Can Dutch speak English fluently?

November 27, 2016

Many think that learning Dutch is a piece of cake for Germans, but that is a misconception. You can find out why it is so difficult for me to master the language and why I still like the language in my four-point list.

First of all, I should make it clear that I am not a language type and that I generally find it difficult to learn a new language. Because of this, I may not be a good benchmark for many of you planning to learn Dutch. But if you also have difficulties learning new languages ​​and think that Dutch will be easy for you due to the apparent similarity, be warned!

A small note on pronunciation:

  • oe becomes u pronounced
  • ij =          ei / ai
  • u =          ü

1. Dutch - a mixture of Kölsch, English and German

As already said, the general assumption that it is particularly easy to learn a language that is similar to German is simply wrong. From my perspective, Dutch is not only similar to German, it is a mixture of Kölsch, English and German. An example of the similarity to the Rhenish dialect: the word trek is written on every second door ...

The similarity creates many so-called false friends. So had whores has nothing to do with the red light district, but simply means “renting”. Claarcomas on the other hand, has nothing in common with our “getting along” and can very well be associated with the red light milieu (ask the Google translator what that means). And beautiful means clean. The "wrong friends" make me feel insecure and this creates this typical train of thought while I am trying to form a sentence in Dutch:

I would like Glove translate to Dutch.

Maybe it could Handsome be called.

No, that would be much too similar to German, it can't be!

And often, as in this very simple, exemplary case, my initial idea would have been correct. In other cases there are absolutely no similarities, such as in bioscoop (Movie theater), alstublieft (You're welcome), rozenbottel (Rose hip) or ambachtelijk (Craft).

While some words are similar, the grammar and sentence order are fundamentally different, which further complicates things.

2. Everyone speaks German here

Many Dutch speak German and that was even more the case in Maastricht than here in Wageningen due to the proximity to the border. This also means that it often happens that I get an answer in German after I have given my painstakingly cobbled together Dutch sentence to the best. Not only is that frustrating, but it doesn't help me practice and use my Dutch. That's why I'm very happy - even if it's exhausting and arduous - that I have some Dutch friends who consistently speak Dutch with me and force me to go through hell.

3. The language mix leads to confusion

Since my language of instruction is English, I have contact with German friends and family and my fellow students come from all over the world, I actively speak three languages ​​every day and am also surrounded by many other languages. Combined with my non-existent language talent, it creates an explosive mix in my head. For example, my confusion on my last trip to England meant that I placed my order with "A cream tea, alstublieft. " gave up.

4. And still it's worth it

There are many nice words that are worth learning the language for on their own. My all-time favorite (as you've probably already noticed) is fiets. The bike, or ride a bike (fietsen), for me is the epitome of Dutch culture. Due to the Dutch weather, you should also know what a paraplu (Umbrella) is. For students are also the terms bvo’tje (bier voor Ochange way, Wegbier) and drink in (pre-glow / pre-drink) of concern.

Even if it is far from easy for me to learn the language, I will not give up. There are moments that reward you for going through hell, such as when I am chatted up on the bus by an elderly lady who gives me an encouraging smile while I try to form a reasonable sentence in response. And I am sure that after a walk through hell, in which I understand everything but cannot answer sensibly, I will feel even more at home with our neighbors.

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