04 Nov Why is Dutch So Similar To English?
Humans are a bit obsessed with learning about new things, which isn’t really a bad thing. If it wasn’t for our wish to learn all we can about the world, we would not have progressed as much as we have since the Stone Age. From farming to hunting, everything that we had to do for our survival was used to be quite difficult in the past. But being our stubborn self, we wanted to perfect everything for us and our future generations. We kept working on improvements in every walk of life and eventually made things a lot better for ourselves. However, we never stopped learning about things.
When we got satisfied with learning about the earth, we turned to the stars. But like all other things associated with out species, we have a unique way of learning. Only a couple of hundreds of us were born with photographic memory, the rest of us had to devise techniques for memorizing stuff so we can keep on progressing in the world. Sure, there is internet today that can help us with any information we need. But looking things up on the internet is not a talent, using our own ability to memorize information and use it for the good of society is what matters.
One of our various memory techniques involves associating things with each other. Most of the people look for similarities between objects and then associate them with each other. While others have an association system of their own which no one else can understand. Some, however, follow the association system that have been in use for centuries, or at least decades. Most of the time these associations work because some things have stayed the same after all this time. But for things that have grown and changed over time, using the old associations can be confusing. For instance, old people may remember the name of a building because it shared it with their city but if the name was changed in the recent past, the younger generations won’t be able to understand the connection.
This example may be too limited in its scope but even for bigger things, older associations can be incorrect and confusing. Trying to understand them is like attempting to open a new lock with an old key. But to the confusion of the younger people, a lot of such associations exist even today. Like people thinking Dutch is similar to English.
The Dutch Language History:
This tongue went through a long evolutionary process to become what it is today. Today, it has more than 25 million speakers in the world. It has been divided into Old, Middle, and Modern Dutch to understand the changes it went through throughout its history. It is a Germanic language and as a result shares a close bond with German and English. Many linguists consider it to be their closest relative. But in order to understand the similarities between languages, people have to know what the likeness actually means.
There are terms in linguistics that people with no background in the field do not understand. For instance, many people won’t be able to tell you the exact difference between a language and a vernacular. Which is why misconceptions about the relation between different tongues are pretty common and the linguistic community cannot address those things without using terminology that no one would understand.
Is Dutch So Similar to English?
English is a very popular language in the Netherlands. More than 90% Dutch can speak English fluently so people visiting the country never have any problem conversing with the natives. However, many wonders how are Dutch so good at English. Although some say that the Netherlands’ dependency on foreign trade is the reason its citizen is so good at speaking a foreign tongue. But some people think that the close connection between English and Dutch is the reason that the speakers of the latter can learn the former so easily.
Although it is true that there is connection between the two language, it does not always mean that the level of similarity is something that everyone else can notice. Dutch is genealogically close to English. Both share the same group of vernaculars and a common ancestor at some point in their history. Which means that at one point, they were a lot similar. But today, the likeness can only be seen from the eye of a linguist. The two did not undergo the High German consonant shift and they also share a few grammatical features.
But when an English speaker hears someone speaking Dutch, they will realize how different they sound. The differences in pronunciation is enough to make people realize that the two are not as similar as they think of them. Since English has some loanwords from Dutch, and Dutch has grammatical similarities with English, it would be easier for the speaker of either to learn the other language. However, it wouldn’t be a piece of cake. They are only easier when compared to other tongues.
For instance, there are no shared features between English and Chinese but that’s not true when it comes to Dutch. However, that similarity is only because of their shared ancestor and the evolutionary process they went through. The English and Dutch of today have a lot less in common than their previous varieties. But the likeness may still help a learner of languages and make the process easier for them.