Learning to cope with a new language can sometimes be like trying to negotiate your way through a maze. The Dutch love of abbreviations can complicate things.
“To make life easier for you,” the letter jubilantly declared, “we have created a combined bill for all local taxes, so you don’t have to pay your AFV, INGO, OZBG and WVOW separately anymore.”
Apart from being shocked by the unreasonably high amount demanded at the bottom of the bill, I was baffled as to what I was paying that huge sum for.
What do these words mean?
Perusing the accompanying brochure did draw my attention to some strange and very long words, such as ingezetenenomslag – a word no person, Dutch or otherwise, could explain to me. No sign, however, of the abbreviations.
Only after carefully putting my magnifying glass to the back of the letter like a true Sherlock Holmes, however, did I find them – in small print. It would be uncivil of me not to share this discovery with you.
- OZBE/OZBG (aka* onroerende-zaakbelasting eigenaars/gebruikers): housing tax on ‘immovable’ objects for owners or users respectively
- RRBE/RRBG (roerende-ruimtebelasting eigenaars/gebruikers): housing tax on ‘movable’ objects (such as house boats) for owners or users
- RIOE (rioolrecht): connection to the sewage system (for house owners only)
AFV (afvalstoffenheffing): charge for collecting your garbage
- WVOB/WVOW (verontreinigingsheffing oppervlaktewater bedrijven/ woningen): water purification for businesses/houses
- INGO (ingezetenenomslag): anti-flooding measures
Having taken considerable time solving that riddle, I realised it’s always the little words and abbreviations that trip us up when learning a new language, because these little devils can turn the whole meaning of a sentence around.
In the old days they used to write full stops in between the letters, so you would at least be aware of the fact that you were dealing with an abbreviation. But nowadays the Dutch just write them joined up, like secret codes intended to confuse poor expats who are doing their best to get a handle on this tongue-twisting language. Most languages use abbreviations btw*, especially since the introduction of text messages, but the Dutch seem particularly fond of them. And in no other language I have encountered can they change the meaning of a phrase so drastically.
A list of the most commonly used Dutch abbreviations
- a.s. (aanstaande): coming
- aso (asociaal): anti-social
- aub (alstublieft): please
- begr. (begraven): buried
- beh (behalve): except for
- BTW Belasting Toegevoegde Waarde: sales tax
- ca (circa): around, about
- dag (dagelijks): daily
- dd (de dato – Latin): dated
- dhr (de heer): Sir
- dir. (directeur): CEO
- dmv (door middle van): by means of
- dwz (dat wil zeggen): i.e.
- EHBO (Eerste Hulp bij Ongeluk): first-aid
- eea (een en ander): these things
- enz (enzovoorts): etc.
- exc (exclusief): exclusive of
- geb. (geboren): born
- gesch. (gescheiden): divorced
- igvn (in geval van nood): in case of emergency
- iha (in het algemeen): generally
- iig (in ieder geval): in any case
- ipv (in plaats van): instead
- itt (in tegenstelling tot): in contrast with
- ivm (in verband met): in connection with
- j.l. (jongstleden): last
- k.k. (kosten koper): homebuyer’s costs
- KvK (kamer van koophandel): Chamber of Commerce
- L.S. (lectori salutem – Latin): to whom it may concern
- m.b.t. (met betrekking tot) concerning
- miv (met ingang van): starting from
- muv (met uitzondering van): with the exception of
- M/V (man/vrouw): man/woman (in job ads)
- mv (meervoud) plural
- m.vr.gr. (met vriendelijke groeten): with kind regards
- Mw (mevrouw): Madam
- nav (naar aanleiding van): as a result of
- notk (nader overeen te komen): to be agreed
- nl (namelijk): namely
- o.a. (onder andere): amongst other things
- o.l.v. (onder leiding van) supervised by
- o.m. (onder meer): amongst other
- ong. (ongeveer) approximately
- oorspr. (oorspronkelijk) originally
- overl. (overleden): deceased
- svp (Si’l vous plait – French): please
- tav (ter attentie van): attention of
- tav (ten aanzien van): with regard to
- teab (tegen elk aannemelijk bod): reasonable offers accepted
- tgv (ten gevolge van): as a result of
- t/m (tot en met): up to and including
- tnv (ten name van): in the name of
- tov (ten opzichte van): in relation to
- twv (ter waarde van): worth
- v.a. (vanaf): from
- vnl (voornamelijk) mainly
- zgn. (zogenaamd): so-called
- zoz (zie ommezijde): turn over