Surprising facts about the Dutch language
Would you like to learn Dutch? Read on for some surprising, funny and interesting facts about the Dutch language.
- We have the weirdest proverbs.
An example is maak dat de kat wijs, which can be literally translated to “make that the cat wise”. It actually means that someone is telling something so weird or unbelievable, that even the cat won’t believe it. Another example is hij heeft een baard een z’n keel, which is literally translated to “he has a beard in his throat”.The phrase is used to explain the breaking voice of a boy, when his voice changes during puberty.
- Dutch must be the easiest foreign language for native English speakers to learn.
Dutch is probably somewhere in the middle between English and German. While Dutch does enjoy leaving the verb at the end of the sentence occasionally, like in German, it doesn’t have the cases German does, which makes it more akin to English. However, Dutch pronunciation is notoriously difficult. Your pronunciation of Dutch words, e.g.Scheveningen, tells native speakers whether or not Dutch is really your mother-tongue; this was the downfall of more than one German spy during WWII.
- We have a word that can’t be translated
Gezellig. The most important word in Dutch might just begezellig. This word has no satisfactory, literal translation in English or many other languages. 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 favourite, quaint, little restaurants with some tasty food and wine is gezellig.
- The Dutch Language actually exists for 75% out of borrowed words – a lot of those are French, English and Hebrew
Many Dutch words are influenced by the French language as well. This is because it used to be rather decadent and posh to drop the occasional French word in conversation. Many of these French words stayed and integrated completely in the Dutch language.
- Dutch is spoken in Belgium, South America, Latin America, South Africa, and parts of Indonesia (Asia)
As a consequence of the Dutch colonization, the Dutch language has spread across the world. For example, in Latin and South America Dutch is spoken in Surinam, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao (also known as the ABC-islands). In South-Africa, a variation of Dutch is now considered the national language. It is not officially called Dutch, but it closely resembles it. The colonization also stretched across Asia and left notable traces in Indonesia. In Flemish-Belgium, the official language is Dutch. In contrast to popular belief, Flemish on its own is not an actual language.
Learning Dutch in The Netherlands
Interested in learning Dutch? The trainers of European Language Centre are all native speakers. They can tell you everything about the language. More information about our Dutch language training for Expats can be found on our website. Also you can call, (0031) 20 609 79 70.