Dutch language basic words and phrase guide

Dutch language basic words and phrase guide

(Last Updated On: September 18, 2021)

Are you learning Dutch? Or by any chance, you’re a native speaker of Dutch? With millions of speakers worldwide, the Dutch language facts are not only beautiful and extraordinary in all its glory and it continues to evolve with time. It has a special relationship with other languages like French, English, German, and many other languages.

This confuses people living in the Netherlands and Belgium. Some people think that it is a very simple language but that’s not the case! Dutch is even stranger than you think.  Recently, Dutch has joined the ranks as one of the top ten languages that the UK needs. Above all, over 24 million people speak it all across the globe, and is very similar to the extant language i.e. English.

For beginners, this language is very challenging and it boasts a pretty interesting lingual diversity that features quirky phrases, consonant clusters, and abstract pronunciations. If you’re someone aiming to learn the Dutch language, you should know about its origin and history. For your assistance, here are 12 dutch language facts that can help you understand this language origin and history properly. Let’s start!

Words from 12 Centuries Old

Among the dutch language facts, the first known example of written Dutch is said to have been written as a poem on a piece of paper, thought to test a writing implement during the 12th century. Though, some say that the first writing pieces of Dutch are either a book on Salic law in the 6th century or an inscription on a metal mount for a sword scabbard. It has a name i.e., ‘the Bergakker’ inscription. No matter, the Dutch language has sure come a long way.

Most spoken language

Dutch is a West Germanic language that is the national language of the Netherlands and the official language of the Flanders, the neighboring northern province of Belgium.

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Worldwide, Dutch is a national language in Suriname (South America), Aruba, and the Dutch Antilles (Caribbean). Dutch is the 56th most commonly spoken native language in the world.

It has around 22 million native speakers and about 28 million speakers including the people who speak it as a second language. That said, the Netherlands is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, so the Dutch language packs more of an economic punch than mere numbers might suggest.

Dutch language basic words and phrases guide

Some basic words and phrases of the Dutch language include:

  • Hello (formal)              –     Hallo, Dag
  • Hello (informal)           –     Hoi
  • Good morning             –     Goedemorgen
  • Please –       Alsjeblieft / Alstublieft
  • Good evening             –     Goedenavond
  • Goodbye                     –      Tot ziens
  • I’m well, and you?     –      Alles goed, en met jou/U?
  • Good, thanks            –      Goed, dank je/U Goed, bedankt
  • Good afternoon          –     Goedemiddag
  • I don’t understand   –       Ik begrijp het niet

Difference between Dutch and Deutsch 

Until about the 17th Century, “Dutch” referred to all Germanic-speaking areas on the continent south of Scandinavia, however, the word Dutch is an English word used by natives of the Netherlands.

On the other hand, the word Deutsch is the German word for the German language. While Germans quite understand Dutch, native Dutch speakers can understand a great deal of German, because they encounter the German culture with frequency.

Similarity with the English language 

Dutch is probably the easiest foreign language for native English speakers to learn. Mainly, there is a similarity between English, German, and Dutch because these are Germanic languages. Dutch is probably somewhere between English and German. The fact that the Dutch do not enjoy leaving the verb at the end of the sentence is what makes it more like English. But it does not cover up the fact that Dutch pronunciation is notoriously difficult.

Earliest Dialect

In this age no standard languages had yet developed, while a perfect West Germanic dialect continuum remained present; the division reflects the contingent future contribution dialect groups would have to the later languages. Furthermore, round consecutive vowels in word-final syllables are rather frequent in Old Dutch.

The Middle Dutch dialect areas have a political impact. But it was, however, the earliest Middle Dutch dialect that developed a literary tradition. Dutch people use their dialects in their pronunciation and this is what signifies Dutch speakers.

Longest Dutch word in the dictionary

Among Germanic languages, Dutch is the one that has the longest word in the dictionary comprising of 35 letters. ‘Meervoudigepersoonlijkheidsstoornis’ means multiple personality disorder. But it is sometimes written as two words because some linguists argue it changes the meaning. There are some other words as well. For example:

  • 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
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French influence

The influence of the French language is very profound in the Netherlands, where many of its words have found their way in many languages, with much of its vocabulary taken from the Dutch lexicon. Somewhere between the 19th and 20th centuries, the influence of French on the Dutch language makes sense and is natural. Some of the Dutch words from the French language include:

  • bagage – bagage (baggage, luggage)
  • blesser – blesseren (to hurt, to injure)
  • caduque – kaduuk (broken)
  • appartement – appartement (apartment)

Dutch and Afrikaans

Some people think that Dutch and Afrikaans are the same. But the answer is no! When the Dutch East India Company decided to establish a station at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, this saw the start of a new language, Afrikaans. It is one of South Africa’s 11 official languages.

Afrikaans derived from a colonial dialect of Dutch (“Cape Dutch”) spoken by 17th-century emigrants from the Holland and Zeeland regions in the Netherlands. Afrikaans is a language, not a dialect of Dutch. Standard Afrikaans is pretty similar to Dutch but the main difference is their grammar. On the other hand, standard Dutch is used for public and official purposes. The grammar of standard Dutch is characterized by the loss of case endings in the noun.

Flemish is not a language

The people living in Flanders – the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium – speak Dutch, albeit a variant of Dutch called Flemish. This is reflected in Belgian policy: The official language of Flanders, and one of the three official languages in Belgium, is Dutch. The other two are French and German.

You already speak some Dutch 

Even if you’re not part of the Dutch society, still you already speak some Dutch words. If you’ve ever eaten coleslaw after leaving some cookies for Santa Claus, then you’ve used a few Dutch words, including koolsla, koekje, and Sinterklaas.

Dutch word Gezellig 

Surprisingly, this word lies at the center of Dutch culture and it’s called, gezellig. It’s one of the most used Dutch words, has no, literal translation in English or many other languages, and is an adjective for the noun being, gezelligheid.

It is used to describe anything that evokes feelings of coziness, enjoyment, or feel-good vibes. For example, “I had a nice evening and sat gezellig by the fire cuddled up to a good read.

Conclusion

Dutch as an official language of several international organizations is a sister language to English. With time, the Dutch government is realizing the importance of this universal language, and therefore many schools and sectors are advised to keep Dutch literature a necessary subject in education.

Through these facts, you will be able to understand the speech when a native contact with speakers in the Dutch language. You should be familiar with a conjugated verb and other strong verbs, vowel quality, and grammatical structure of this language including 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person, and biocapacity per person.

Further, the Dutch Language Union has standardized the spelling of Dutch. Though English does hold its own with the seven consonants of rhythms, that’s the only common word.

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