Delta nr 39, December 2005
'Hij springt van de hak op de tak' (literal translation: He's jumping from branch to branch).
Dutch people use this expression when they might otherwise say something along the lines of: 'He's jumping from one subject to another!' And we Dutch use this expression a lot, whenever we're listening to someone telling something that is hard to follow, because of the inconsistency and disjointedness in the way in which it is being told. For instance, 'Hij springt van de hak op de tak ' can be used to make a negative comment about a lecturer, who is rambling on from one subject to the next, without there being any - at least to your mind - continuous and coherent theme or train of thought to what he is saying. So, the next time your lecturer isn't making any sense, say: 'Hey, you're jumping from branch to branch!' And if ever someone says this to you, you can be sure they're not giving you a compliment. Most likely, you're not making any sense.