The Dutch language sounds like a mix of German and Arab. The strange throat sounds and seemingly complex grammar of the Dutch language make it a difficult language to learn. Or is it not difficult at all? Is it just because the Dutch people speak so well English, that most people never learn proper Dutch?
Here are 10 facts about the Dutch language
1. English is not an official language of The Netherlands. Frisian is.
Many Dutch people speak English very well. But that doesn’t mean All Dutch people speak English. Obviously, when you visit a tourist town like Amsterdam, everyone you encounter will speak Dutch. But English is not an official language in the Netherlands.
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2. The official language of Belgium is Dutch.
Flemish is a dialect of the Dutch language, spoken in Belgium. So this means that Flemish is also not an official language. There are two official languages in Belgium: Flemish (Dutch), spoken in Flanders and French, spoken in Wallonia. A small number of people in Belgium speak German.
In both the Netherlands and Flanders, there are many dialects, all derived from Dutch.
3. Frisian is an official language of the Netherland
In The Netherlands, there is another official language: Frisian. It is spoken in the Northern province of Friesland.
4. Dutch and Deutsch are not the same language.
Dutch is the English word for the language they speak in the Netherlands. (In the Netherlands itself, we call this language ‘Nederlands’).
Deutsch is the German word for the language they speak in Germany (still following?). So basically Deutsch means German (and not Dutch…well whatever, let’s go on shall we?).
5. Dutch is similar to the German
Although Dutch is very similar to German, most Germans cannot understand one word of Dutch. The Dutch understand German much better. Probably this has to do with the fact that The Netherlands is such a small country. It is easier for Dutch people to come in contact with the German language, through, television and on holiday.
6. Many Dutch words come from the French
French has had a large influence on Dutch. In the 1800s, it was rather decadent and posh to drop the occasional French word in the conversation. Many of these French words stayed and integrated completely in the Dutch language.
Examples of French loanwords are paraplu (umbrella), au pair, bouillon (broth), bureau (desk or office), cabaretier, (comedian), capuchon (hood of a coat), chantage (blackmail), fouilleren (frisk search), horloge (wrist watch), humeur (mood), jus d’orange (orange juice), monteur (mechanic), pantalon (trousers), plafond (ceiling), retour (return ticket), trottoir (pavement).
7. Many Amsterdam words come from Jiddisch
Because Amsterdam had such a large Jewish community, many words come from the old German-Hebrew Jiddsh language. Common words are: bajes (jail), gabber (buddy, also used as a type of hardcore techno music that was popular in the ’90s), geinig (funny), geteisem (scum), jatten (to steal), kapsones (arrogance), mazzel (lucky), pleite (gone), smeris (cops), sores (trouble), stiekem (secretly), tof (cool, good)
8. Dutch is hard to pronounce
Foreigners find the Dutch language often amazing because of the hard G- or CH-sound. They say is makes their throat hurt. Just to have a laugh, Dutch people will try to make foreigners pronounce the word Scheveningen (which is a sea side suburb of The Hague).
Germans pronounce the SCH much softer. Rumours go, that during the 2nd World War, the Dutch, when they wanted to identify German spies, would make a potential German spy pronounce ‘Scheveningen’.
9. Dutch words can be very long.
Dutch words can be longer because in Dutch, you can paste two nouns together to make a new word. Examples? Well take chronischevermoeidheidssyndroom (31 letters) (Chronic fatigue syndrome). The English take all the different items apart. Because of the big influence of the English language nowadays, many Dutch people tend to do the same. We call this ‘the English disease’.
10. Dutch words can have many consonants.
For example the word slechtstschrijvend (worst writing) has 9 consonants.