Isanya Köhne

 

Geschefrethut hetschrewijvan – “It is one of the ugliest languages I have ever heard, as if someone has a bad cold and a runny nose”. This is one of the most frequently made comments I came across when researching what people think of the Dutch language. Yes, we know how it sounds, but trust us, it’s a pretty interesting language.
 
Known as a West Germanic language and with many similarities to German and English, we’d like to introduce you to the Dutch language, or in other words known as Netherlandic or Nederlands Dutch. Many people speak it, and many dialects exist. Not only in the Netherlands is where you’ll come across it, the language stretches all over the world to Indonesia, Suriname, Curaçao, Bonaire, and a couple other places. It originally derives from what is called Low Franconian, the speech of the Western Franks from about 700 CE. Around the Middle Ages the language was known as Dietsc, or Duutsc. It was historically equivalent to German (Deutsch) and simply meant ‘language of the people’ (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019). 
 

Despite the similarities it’s got to English, it is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn as it has a lot of sounds that do not exist in English. Yes, learning Dutch can almost seem impossible but that is only if you don’t know how to do it. Both (2018) states that even linguistically talented people who speak multiple languages encounter real challenges when trying to speak Dutch, therefore concluding that there’s something about our precious language that makes it extremely tough. However, he also mentions that there are many ways for you to get started and basically decipher the Dutch language on your own. You’ll notice that when you actually read the words, and know the rules to those words, you’ll be able to understand much more and pretty quickly. We’re not going to bother you with these lessons, but if you’d like to read a little bit more about it, I recommend the following article by Albert Both where he’ll take you through the few rules the Dutch language has. 

Don’t really want to learn Dutch? No worries, because luckily, the Dutch are also known as very good English speakers. Ranking #1 for years according to the EF English Proficiency Index (2019), the Dutch prove they know how to master the English tongue. But why and how do the Dutch know English so well? As mentioned in a previous article post, the Netherlands plays a huge part on the global market, where the used language is English. The saying goes, “Where there is business, there’s English” and therefore the Dutch are all in for it. Other than that, a big contributor to mastering the English language so well is that we don’t dub foreign language TV and movies. This allows children to get acquainted with the English language at a very young age already and they’ll continue to do that as they grow up. 

So, are you brave enough to give the Dutch language a try? Then we’re all here for it! Below we’ve made a list with some of the best Dutch words and sentences that might come in handy and we encourage you to try these out. Let us know in the comments which one is your favourite Dutch word. 

References

Both, A. (2018), “Is it really that difficult to learn Dutch?”

Retrieved from: https://www.iamexpat.nl/expat-info/dutch-expat-news/it-really-difficult-learn-dutch

EF English Proficieny Index (2019), “The world’s largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills”

Retrieved from: https://www.ef.edu/epi/

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2019), “Dutch Language” 

Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Dutch-language