12 May Dutch Pronunciation Guide
If someone has ever mispronounced your name, you know how annoying that can be. Mistakes in pronunciations are only cute when children make them. But the adults live in a world where knowledge is at their fingertips. They can access it whenever they want. And when something is available for free, and you are still not using it to educate yourself, the fault only lies with you. However, sometimes, people need a little help with things. If someone does not speak your language, they wouldn’t know how you say a certain word in it. Ignorance without disrespect is forgivable, especially if someone asks for your help with it straightaway. It is the same with pronunciation. If someone asks you for the right way to say your name, they are trying to learn and be better.
The Dutch Language:
One of the most spoken languages in Europe is Dutch, which currently has almost 25 million native speakers. It is not only officially recognized in the Netherlands but also in Belgium. It is also spoken in various other regions of the world. When the Dutch colonized South Africa, the natives picked up their tongue, which ended up developing its own features. Today, that daughter tongue of Dutch is known as Afrikaans and has more than 15 million speakers.
This tongue shares a lot of similarities with Scandinavian vernaculars. It is also a close relative of English and German. Linguists consider Dutch to be somewhere in between its two closest relatives. The vernacular does share a few similarities with both English and German. However, it is not mutually intelligible with either of them. It has taken plenty of loanwords from Romance languages. It is written in the Latin alphabet.
Dutch Pronunciation Guide:
As long as you don’t know how to pronounce something, you cannot talk about it to people. But in order to learn the correct way to say something, you will have to practice a lot. Talking to natives is another way to improve your pronunciation. If you are living in the Netherlands already, you can talk to the natives every day and measure your improvements based on their reactions. You can also ask them to give you feedback about your performance.
Dutch sounds a lot like German, but knowing how to keep it unique is the key. Currently, there are two standard accents of the tongue: the Northern Standard Dutch and Belgian Standard. The former is considered the prestigious pronunciation in the Netherlands and is spoken by the educated and wealthy people of the country. The vernacular is known for its complex consonant clusters.
When you are learning this vernacular, it is important to keep in mind that there are plenty of guttural sounds in it. If you are an English speaker, you can compare each letter’s sound to the ones you learned in school. This will help you in developing your Dutch skills a lot quickly. One common fact about the language that everybody knows is that ‘j’ is pronounced as ‘y.’ The Dutch are known for shortening and lengthening various letters. This can be a bit difficult to pick up in the beginning, but once you get the hang of the system, it will become easier.
There are a few sounds in Dutch that either don’t exist in English or aren’t easily explained in it. In their case, you can listen to clips of people using those letters. There is a lot of learning material on the internet that can help people immensely if they are trying to learn Dutch.
How to Improve Pronunciation?
If you have already learned the vernacular, but you are still not good at pronunciation, you will have to work to fix that issue straight away. Here is how you can get better at speaking Dutch:
- Talk to Natives:
Even if you are not in the Netherlands or Belgium, finding a native speaker of Dutch won’t be a problem. There are also websites that connect people to language buddies. With their help, you can get better in their language, and they can get better at yours. When you talk to different natives, you will be able to pick up different accents and get better at recognizing words.
- Go for Shopping:
If you are in the Netherlands, go shopping. You don’t even have to buy anything if you don’t need to, but you can talk to shopkeepers in their vernacular. You can make a day out of it every week. You can also arrange your actual shopping trips on the same day and kill two birds with one stone.
- Listen to Radio:
If you don’t feel confident enough to talk to strangers in Dutch yet, you can always listen to the radio and try to repeat the words after the host. This way, you can learn the vernacular without anyone listening to you. However, the lack of feedback makes this a less ideal option.
Once you have mastered the art of speaking Dutch, you can flaunt your skills at a party or in front of your friends from the Netherlands. However, before you can reach that level, you will have to commit to the task of learning the language completely. Only when you become fluent in it would you have achieved your goal of learning in it. Because studying a vernacular is only half the task, learning how to speak it is equally important. And without the second step, you can never engage in conversations with the natives confidently.