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Low Countries

Posted by EE on July 12, 2003

In Reply to: Low Countries posted by R. Berg on July 12, 2003

: : : : : : : : What is the origin of Dutch treat or Let's go Dutch? Why not British treat or French treat or Let's go Chinese or German?

: : : : : : : Basically, because the English disliked the Dutch, as the archive entry linked below explains. For more information, type "dutch treat" in the archive-search box.

: : : : : : ::: Wow, this is fabulous stuff. Although I thought it was kind of 'Freudian' (could be the wrong term here) that the writer in the archive makes this statement: "At the lowest point of the struggle, in May 1667, the Dutch sailed up the Medway, sank a lot of ships, and blockaded the Thames. The Dutch were powerful, they were the enemy, they were the bad guys, and their name was taken in vain at every opportunity. " The 'lowest point' to whom - not the Dutch methinks. So this archival response appears to have been written by an English person.

: : : : : No, he's American. He was admittedly writing as if from the English point of view because that point of view produced "Dutch treat" and similar phrases (is that a fair statement, Bruce?). The last few words of the archived post show that he didn't endorse such language.

: : : : Despite the generally good relationship between the English and the Dutch, there have been periods where the Dutch were not held in such high regard. The stereotype of the Dutch was at one time dour and tight-fisted, somewhat like the proverbial Scots. I have heard that there were a number of similar expressions to Dutch treat, but only "going Dutch" appears commonplace in the UK and most people do not associate it with any anti-Dutch prejudice.

: : : In a Dutch treat everybody pays for his own share. It shows no genorosity and isn't a treat at all! Other pejorative uses are double Dutch for nonsense and in Dutch for in disgrace.

: : So which expression is most commonly used these days, Dutch treat, go Dutch or something else to express the same meaning, i.e. let's share the bill?

: Both expressions are used. I think "go Dutch" is more common. It fits situations in which "Dutch treat" would be avoided because the latter phrase implies that one person should have treated the others (i.e., paid the bill) and did not. "Go Dutch" is acceptable when there is no feeling that one or another member of the group is obligated to pay for all.

Thank you for the clear and convincing explanation!