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‘Jew’ Is the New Cool in the Netherlands

“One is at first unsettled by it."

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Dutch teenagers are using “Jew” to mean “cool” or “awesome” in English, according to a linguist from Leiden University, the Dutch website Pow Ned reports.

It turns out the term “Jew” in the linguistic game signals an exclamation of joy, as in: “A day off? Jew!,” Professor Marc van Oostendorp wrote Monday in his blog.

Van Oostendorp reported that he heard the word “jood” (pronounced yode) at a high school in Leiden shortly after learning about the phenomenon from an online forum about the Dutch language.

“One is at first unsettled by it. The word Jew is still a slightly sensitive issue if used improperly,” van Oostendorp wrote, referring to the way soccer fans use it as a pejorative.

Van Oostendorp noted that the Dutch language already has one positive exclamation connected to Judaism in “tof,” which could be borrowed from the Hebrew “tov,” meaning “good.”

He notes that “the ideal word to express teenage enthusiasm would make parents raise their eyebrows” but would not invoke disciplinary intervention.

“The word ‘Jew’ is apparently suitable in that regard,” van Oostendorp wrote.

It is the first time that the word is used to indicate that something “beautiful and very pleasant,” said Van Oostendorp, who also works at the Meertens Institute.

Van Oostendorp predicts the word “Jew” will come to identify the current generation of youth, just as “spiffing” and “flex” did in previous generations. “Apparently the time has come for the Jew-generation,” says the language professor.

JTA content was used in this report.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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8 Responses to “‘Jew’ Is the New Cool in the Netherlands”

  1. Helena Alves Linton says:

    And I thought that Anti-Semitism was on the rise…

  2. Tim Upham says:

    It goes to show, that it just cannot be a derogatory slur, but also something positive.

  3. Cool! Being Jewish is so Jew!

  4. Anonymous says:

    WHERE CAN I BUY THAT T-SHIRT? I'M SERIOUS!

  5. Anonymous says:

    where can I buy that t-shirt?

  6. Stephen Leavitt says:

    Type in "don't worry be jewish t-shirt" into Google. It lists a a few online stores.

  7. How strange? In the US we have been fighting the use of "gay" to describe something as stupid or uncool. As in: "That is so gay!" Who knows how you make the linguist jump from stupid to gay and use it, and be understood. In the same way, how does Dutch go from cool to Jood? Those of us who are Jewish know that being Jewish is cool, but Protestant youths?

  8. Dov Levi says:

    It is over there, the Moroccans are multiplying/emigrating like Jack Rabbits it's making Anti-semitism an overt display…. this is a crock of horse manure.

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