I wasn’t translating about badgers this last week but they have been in the news here. Badgers are a protected species in the Netherlands and in the UK. As a result, their numbers are growing. Twice in the past week, trains have had to stop running because badgers had built their sett under the rails. They also burrow into the defence dykes near rivers. All this means that they are intruding on the world of humans – at least that’s how it feels to the humans. In Dutch, the badger’s underground den is called a burcht which means castle or stronghold – at least that’s how it feels to the badgers.

In English, it’s called a sett. It usually consists of a network of tunnels and numerous entrances. The largest setts are big enough to accommodate 15 or more animals with up to 300 metres of tunnels and as many as 40 openings. Many badger setts are thousands of years old. Badger remains discovered in a cave system near Cheddar in the UK were found to date from up to 60,000 years ago.

The word ‘badger’ comes from bageard (16th century), presumably referring to the white mark like a badge on its forehead. Brock in Scots, a Celtic loanword (Gaelic – broc) from Proto-Celtic brokkos meaning ‘grey’. Das in Dutch.

The Dachshund dog was bred for hunting the badger (dachs in German).