The blogging / writing 101 assignments – Day 7: Hook ’em with a quote

Death of the gladiolus!

” I have to look to the fitness of my players… It is a Gladiolus game… The death of the gladiolus, or you are dead or you receive the gladiolus flower”  – Louis van Gaal

I grew up with speaking more American – English and one of my best friends is from the UK. You can imagine the hilarious moments we had when I was asking about panties and meant trousers, we had aubergine for dinner where I was absolutely sure it was eggplant, I asked her to open the trunk of the car and she did not know what the hell I was talking about… The list goes on and on. But these examples are not that bad, I mean it’s just English to English right?

What you should not do is to literally translate from Dutch into English. Why not? Because you might end up in weird conversations like the above excerpt from an interview. My English teacher once explained to me that it is important to try and think in the language you want to master. Only then you will be able to let go of this habit of literally translating. Of course, it helps when you get the opportunity to practice and you should not be afraid to speak because you might mess up.

Even at work or on holidays, I have heard a few wonderful conversations that brought the tears to my eyes. Dutch people in general have the habit to construct the most wonderful phrases in English. If I tell you that a book has been published with these Dutch to English phrases, I think you guessed how bad it is.

A few real life examples:

  • How do you do and how do you do your wife?
  • What do you?
  • You should never look a given horse in the back.
  • I do not want to fall with the door in house. (popular one, I’ve heard it a couple of times)
  • Where did your rice go to?

Hilarious isn’t it? But hey, I’ve got to give people credit for trying.

As I give credit to Louis van Gaal. British English is so much more fun since he introduced a few magnificent phrases. And he is not afraid to try, that is what counts! And making sure Manchester United wins all matches of course.


What Louis meant to say was based on a Dutch saying ” Dood of de Gladiolen”, meaning all or nothing. The phrase seems to originate from Roman times, where the victor of a gladiator duel would be garlanded in gladiolus.

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