Dutch Tutors Online |Interesting Facts About The Dutch Language | Is Dutch a Language?

The first thing people often ask when it comes to learning Dutch is, ‘’Is Dutch a language?” The answer is “No, but yes”. Officially, the language is called Nederlands but it’s widely known as Dutch and that’s what it is known as in most English speaking countries. So, for the purposes of this blog, it's Dutch. Here are 10 interesting facts about the Dutch language from Dutch tutors at Lonet.Academy to help explain why learning it can be confusing.

Did you know that Dutch is a close relative of fellow West Germanic languages English and German? The Dutch language is considered a first language to some 24 million people, with another 5 million individuals all over the globe taking it up as a second language. Aside from being the official language of the Netherlands, Dutch is also hailed as one of Belgium’s three official languages. Not surprising that there are more people every year looking for professional Dutch tutors online to learn Dutch fast and easily.

You might sometimes encounter Standard Dutch being referred to as Flemish Vlaams, don’t fret, that is what the language is called in Belgium.  The history, culture and geographical applicability of Dutch makes it an appealing language to learn.  Another nice thing about learning Standard Dutch (Standaardnederlands or Algemeen Nederlands) is that it is easy to learn because of its proximity to English and German, enabling students to learn Dutch fast and easy.

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Femke Bernadette Letteboer

Teaches: Dutch , English

Speaks: Dutch , English , French , German , Spanish

Native language: Dutch

I've been teaching Dutch face to face and online for several years, working with students from all over the world. I followed one year of extensive teacher training and followed a program of the Berlitz teaching method. My specialization is intercultural communication, goal-oriented learning and interactive/creative lessons.

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Why Learn Dutch? | Dutch Tutors Online | Learn The Dutch Language

1.  Dutch is the easiest foreign language for native English speakers to learn

Like English, Dutch has Germanic roots so there are some similarities in the two that, in theory, make it easy for native English speakers to master. Dutch sometimes places the verb at the end of the sentence in the same way as German but has fewer cases than German. So, it's more like English in terms of its grammar.

But Dutch pronunciation is infamous for being difficult to grasp as some of the sounds require unique mouth movement that you're probably not used to.

2.   You already speak a bit of Dutch

There are many Dutch words that have made it into everyday use in English. Some of the more obvious ones are:

appel = apple

banaan = banana

blauw = blue

groen = green

koekje = cookie

koolsla = coleslaw

peer = pear

rood = red

tomaat = tomato

Store these in your Dutch vocabulary bank and you’re already on your way to learning the language.

If you learn the language, not only will your travel experience in the Low Lands countries be enhanced, but you can also have more fun in the Caribbean sun as it is also spoken in the beautiful countries of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten who are constituent countries of the kingdom of Netherlands.  Modern Dutch speakers are sprinkled all over the globe and even Namibia and South Africa’s Afrikaans has evolved from Cape Dutch dialects. The evolution of Nederlands as a language is supervised by the Dutch Language Union

3.   The first example of Dutch writing dates back to the 6th century

For many years, a 12th century love poem, discovered in 1932, was believed to be the earliest known example of  Dutch writing. That was until the Bergakker inscription was found on a 5th century sword in 1996.

4.   There is no difference between Dutch and Flemish

The Dutch-speaking part of Belgium is called Flanders and the people there speak Flemish. But Flemish is not a language. It is a variant of Dutch. So, the official language of Flanders is Dutch, not Flemish. Alongside German and French, Dutch is one of three official languages spoken in Belgium.

5. The Dutch language origin

Dutch is a West Germanic language that derives from the Old Frankish dialects. During the Middle Ages, it was known as Dietscc or Duutsc – meaning ‘language of the people’. During that time, Latin was the language of learning and religion. Dutch is spoken in The Netherlands, North Belgium and even in some parts of France.

6.   The Dutch language has a habit of stealing words

When French was the regal language of Europe, Dutch speakers tried to sound posh by throwing a few French words in when speaking. Some of these became so common they are now part of the Dutch lexicon. These include:

  • Au pair means nanny
  • Bouillon means broth
  • Bureau means office/desk
  • Pantalon means pants/trousers

There is also a fair spattering of Hebraic words in Dutch too:

  • Bajes means jail
  • Geinig means funny
  • Jatten means steal

The Netherlands is a multi-cultural society and Dutch has also managed to jatten some slang words from other languages including:

  • Antilean
  • Moroccan
  • Surinamese

7.   The longest word in the Dutch dictionary contains 35 letters

That word is Meervoudigepersoonlijkheidsstoornis and is worth an awful lot of points in Scrabble! It means ‘multiple personality disorder’ and is often seen written as two words.  However, some linguists argue that breaking it into two words changes its meaning.

Other commonly used amalgamated ‘words’ written as one but which don’t appear in the dictionary (Van Dale Groot woordenboek) include:

  • 53 letters: kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamhedenplan = preparation activities for a children’s carnival procession
  • 41 letters: hottentottententententoonstellingsterrein = exhibition ground for Hottentot tents
  • 38 letters: overeenstemmingsbeoordelingsprocedures = conformity assessment procedures

8.   Dutch loves consonants

The Dutch language is full of consonants and even when you scream, you’ll find yourself throwing a few in. An angstschreeuw is a scream of fear and describes shrieking.

9. One of the most important – and unique - word in Dutch is “gezellig”

There is no English translation of gezellig, the word Dutch people use to describe people, places or situations that are familiar and friendly. Meeting friends for coffee or a meal would be described as gezellig.

This word has no satisfactory, literal translation in English, though German-speakers – particularly Bavarians – will recognize it as gemütlich. Situations can be gezellig, as can people and places – it’s an adjective, the noun being gezelligheid. If something is gezellig, it is familiar, warm, friendly, cozy, and jovial. For example, enjoying a cozy dinner with old-friends in one of your favorite, quaint, little restaurants with some tasty food and wine is gezellig; being in a meeting at work is not gezellig!

10.   Dutch is a regulated language

As a regulated language, Dutch is managed by the Dutch Language Union. The organization is responsible for standardizing the Dutch language and promoting Dutch culture on a global scale.

Standard Dutch is known as ‘Algemeen Nederlands’ (AN) and is set out in the Woordenlijst Nederlandse taal – a list of words used in the Dutch language. AN is what is taught in Dutch schools.

Where do they speak Dutch?

Dutch speaking countries:

1            Netherlands has 17,173,099 native Dutch speakers

2            Belgium has 11,632,326 native Dutch speakers

3            Suriname has 591,800 native Dutch speakers

4            Curacao has 164,798 native Dutch speakers

5            Aruba has 107,204 native Dutch speakers

6            Sint Maarten has 43,412 native Dutch speakers

Why learn Dutch ...

Dutch is a wonderful language to learn. It is unique yet familiar. Getting to grips with the grammar and many of the most common words is fairly straightforward, so you can begin to speak Dutch quite quickly. But there is so much more to discover. As you improve your Dutch speaking skills, your language skills develop so you'll impress your friends and family.

The best way to learn Dutch is to throw yourself into it and immerse yourself in the language. To make the most of the time you spend learning Dutch, find a Dutch tutor online to support you and guide your learning journey.

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