The Universe of Discourse

Sun, 18 Dec 2022

Den goede of den kwade?

Recently I encountered the Dutch phrase den goede of den kwade, which means something like "the good [things] or the bad [ones]”, something like the English phrase “for better or for worse”.

Goede is obviously akin to “good”, but what is kwade? It turns out it is the plural of kwaad, which does mean “bad”. But are there any English cognates? I couldn't think of any, which is surprising, because Dutch words usually have one. (English is closely related to Frisian, which is still spoken in the northern Netherlands.)

I rummaged the dictionary and learned that it kwaad is akin to “cud”, the yucky stuff that cows regurgitate. And “cud” is also akin to “quid”, which is a chunk of chewing tobacco that people chew on like a cow's cud. (It is not related to the other quids.)

I was not expecting any of that.

[ Addendum: this article, which I wrote at 3:00 in the morning, is filled with many errors, including some that I would not have made if it had been daytime. Please disbelieve what you have read, and await a correction. ]

[ Addendum 20221229: Although I wrote that attendum the same day, I forgot to publish it. I am now so annoyed that I can't bring myself to write the corrections. I will do it next year. Thanks to all the very patient Dutch people who wrote to correct my many errors. ]

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