This year marks an important moment in the history of anglophones in Luxembourg. It was on this date 200 years ago that the first English speaker found humor in the Luxembourgish clause “dat ass.”
Welshman Thomas Lewis spent several weeks in Luxembourg City on his way to Switzerland where he hoped to start a new life as a master sheep shearer.
“A lovely Fortress city with stunning views,” he writes in his journal. “Also, in their language they say ‘dat ass.’”
“The centre is perched atop a promontory with majestic cliffs on three sides,” he continues. “Apparently, ‘dat ass’ means ‘that is,’ or so they say, unless they’re taking the piss.”
“It’s a grand sight to behold, the peasant maidens down below near the river, all lined up and washing their undergarments,” he adds. “I wonder if they know about dat ass.”
“I will make haste and inquire thusly.”
Before Lewis departed from the city, he wrote to a friend in Cardiff, imploring him to make a visit to Luxembourg.
“I must end this letter because I am now going in search of dat ass,” the letter concludes.
“P.S.” he adds. “Nestled in the countryside, there exists here a village called Dickweiler. I keep my eyes open for Titsville.”
Photo credit: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru