Dutch Language


Since arriving in Holland, I’ve been making an effort to learn a bit of Dutch. I must admit, it’s a bit hard to remain motivated sometimes, for two reasons. Firstly, a large portion of Dutch people speak English very well.  According to the European Commission, 87% of the Dutch population can speak English. In my day to day life, I encounter very few people who are unable to communicate with me in English.

Secondly, Dutch is not exactly widely spoken. I’m used to French, which you can hear almost everywhere in the world, with large numbers of native speakers across Europe, North America, and Africa. The population of The Netherlands is less than 17 million (although Wikipedia says that 22 million people speak Dutch as a native language, by the time you count Dutch speakers in Belgium, former Dutch colonies like Suriname in South America, and several islands in the Caribbean where Dutch is still spoken). But in any case, you’re not going to get much bang for you buck from studying Dutch.

That said, I think Dutch is a really nice language and a lot of fun to learn. Many words are very similar to English and German, so the vocabulary can be easy to pick up. For example, to informally ask someone how they are doing, you can say, “Hoe is it?” which literally means “How is it?” Many basic words are obvious: melk is milk, boter is butter, and brood is bread. But I don´t want to give you the wrong idea… many people find Dutch quite difficult to learn because the pronunciation of certain letters can sometimes resemble the sound your cat makes when having a hairball.


About Home Strange Home

I first left the US in 1999, when I was 18 years old. Since then, I’ve spent 13 years living abroad - 3 in Canada, 7 in Europe, and 3 in Africa. Now I've finally returned to the US on a one-way plane ticket. I arrived home in late January 2014 and set foot in the US for the first time in nearly 2.5 years. In Home Strange Home, I blog about the ups and downs of my re-acculturation experience.
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