There is a Dutch word . . . verongelijktheid, to be wronged, not by an individual so much as by the world at large. You often see it in the way the much-heralded national team plays soccer.

Proud of their superior skills, their multicultural makeup, the almost mocking manner of their free-flowing play, maddening the players of more prosaic teams, like Germany, the stars of Dutch soccer usually start their games with all the swagger of swinging Amsterdam. In their playful individualism, their progressive daringness, they know they are the best. And sometimes they are. But when things go against them and the plodding Germans, or the bloody-minded Italians, or the cussed English, go up a goal or two, the heads slump, the bickering starts, and the game is lost in a sour mood of verongelijktheid. Why did this have to happen to us? What did we do to deserve this? Aren’t we the best? Well, fuck you!

Ian Buruma, Murder In Amsterdam : The Death Of Theo Van Gogh And The Limits Of Tolerance (2006)

5 thoughts on “Verongelijktheid

  1. Er, I think you might be a little behind the times Mr Key. While the Germans have a adopted a wonderful swashbuckling style, the Dutch, at the last world cup anyway, decided that kicking their opponents was much more fun than kicking the ball.

  2. Darren : I don’t really keep up with these things, and in any case the quotation is from seven years ago. I just like the word verongelijktheid and thought I would bring it to readers’ attention. And perhaps what happened at the last world cup was that the Dutch players were stricken with verongelijktheid *before* they even took to the pitch. Possibly worth investigating.

  3. I think you might be on to something there. And it is a great word. The likes of Holland and Germany seem to have an abundance of words like this for sometimes complex emotions and situations. We don’t seem to have that as much, or maybe I’m just too used to our language and take it for granted.

  4. I’m being watchful for an opportunity to use this word in casual conversation. If one doesn’t come along in the next few months I shall be stricken with verongelijktheid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.