Saturday, September 18, 2021

Language & Phrasebook in Netherlands

EuropeNetherlandsLanguage & Phrasebook in Netherlands

The national language of the Netherlands is Dutch (Nederlands). It is a charming and singing language, dotted with gs glottal (not in the south) and shs (also found in Arabic, for example), which makes the phlegm quiver. Dutch, especially in its spoken form, is partially intelligible to someone who knows other Germanic languages (especially German and Frisian), and one could at least partially hear oneself in these languages if one spoke it slowly.

However, the Dutch trading tradition and international attitude have led to this small country having a strong tradition of multilingualism. English as a foreign language is a compulsory part of education and is usually taught from the age of 9 or 10. With the possible exception of the elderly, the vast majority of the adult population speaks English relatively well, and most young people speak it with almost maternal fluency, so you should have no difficulty getting by in English. Although it is less widely spoken than English, basic German is also spoken by some people, especially older people and those living in areas close to the German border. French, Spanish or Italian are also spoken by some, but proficiency in these languages is rare. In short, Dutch is one of the most common on the continent. Ancient Greek and Latin are taught in the upper school.

German is widely spoken in the regions bordering Germany. The languages of immigrants are mainly found in urban areas: Turkish, Arabic, Sranan-Tongo (Surinam), Papiamento (Netherlands Antilles) and Indonesian. While it is quite possible to meet people who only speak Dutch, there is usually someone else around and travellers should be able to get around without learning a word of Dutch.

In addition to Dutch, several regional languages and dialects are spoken. In the eastern provinces of Groningen, Overijssel, Drenthe and Gelderland, the inhabitants speak a local variant of Lower Saxon (including Grunnegs and Tweants). In the southern province of Limburg, the majority speak Limburgish, a regional language unique in Europe, which is characterised by the use of pitch and tone length to distinguish words (for example: “Veer” with a high tone means “we”, while the same word with a low tone means “four”).

Frisian is the only official language outside Dutch, but it is only spoken in the province of Friesland. It is the closest living language to English. Other forms of Frisian are also spoken by small minorities in Germany. If you drive through Friesland or South Limburg, you will come across many bilingual street signs (like in Wales and South Tyrol). Everyone speaks Dutch, but the Frisians are so keen on the minority language that if you order a beer in that language, you might get the next one for free.

Foreign television programmes and films are almost always broadcast in the original language with subtitles. Only children’s programmes are dubbed into Dutch.