    Singapore
    Dutch (Belgium)
    Dag Lopes,
    Am I the only one who thinks that you can't "safely" tell the following to a busdriver or gas station attendant?

    Vader/oudoom, een ticket naar Gent.
    Broer, gooi hem maar vol.


    Groetjes Herman
     
  9. Sjonger Senior Member

    Netherlands
    Dutch - Netherlands
    I agree with Herman that calling someone vader, zoon, opa, tante, zus is usually negatively connotated, though in my opinion it's not necessarily offensive. It's indeed not very polite to adress the bus driver as vader/oom/opa, but you could i.e. say to a friend who is a bit slow: he tante, schiet eens wat op. I'm also under the impression that this use of family relations is becoming less common (with exception of nicht, but that's also more specific than vader, zoon, etc.)
     
  10. HKK

    HKK Senior Member

    3010 Leuven, Be.
    Dutch/Belgium
    That would strike me as so unexpected and ludicrous that I wouldn't even think of getting offended ;)
     
  11. marinus New Member

    The Hague
    Dutch
    I wonder if there have been terms to differentiate between neef/neefje and nicht/nichtje in older variants of the Dutch language, that eventually have become obsolete.
     
  12. marinus New Member

    The Hague
    Dutch
    Looked it up in an online Dutch etymological dictionary and found the words 'cousijn', 'cosijn' and 'kozijn', borrowed from Old French 'cosin'. Funnily enough, the word 'kozijn' also means 'window/door frame', and that word is still in use.
    More information at etymologiebank.nl: 'kozijn'.
     
  13. Lopes

    Lopes Senior Member

    Brussels
    Dutch (Amsterdam)
    I don't know if you're the only one, but I don't agree with you ;)
    Like HKK said, it would just be strange, not offensive.
     
  14. matakoweg Junior Member

    Bij ons in Noord-Holland wordt ook de term "oomzegger", "oomzegster" gebruikt om onderscheid te maken tussen neef in de betekenis cousin en nephew.
     

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