het gaat wel

MWAH

The sentence het gaat wel is very often misunderstood by English speakers. They interpret it as it goes well, while in reality the meaning is mwah or so-so. Let’s check what Google Translate makes of it.

Original text

A: ‘Hoi, hoe gaat het?’
B: ‘Het gaat wel.’
A: ‘Hoezo, voel je je niet zo lekker?’
B: ‘Nee, ik heb er geen zin in vandaag.’

Manual translation

A: ‘Hi, how are you?’
B: ‘Mwah.’
A: ‘What’s wrong, don’t you feel okay?’
B: ‘No, I don’t feel like doing anything today.’

I put the original text a couple of times through the translator, to see what would happen.

1st Google Translate NL → EN

A: “Hi, how are you?”
B: I’m okay.
A: “Why don’t you feel so good?”
B: No, I don’t feel like it today.

2nd Google Translate EN → NL

A: “Hallo, hoe gaat het?”
B: Ik ben oké.
A: “Waarom voel je je niet zo goed?”
B: Nee, ik heb er vandaag geen zin in.

3rd Google Translate NL → EN

A: “Hi, how are you?”
B: I’m fine.
A: “Why don’t you feel so good?”
B: No, I don’t feel like it today.

Result

As we can see, Google Translate goes wrong on the expression, but also on the punctuation, resulting in an absurd conversation.

Our first lesson is, that we cannot always trust Google Translate, and the second lesson is, that a literal translation of a text is almost always wrong. This goes for every language, not just for Dutch. Every language has their own expressions, that have an ‘inside’ meaning.

How can we avoid making stupid mistakes?

People who don’t make mistakes, usually don’t make anything at all

This quote is attributed to Albert Einstein. Of course he is right. We cannot avoid making mistakes when learning a language and who will tell us the difference between a stupid and an intelligent mistake? The only thing we can do is to accept that we will make mistakes and that this is part of the process of learning Dutch.

TOOLS

Google Translate can still be convenient, but be sure to use it in combination with other tools like context.reverso, woorden.org and your own listening skills.

Of course you can also drop a question in our Facebook group Taaltraining Trancemissie. I will be happy to answer your questions!

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