Lecture Ewoud Sanders – From ‘Kutwijf’ to ‘Coronawijf’ the history and development of Dutch curse words

From ‘Kutwijf’ to ‘Coronawijf’ the history and development of Dutch Swear words
a lecture by language historian and journalist Ewoud Sanders


Swear words are an integral part of Kathe Burkhart’s paintings. Her portraits are invariably accompanied by a curse or insult, often prominently in red block or decorative letters. Each word has its own connotation in terms of gender and time atmosphere. For example, ‘kreng’ is mainly used by, and for, women, and ‘zakkenwasser’ breathes the 80s. The namesake of the exhibition, ‘Coronawijf’, recently appeared in the Dikke Van Dale, and thus seems to have joined the unique and long Dutch tradition of swearing with diseases.


How can the rise and popularity of certain swear words be explained? Why have words like ‘beftekkel’ practically disappeared from the arsenal of Dutch swear words? And how is it possible that swear words are (almost) always gender-related? During the event Van ‘Kutwijf’ naar ‘Coronawijf’ Ewoud Sanders will discuss these questions, and more.


Ewoud Sanders is a language historian and journalist. His column WoordHoek appeared in NRC between 2000 and 2020. Since January 2021, this language column in which he writes about language and history can be read on the website of the Institute for the Dutch Language. Ewoud Sanders is the author of more than of 25 books and is considered an expert on the history of words and expressions. In 2021, he received the Groenman Language Prize, which is awarded every year to someone who excels by a clear, living use of language or to someone who writes about language in a lucid, informative, loving way.


The lecture will be in Dutch. Its starts directly after the reading of writer and curator Arnisa Zeqo. Please click this event for more information.