HALLO- Iedereen (Hello-Everyone)
With its 22 million speakers, Dutch is the third Germanic language after English and German. It is today the national language of the Netherlands and one of the official tongues in Belgium and Surinam. It also has an exotic flavor as it is one of the languages spoken in former Dutch colonies such Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles and Indonesia.
There is a lot of confusion regarding the terminology of the country. Netherlands is often incorrectly referred to as ‘Holland’ because strictly speaking ‘Holland’ is only the central-western region of the country. The three separate names for the language , ‘Nederlands’, ‘Hollands’ and ‘Vlaams’ also adds to confusion. This lack of clarity in terminology regularly leads to the misconception that the state language in the Netherlands is different from that in Belgium. This is not true. The Dutch spoken in Belgium, ‘Vlaams’, is a dialect and differs slightly from standard Dutch in terms of pronunciation and intonation. ‘Hollands’ comes from the time in which Dutch was spoken in the central-western region called Holland. Nowadays these languages are collectively known as ‘Nederlands’.
Dutch is a West-Germanic language. It originates from Low Franconian, the language of the Western Franks. The earliest documents in the Dutch language date back to the end of the 12th century, although a few words appeared earlier. A process of standardization started in the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages the language was called Dietsc, or Duutsc, which meant the “language of the people,”. This is where the English name ‘Dutch’ originated from.
While Dutch is a Germanic language, it is quite distinct from English and German. Like English and German, the Dutch language is written in the ISO basic Latin alphabet. However, it does contain a digraph, ‘ĳ’ (lange ij). The Dutch do not capitalize their nouns but they do enjoy leaving their verbs at the end of the sentence. While the English are perfectly content with only one definite article (the), the Dutch have to choose between two articles: ‘de’ and ‘het’.
In Dutch you can make new word just by combining endless nouns. This system makes really long words, sometimes up to 53 letters. Many Dutch words also have a lot of consonants, which can make for difficult reading and speaking. Especially because the Dutch pronunciation is known for its hard consonant sounds in particularly of -G and -CH. Pulling off these sounds can be tough. Rumors go, that during the 2nd World War, German spies were identified through their pronunciation of ‘Scheveningen’ (which is a sea side suburb of The Hague).