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Thread: Dutch: Easy to learn?

  1. #41
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    sorry alisonp, I did mess up a little...

  2. #42
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    In the UK, most of our non-English films are subtitled, but that's largely because they're regarded as "arthouse" films with only a small potential audience, I think. I seem to remember that several of the animated films, 'Spirited Away' included, were also provided with a dubbed version, though (and the verb is 'dub' rather than 'synchronise' ). Whether that too was because they thought children would be present, or merely because it was expected to have a wide audience, I don't know.

  3. #43
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hallo!!

    I speak fluent English and am learning Geman for 8 years and I have to say Dutch is the easiest language ever!! Sometimes I don't know is it closer to English or German but if you have both languages you are sorted and you should pick it up. That said I lived in Holland for 5 years (Age 1-6) so I was fluent in Dutch. I'm now 21, have lost all my Dutch through lack of usage and want to learn it again so just started. But it defintely helped my learning of German and now my German is helping my learning of Dutch...... weird. The pronounciation is cool, I love th 'ij' thing aswell or some reason. Word order seems to follow German as opposed to English rules. It's also a lot easier than German as it doesn't have all those complicated cases I don't think. The Dutch in my opinion tend to have the best level of English as a nation followed by the Germans and the Swedes. This does make it hard to speak Dutch as they will switch to English so my plan is when I go back to Holland to pretend I can't speak English ..... or German for that matter and they will have no choice but to speak Dutch back as I'm sure they can't speak Irish and if they did I would be so impressed!! XD
    Very interesting thread
    Last edited by Frank06; 26th November 2008 at 10:02 AM. Reason: Please stick to the conventional spelling!

  4. #44
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    > Word order seems to follow German as opposed to English rules.

    Bit off topic, but kinda interesting is that the English word order was like the Dutch and German one until only a couple of centuries ago.

    Old Modern English: Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offende
    Present day Enlgish: Hamlet, you have offended your father much.
    Dutch: Hamlet, je hebt je vader erg kwaad gemaakt

  5. #45
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Ik vind dat Nederlands makkelijk is.
    However, I must say that I really miss the constant commas from German. They separated all of the dependent clauses and made word order easier to construct. Without those commas, Dutch word order is rough, though knowledge of German grammar makes it much easier.

    Now, I do think that Dutch is quite simple, but it's sort of intermediate between English and German anyways. That would make things monstrously easy for me. ^^'
    Alongside that, I must admit that one part of Dutch is excrutiatingly difficult: pronunciation. There are three things that particularly bother me about it:

    1. the frequent "g" sound
    Though it's unique and quite neat, it can get annoying (especially in words like vleigtuig).
    2. the pronunciation of "s"
    It's sometimes "s," sometimes a little like "sh." Overall, it's quite confusing for me.
    3. the Dutch accents themselves
    They're simply difficult to imitate. I listen to myself try to imitate them, yet I end up just sounding strange.

  6. #46
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Through German and English I find myself understanding quite a bit of written Dutch and I can also pick up some words and simple sentences of spoken Dutch. I find this language interesting, because it has characteristics of both English and German and the pronunciaton is nice, although very difficult to imitate.

  7. #47
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    POV of total beginner:

    Visibility is everything!

    I'm still struggling with the basics of the language, and definitely I think the French basics were easier, mostly because French commands a much larger sphere of attention. The number of French lessons, tutorials, videos and general media I've come across on the Internet far, far outstrips Dutch. This is a real blow, being in a country where neither language is spoken or taught.

    Never having learnt German, I think the word order throws me off hardest. That, compound words, and the lack of good Dutch-English dictionaries online.

    Still, I'm pretty sure it'll get much easier once I pass the beginner stage. =]

    Ace

  8. #48
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    I'm a native Flemish-Dutch speaker, and as such I can't from first-hand experience give a credible reply to the question.

    However, I have come accross people from Denmark, the USA, many from Germany, who do speak Dutch very well.

    There appear to be far fewer from Latin countries, even though I was extremely impressed by (the originally Argentinian) Princess Maxima when I first heard her on TV and there are, of course, some French who speak Dutch, some of them well.

    I assume that, like everything in life, motivation is a key factor.

    I would like to make some further points, though. Due to my dad having been in the (Belgian) armed forces, our family kept moving, to Germany, to the USA, so I didn't learn any Dutch in school between the ages of 13 and 18. By the time I entered Belgian university, I spoke Dutch like a 13-year old from Brooklyn.

    Whilst nowadays I speak Dutch pretty much impeccably, my spelling and, worse, grammar, is ..er.. sketchy. I find the rules...incredibly fabricated, and others have already mentioned the rules of...exception.

    I stongly feel also that repeated and subsequent changes in the rules of grammar have not done anything to solidly "anchor" the language. And, as the French would say "traduit de l'américain", there are the real differences between Dutch from the north and Flemish-Dutch. To me it's all Dutch, much like the American language, Australian, South African, Indian English...all that...is English; period, full stop. Not that this is any different in, say, Spanish..Castilian, Asturian, Navarrese...Argentinian, Mexican...¡all Spanish to me!

    Oh yes, BTW, my two sons learned English from the Simpsons on TV. Subtitling is an enormous advantage, a school for free.

    Sorry for the spelling mistakes: I can't ever remember the rules of grammar, not in any language...

    Pablo

  9. #49
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by lady_skywalker View Post
    + People who bring up Princess Maxima as proof that anyone can learn Dutch in the space of a couple of months. This happens to me a bit and it bugs me. First of all, everyone learns at a different pace so her successes are not necessarily indicative of everyone who's learning Dutch. Second of all, many of us Dutch learners have jobs and other concerns and thus do not have as much time to dedicate to language learning as members of the royalty probably have (please correct me if I'm wrong). And lastly, Maxima probably had the best Dutch teachers the Royal Family could afford, something that is out of the question for the rest of us lowly learners.
    Very old message but I still want to give a comment. I agree with your teacher statement, she had like the best and most expensive Dutch education but she still speaks with a very heavy accent(still after more than 7 years), she speaks the language in a very odd way and she still makes a lot grammar mistakes.

    @Topic: I don't think Dutch is very easy. I know a few people who learned Dutch(they spoke English, Danish or Afrikaans) but you can easily hear that they are foreign and they also make a lot mistakes.

  10. #50
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    In my experience: Dutch is relatively easy to learn, as compared to German, French (I suppose...) and perhaps even English, if you want to go further than basic English.

    The problem is, at least in Belgium, that most Dutch-speaking people speak some sort of Flemish dialect, which is quite different.

    I remember the first time I worked with Flemish colleagues: although I was able to read the newspaper in Dutch and even to understand most things on television, I just couldn't understand a single word from what they were saying to each other ! Then, when they talked to me, they made an effort to speak "ABN" (standard Dutch), but after a few minutes they fell back on Flemish and I was "off". Very frustrating... -))

  11. #51
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    I've often heard this argument of Flemish versus Dutch. It's the same in any other language.

    I often can't understand Quebecquois, either, not that I've really tried very much (or had the opportunity, yes, nowadays on, I think, Canal 5, I'll watch the most boring programs just to hear that exotic Canadian french).

    Learning languages is not done in isolation...it is very much a matter of interaction, blending, ...under the skin... , feeling, an emotional thing, too. Learning the culture, the history, the people.

    On Spanish TVE, I understand absolutely every word, every phrase Don Juan Carlos speaks, I understood (the young) Mr. Aznar (if only because he might say things simple to understand ), I understand most of what the news readers have to say, but I can't for the love of me make much of most of what is said in Spanish film conversations, or when people in the street are being interviewed, be it in Asturian, Navarrese, Aragonese, Andalucian, Mexican, Argentinian or any other of the non-Castilian Spanish languages.

    Diction, a-r-t-i-c-u-l-a-t-i-o-n.... very important factors.

    Strange how, face to face in the street, I understand so much better than through a loudspeaker: my ears must be poor; the fault of Deep Purple.

    Flemish / Dutch easy to learn? No, not really. No language is "easy to learn", except for extremely talented persons. There are so many levels of difficulty. The key words, and the solutions to the question, are motivation and perseverence.

    Paul

  12. #52
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Yes, you are right: many languages have this. But what is striking with Flemish is that these differences happen on such a small scale, f.i. between Roeselaere en Leuven or between Antwerpen and Maaseik, which is just nothing on a world map. Whereas you can better understand that Québec has developped some other sort of French.

    I don't say this as a criticism, it just strikes me. In a way, it is even fascinating...

    As far as easiness is concerned, it is also quite subjective, I agree. But aren't they some more objective criteria, such as the "déclinaisons" in German, the many different (and irregular) "conjugaisons" in French or the important differences between spelling and pronounciation in English?

    Again, it is not a criticism against Dutch, which has not all these difficulties, on the contrary ! But I noticed that, for some reason, most Dutch-speaking people don't like when you tell them that their language is "easier". It seems that everybody wants his own language to be difficult...

  13. #53
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hi,

    May I remind you, dear people, that this thread is not about Flemish versus(?) Dutch. We have discussed that topic too may times already.
    Plea-ea-ea-se :-).

    Frank
    moderator

    If you open your mind too much, your brain might fall out.

  14. #54
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hi,

    I think people will have to learn lot more varieties than the 'Flemish' and 'Netherlandic' standard varieties to be proficient in 'Dutch'. Just go to the bakery, the doctor and the garage, and you'll here a lot of variants of Dutch.

    The problem is, at least in Belgium, that most Dutch-speaking people speak some sort of Flemish dialect, which is quite different.
    I'll concentrate upon Flanders, but I am quite sure that the same problems go for the Netherlands, but maybe to a lesser (or different extent).

    No, the problem is not that people speak something else than the minority variant called Standard Dutch, the (over)codified dialect taught in the cocoon called classroom (or self study course), the (language) Jacobinist's wet dream (or nightmare). The problem is not that people in Flanders (and I am sure also in the Netherlands, to a minor or different extent) speak their mother tongue (in itself a wild mixture), which differ from the text book Dutch, be it 'Flemish' or 'Netherlandic'*.

    The problem is that you didn't learn the other variants :-). Well, I think the real problem is that your text book or Dutch teacher didn't bother at all to have a look at those variants, at reality.
    But there is a lot your textbook doesn't bother about: style, register, formal versus informal, regional versus supraregional and the reality that in Dutch (as in any other language) all those features are mixed in a way that makes perfect sense to the speakers of that variant at that moment. I haven't seen a lot of handbooks which even mention this.

    After 7 years of teaching Dutch as a second language to adult migrants, I could give you a lot of anecdotes from the 'fantastic world of the (middle-classed) (language) teachers' perception of 19th century ideas', a.k.a (language) school, but I'l llimit myself to just one. Years ago I came across a course for Dutch on the worklfoor (in this case for construction workers) with the title "Kunt u mij de hamer even doorgeven, alstublieft?", made by somebody who never had seen a hammer in his whole life, let alone a construction site. I don't know where to start with pointing out on how many levels and on which levels this piece of perfect Standard Dutch is completely ridiculous, incredibly off the wall, utterly inappropriate and further removed from reality than planet Earth is removed from planet Zwork. Mind you, this is only the title. I'll spare you the rest of this piece of comic, absurd nonsense which cannot help anybody. Oh ja, it probably helps the students to pass the exam; it surely doesn't help them to get fully integrated and functional on the workfloor, outside the cocoon, in reality.

    I do realise that learners have to start somewhere, and I do realise that the starting point can be Standard Dutch. But limiting yourself to Standard Dutch isn't really a good idea if you want to 'learn (or teach) Dutch'.

    Does this make Dutch difficult to learn? Probably not more difficult than any other language.

    Groetjes,

    Frank

    PS: If you consider 'learning Dutch' as only learning the rules and the vocabulary of the highly artificial and idealised standard version which can be used in a small number of situations, then Blommaert's and Van Avermaet's essay on this matter "Taal, onderwijs en de samenleving. De kloof tussen beleid en realititeit" might be a slightly rude, but highly necessary wake up call from some sort of jacobinist (language) dreams. It's an off line text, formerly known as book.
    Keeping in mind that you can replace Dutch by any other language spoken in this universe and beyond.

    PPS: As usual, I use the words Flemish and 'Netherlandic' in reference to the regions/countries. Please do not confuse my usage of Flemish with the fictive, non-existing language 'Flemish, neither with the (existing West) Flemish dialect group.
    Last edited by Frank06; 18th February 2009 at 2:32 PM.
    If you open your mind too much, your brain might fall out.

  15. #55
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Super, Frank!
    And as I said, the problem isn't only with Dutch: in every language there is a difference between the official "Oxford" ideal and the gungo street coloquial stuff. And both are ... language.
    The problem with "distance" learning is that you can't go to the local bakery, butcher, ...construction site; it's hugely easier if you have access to those sources of interaction.
    (I will now self-impose radio silence on this subject)
    Pablo

  16. #56
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hallo Frank en Pablo!

    Ik stel voor om deze interessante discussie in het Nederlands voor te zetten. Uiteindelijk zijn we hier in de "Dutch" rubriek van de forum...

    De beginvraag was: "Is Dutch easy to learn?" Ik wou hierop mijn antwoord op basis van mij eigen ervaring geven: als vroegere leraar Frans voor anderstaligen en als "leerling" Nederlands, Engels en Duits. Een beperkte evaring, zoals altijd, maar het is de mijne.

    Mijn antwoord is dan:
    a) op zich lijkt ABN mij structureel eerder gemakkelijk. Er zijn specifieke moeilijkheden, uiteraard, maar je bent een aantal knelpunten in andere talen kwijt - ik gaf een drietal voorbeelden
    b) maar dan begint het pas want het zijn de regionale varianten die het moeilijk maken. Die zijn er in elke taal, akkoord, maar die zijn bij manier van spreken groter tussen Gent en Mechelen dan tussen Bordeaux en Lyon.

    Eigenlijk denk ik dat Frank deze stelling bevestigt als hij het heeft over de leerkracht die met de regionale varianten moet rekening houden ("I think the real problem is that your text book or Dutch teacher didn't bother at all to have a look at those variants, at reality.)

    Je zou het zo (vrij caricaturaal) kunnen stellen: de tijd die ik als leraar Frans in de vele en lastige onrelmatige vervoegingen moet steken, die moet jij als leraar Nederlands in de vele regionale varianten steken !

    Dus, het antwoord op "Is Dutch easy to learn?" zou voor mij zijn: het is even moeilijk maar de moeilijkheid is van een andere aard dan bij het Frans, bijvoorbeeld. Althans is dit, nog eens, mijn persoonlijke ervaring.

    Zijn wij hiermee min of meer akkoord? -))

    Groetjes !
    Last edited by Chimel; 19th February 2009 at 12:14 AM.

  17. #57
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lieven View Post
    > Word order seems to follow German as opposed to English rules.

    Bit off topic, but kinda interesting is that the English word order was like the Dutch and German one until only a couple of centuries ago.

    Old Modern English: Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offende
    Present day Enlgish: Hamlet, you have offended your father much.
    Dutch: Hamlet, je hebt je vader erg kwaad gemaakt
    And in German: Hamlet, du hast deinen Vater sehr verärgert. (looks similar to Old Modern English and Dutch)

    Since German has a flexion system the word order is not as restricted as in English. It can be S-V-O, O-V-S, Times & Places at the beginning or the end of the sentences. We just have the rule that the verb always takes the second position in a sentence.

    I don´t know much about Dutch, if its closer to English or German according word order.
    Last edited by Frank78; 19th February 2009 at 1:28 PM.
    It is not necessary that whilst I live I live happily; but it is necessary that so long as I live I should live honourably. (Immanuel Kant)

  18. #58
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    This thread lives its own life.

    Is Dutch easy to learn? I cannot answer that. I can state that it was relatively easy for me. Dutch seems to me to be simpler than French and German but more difficult than Spanish. If you live in the country and you need to speak it then within 1 year you can understand a lot and you can be understood. Getting it to a reasonable level of good grammar and writing takes some time.

    Regular exposure to Dutch language TV, radio, newspapers & humans is of prime importance. Reading your favourite books in a Dutch translation is also a good aid. Neccessity is the best stick that you will ever have.

    GF..
    Last edited by Frank06; 19th February 2009 at 4:59 PM.

  19. #59
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hi! I'm always listening for similarities between Dutch (my native language) and other Germanic languages like English, German and the Scandindavian languages (especially Swedish, which somehow I find very easy to understand). I especially love listening to English and discovering new similarities with Dutch all the time. There are loads, sometimes very funny ones.

    I think Dutch can be easy to learn, especially if you have some basic knowledge of any of the above Germanic languages (especially German). I can also see how the written Dutch is easier to master than the spoken language. To me it seems that Dutch in particular has a lot of words that are pronounced very differently from the written form.

    I always try to imagine what Dutch sounds like to a non-Dutch speaker. I imagine it sounds very guttoral and harsh and a lot like German (which sounds very harsh to me). Funny how you can't listen to your own language objectively. I can see how the "g" or "ch" (basically the same sound) can create problems with pronunciation. I always compare it's sound to "ch" in the Scottish word "loch". Just imagine you have something stuck in the back of your throat and you want it out, and you've got it!
    Last edited by Taalmsje; 20th February 2009 at 12:53 AM.

  20. #60
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taalmsje View Post
    To me it seems that Dutch in particular has a lot of words that are pronounced very differently from the written form.
    In comparison to English and Swedish?

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