The Alchemy of Dutch and English

Wee o wee ...
Can be translated as
Dear oh dear ...
Except that 'wee' means 'woe'

In my youth, when my mother said "Wee o wee ..." to some child, it meant "Woe betide ..." We all understood that "if I find out that ..." came after it without being spoken.

As some of us became teenagers, in Australia, we'd say the Dutch words using an Australian pronunciation, as she threatened a younger miscreant.

"Way oh way ..."

Someone else would pun

"Weigh the consequences ..."

if my mother meant her words as a warning. The Dutch version would be "Wee je gebeente als je ...."

If a thing was being denied the younger child, some wise elder child would say,

"Where there is a will ...." A call to revolt, if I remember rightly.

My poor mother never could say anything to one child alone until the bulk of us had left home.

~~~~~~~~

My first stop for an old word is an old dictionary. Van Goor's Engels Zakwoordenboek by F. Prick van Wely (1956)

It tells me:
Wee = Woe
Wee U! = Woe to you! (I have never hear this in speech, some kind of witch's curse?)
Wee je gebeente als ... = I'll be very unhappy if you ... (yet 'gebeente' means 'bones' which makes it sound like a medieval curse of some kind too.)
O wee! = Oh dear! (I prefer to think this would be more accurate as Woe is me!)

And there are also:
weemoed = sadness
weemoedig = melancholy
wees = orphan

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