Let’s go Dutch!
Like everyone else this time of the year, the holidays are really putting a strain on my free time, which explains why this post is kind of late. Nevertheless, we now reach Dutch, the 31st language in the blog.
Dutch is a West Germanic language (like English) spoken by over 20 million mainly in the Netherlands, Belgium and Suriname, along with some parts of the Caribbean. Dutch comes from Old Frankish, a West Germanic language that was spoken in the region around the 400s.
REGIONAL HISTORY: The Netherlands, the main country where Dutch is spoken, evolved from a cluster of provinces (called the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands, namesake-wise) back in the 1500s. Prior to that, the region was populated by the Franks and Frisians, followed by successful farmers from cities Flanders and Utrecht who formed their own towns. Seven of these provinces separated in 1581 and formed the Dutch Republic, which lasted for about 200 years.
During this time, the Dutch went through a golden age, particularly in the areas of exploration and travel. One major event was the establishment of Capetown (in modern-day South Africa), which led to the creation of Afrikaans, the progeny of Dutch. The Dutch Bible, Staten-Bijbel, appeared in the 17th century, being one of the first major works in Modern Dutch.
In the 1800s, both the Netherlands and Belgium (which had been connected to the Netherlands since, forever) formed their own kingdoms. The century also saw the rule of Queen Wilhelmina, which would last for 60 years. The Netherlands suffered greatly in WWII after being captured by Germany; many Dutch Jews were sent to concentration camps and civilians were forced into labor. The Dutch bounced back though after the war, rebuilding ties with Belgium and Luxembourg, creating the Benelux union. The Dutch are still going strong, with the world’s oldest stock exchange and reputation for being extremely liberal.
WRITING SYSTEM: Latin alphabet. Same as English’s basically, but there are two exceptions. The “g” sounds completely different. It sort of resembles a “kh” sound, with the tongue risen in the back. Sort of like when English speakers say “human” and they emphasize the h. It’s hard to explain, but its very recognizable when you heard it. The other exception is that the “j” sounds like a “y.” Also, when consonants appear at the end of words, they are devoiced (e.g., a voiced letter, like “b” turns into an unvoiced one, like “p”).
There’s also the “ij”. Though not technically a letter, it appears just as frequently as all the other letter.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: From looking at Dutch, it seems to resemble a funky version of English. There are a lot of double vowels, as in Afrikaans. From listening to it, it seems to resemble German (not a good thing). But I did sort of like Afrikaans, so I’ll give it a chance.
Enjoy Pocahontas in Dutch! I did! 🙂