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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.

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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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8 COMMENTS

  1. 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?

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