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Thread: Dutch: Easy to learn?

  1. #141
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hello,

    I am very new to this web site and just wanted to read a bit of this Dutch thread. My mother's mother's parents moved here (US) from the Netherlands. I wish Dutch were taught here where I live, but I did try to learn some from a teach-yourself tape.

    I am just posting this to say that I am thrilled that I can read some of the Dutch posted here. I studied German years and years ago and I am really happy that I can read some of these Dutch sentences!

  2. #142
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lopes View Post
    And when we're not tactful we're just honest

    This may sounds like a silly question and I don't mean to play down on the problems of learning Dutch, but aren't the word order-rules just something that you can memorize by constantly repeating?
    I guess so, but I think it comes more easily with a lot of reading and listening. Word order in Dutch (and I suppose any other language with similar syntax) strikes me as fairly fluid until it suddenly becomes rigid, at least in the sense of: "this part of speech can go mostly anywhere, but it usually goes here and absolutely cannot go there". The conjugated verb is a special case, but when you have to consider this for all parts of speech and all types of clauses, it gets kind of messy ("If er goes here, is it ok to put nu there? Then where does wel go?").

    Edit: A convenient example.
    Last edited by killerbees; 30th March 2011 at 11:39 PM. Reason: convenient coincidence

  3. #143
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Alas the difficulties (perceived or real) of learning Dutch/Flemish continue to haunt us. We only have to recall the tragic railway accident at Pécrot.
    On that particular occasion a Walloon official tried to ring a Flemish official to warn of the impending disaster only to be greet by the words "Can't you speak Flemish", which he could not and the disaster was not averted.

    As for identity politics and ethnicity, my experience is that people from the Netherlands are markedly less defensive towards outsiders speaking their language than so-called Flemings are.

  4. #144
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beninjam View Post
    On that particular occasion a Walloon official tried to ring a Flemish official to warn of the impending disaster only to be greet by the words "Can't you speak Flemish", which he could not and the disaster was not averted.
    It was outrageous!

    Quote Originally Posted by Beninjam View Post
    As for identity politics and ethnicity, my experience is that people from the Netherlands are markedly less defensive towards outsiders speaking their language than so-called Flemings are.
    I share your impression that Flemings have few reserves to use their language (or dialect, for that matter) for the sake of concealment -- or like Frank says, to mark ingroup-outgroup boundaries, thereby explicitly -- and sometimes hurtfully -- excluding people.

    The past few months I've been working with a combination of Belgians and expats, where the former really had to be made aware about how often they would switch to Dutch. It took quite some time for them to realize that speaking Dutch given the context, even with only one expat around, is basically just rude. In May I'll be going to Berlin where the environment should be equally internationally mixed, so soon I should be able to tell how sensible the Germans are with regard to this.

  5. #145
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Dear Joannes

    I do think this aspect is somewhat fraught. Speaking another language puts you at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the native squeaker. It is courteous to speak another language in the presence of guests, but when the guest uses his/her preeminence in the other language to dominate the discours, the hosts somewhat naturally switch back to their own language.
    That said, although the apparent level of skill in English may be very good (particularly when compared with the skill of the English native) it may well not be good enough to convey subtleties of meaning and for invoking familiar concepts and totem words, which in some conversations is often quite important.

  6. #146
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    We do seem to have got distracted by how we should behave towards one another. Shouldn't we get back to basics and leave out most of the problems of our behaviour towards one another.

    From this English speaker's view point I state:-

    Dutch is easy to read, relatively easy to speak and difficult to write.
    French is easy to read, fairly diifficult to speak and is difficult to write.
    German was easy to read, diifficult to speak and was difficult to write.
    Spanish was easy to read, relatively easy to speak and was not so difficult to write.

    But then, my exposure to Dutch and the daily necessity to speak Dutch was for many a year.....

    My general observations about other English speakers in The Netherlands is that it if they wanted to speak Dutch and they put the effort into learning Dutch they became reasonable at reading and speaking..

    If you have daily exposure to the language, the neccessity to learn it and the will to succeed, then it is not too hard to learn enough to survive the daily grind in The Netherlands.... But, you must refuse to speak English... except during the first few months and thank your lucky stars that so many of the Dutch speak English...... But, you must break that habit.

    If you become able to think in (bad) Dutch then that is fine.. You must use Dutch as much as possible. Some of the Dutch television is not that bad either... Read the (online-) Dutch newspapers .... They are not so bad...

    If you got O-level French at school in the UK then Dutch should be easy...

    But why am I repeating myself??? I am just making a summary of earlier posts. I shall no longer participate in this Thread, unless I see something that is really dumb....

    Easy is about 5 years of being in the county......

    GF..

    Tot de volgende keer....
    I must do more research.

  7. #147
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Dutch is easy to read, relatively easy to speak and difficult to write.
    French is easy to read, fairly diifficult to speak and is difficult to write.
    German was easy to read, diifficult to speak and was difficult to write.
    Spanish was easy to read, relatively easy to speak and was not so difficult to write.
    Why the change of tense, George?

    I think every language has its particular difficulties. Spanish although seductively easy at first sight get progressively more difficult.
    I found French to be difficult at first, but as you get on it gets easier.
    But even though I have been speaking Dutch for 35 yrs or more and got a degree in a Dutch-speaking institution, it still feels foreign to me in a way that French doesn't. Even though my functional competence in French is not as great, I can only attribute it to cultural differences and convergences.
    Thinks that Saint Jerome had the right end of the stick

  8. #148
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beninjam View Post
    Why the change of tense, George?

    I think every language has its particular difficulties. Spanish although seductively easy at first sight get progressively more difficult.
    I found French to be difficult at first, but as you get on it gets easier.
    But even though I have been speaking Dutch for 35 yrs or more and got a degree in a Dutch-speaking institution, it still feels foreign to me in a way that French doesn't. Even though my functional competence in French is not as great, I can only attribute it to cultural differences and convergences.
    My post was personal, about MY experience with foreign languages.... I know a few UKers contemporary to me, who have lived and worked in The Netherlands. They had similar exposure to at least French (the default foreign language in secondary school in our days in the UK) and straat Dutch in The Netherlands. I have hardly ever met an older Brit in The Netherlands who did not have French in their O level package in the UK. Most arrived in the The Netherlands without any Dutch, including me.

    I learnt Spanish and some German when I was quite young and have had little exposure to both them in many a decade. I have recently tried to read some Spanish and German just to see. I can pick my way through some simple stuff but that's the limit... My French is my current problem and using English is normal state.... Africaans is also surprisingly easy to read...

    I lived in The Netherlands for a few decades and I could think in both English and Dutch. I do not claim to be good English writer and my written Dutch is the product of a Dutch Word Spelling and Grammar checker and an online English Dutch translator.

    I used to be able to follow some real Rotterdamse/Haags as well, but those days are long gone...

    Summary:-
    • Dutch is (relatively) easy to learn..... If and only if:-
      • you have the time to teach yourself
      • you have some good lessons
      • you have the right conditions to learn that fits you
      • you speak Dutch in you daily lifee
    • Is it easy to master? No.
    GF..

    Definitely my last post on this thread...
    If I believe that then I am a Dutchman....

    Unfortunately I knew many UKers who lived in The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam who made no real attempt to learn Dutch.
    I must do more research.

  9. #149
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    If I lived in Belgium, Dutch would be easy for me to learn.

  10. #150
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by George French View Post
    ...
    Unfortunately I knew many UKers who lived in The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam who made no real attempt to learn Dutch.
    I have known UKers in the far west of Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain who make absolutely no effort to learn the lingo that the local johnnies speak. The imperviousness of a certain kind of Briton to any hint of going native is legendary. In it's worst form you could even describe it as a sort of linguistic imperialism. Although I think the ultimate losers in the game are the impervious themselves.
    Thinks that Saint Jerome had the right end of the stick

  11. #151
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beninjam View Post
    I have known UKers in the far west of Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain who make absolutely no effort to learn the lingo that the local johnnies speak. The imperviousness of a certain kind of Briton to any hint of going native is legendary. In it's worst form you could even describe it as a sort of linguistic imperialism. Although I think the ultimate losers in the game are the impervious themselves.
    And many of them take Americanisms on board without a single thought...
    The imperial power in English is the USA... Or is it?? ...What about East Asia??

    GF..

    But what has that got to do with the ease, or not, of learniing Dutch?
    I must do more research.

  12. #152
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    I learned Dutch in school and I am German so it wasn't that difficult for me. Dutch is very similar to German but there are a few differences in grammar. I think what is very difficult for a not native speaker is that you have to remember the article of a noun (in the German language we have three and I only know the right article because I "feel" what is right :P it's hard to explain ). So I also had to remember which article goes with which noun. There are only sometimes hints which article you have to use.
    I think the pronounciation isn't so hard to learn. My first lesson Dutch started with this. And if you have a teacher which directly teach you this I think it will work. Because pronounciation isn't sth you have to understand, you only have to learn it. And I myself feel "safer" when I know how to pronounce sth.
    A big problem for an English native speaker is maybe the word order. I can't remember how "difficult" it was to learn the English word order years ago but I think it is always difficult to learn a new language which has another word order than the native language.
    But what I like most of the Dutch language is that it sounds so funny I don't know whether I think this because I am a German native speaker or if the rest of the world thinks that too :P

  13. #153
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hi Judy I have a very good knowledge of German including word order. It causes me no problems . I can read a bit of Dutch. Would quite like to learn a bit but doubt I would get any practice as natives would speak English to me . The Germans still do it even though I am fluent

  14. #154
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    I'm English i learned italian it was very difficult because it was so different. I achieved the same level of Dutch in a fraction of the time as Dutch and English have so many similarities , anyone who says different is ill informed

  15. #155
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominic's View Post
    I'm English i learned italian it was very difficult because it was so different. I achieved the same level of Dutch in a fraction of the time as Dutch and English have so many similarities , anyone who says different is ill informed
    I have also learnt Italian. I agree that it is not an easy language to learn but I am helped by having done French. I still think that I would not get enough practice if I tried Dutch . I definitely find it harder to remember new vocab now compared to when I first learnt French and German .
    Please do correct my text if needed! Thanks

  16. #156
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by George French View Post
    And many of them take Americanisms on board without a single thought...
    The imperial power in English is the USA... Or is it?? ...What about East Asia??

    GF..

    But what has that got to do with the ease, or not, of learniing Dutch?

    Well you did bring the subject up.
    Thinks that Saint Jerome had the right end of the stick

  17. #157
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    We have many French words in the English language and I really don't mind, I know the French are trying to ban english words from their language that's their prerogative . To be honest I agree with them as Americanisms are creeping in everywhere . I've even heard english presenters (restoration man) using phrases such as "I'm super excited" or "I'm super super pleased with this restoration" he sounds like a half wit, not a patch on that middle class hero Kevin macloud ( I'm working class by the way)

  18. #158
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    [QUOTE=Dominic's;13315250]I know the French are trying to ban english words from their language that's their prerogative . [\QUOTE]

    Even they, the French' are using English phrases. "The weekend" being very common. My French teacher even points out the English bits and accepts that they are quite useable. It's even in some of the French teaching material we have...

    GF..

    Asides:-. Once you have learnt Dutch it sticks in the brain. I often online translate from Dutch to French, now that shows up many similarities in vocabulary and also you can use it to verify an on-line Dutch to English translation. One can use this to help in learning Dutch if your French is any good....
    I must do more research.

  19. #159
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    As someone with rather extensive knowledge of English and a merely basic knowledge of German, I wouldn't say I find Dutch particularly difficult. I have been learning it for about a year and a half and can understand written texts almost fully or only the gist, depending on the type of text (I usually find more complicated texts like Wikipedia articles easier to understand than, for example, folk stories).
    I would say that I don't find the pronunciation any more difficult than the pronunciation of most languages spoken in Europe, that I find the orthography very convenient (since I'm learning from written texts and only have contact with the written language, I don't have any trouble with pairs like "ij" vs "ei" or "v" vs "w" or "ch" vs "g"), that I find the vocabulary quite easy (since most of the words are already familiar to me or easy to grasp because they are similar in some way to words that I am already familiar with, which is almost never the case with, for example, learning Hungarian vocabulary), and that I find the grammar the most problematic.
    In regard to the grammar, I find it troublesome (though not really difficult, since it only boils down to memorizing) to learn each word's gender, to learn how the particles and any similar words that express the speaker's attitude or mood work (e.g. maar, wel, toch, eens...) but also some adverbs which don't appear to contribute to the sentence's meaning significantly, to learn when and how to use the word "er", to learn the non-basic word order (how to arrange adverbs when more of them appear, how to treat one-word adverbs as opposed to adverbial phrases as opposed to adverbial clauses, when to separate the voornaamwoordelijke bijwoorden and after what exactly to place the preposition, when to use SOV order in subordinate clauses fully and when to use it for the first part of the clause as in the already discussed sentence with waiting for the bus, how to arrange the modal verbs since they don't always appear to go in default order, etc...), to learn when to use the short or long form of adjectives considering there are fixed phrases where the basic rules don't apply, and so on... There are some other tricky things, like learning which verb goes with which preposition and so on, but those are not really specific to Dutch.
    I find that German grammar, although allegedly more complex, is more logical. While there are some cumbersome constructions, they appear to be rather rigid in their form, whereas their Dutch counterparts are unstable. An example is the SOV word order in subordinate clauses, which is not as strictly adhered to as in German. It strikes me that as the Dutch grammar got simplified (I presume that it was more similar to German in the past and that German grammar as it is now was rather similar to the grammar of one or more of the ancestors of German, Dutch, and English), it became more complicated to deal with.
    Last edited by 123xyz; 15th June 2013 at 11:33 PM. Reason: Capitalization error

  20. #160
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    I took German for years so I did not find Dutch that difficult to learn once in Amsterdam. I did find it incredibly difficult to learn back home, however, because simply finding resources was difficult. I eventually ended up taking a class with a woman in her 80s, using a book that was written in the 70s. I think languages are significantly harder if you are not able to expose yourself to them. Here, for example, there are no less than 6 TV stations in Spanish and I could find a native Spanish speaker to talk to with no difficulty whatsoever. My neighbors are Guatemalan. Dutch is not a widely spoken language (at least internationally) so this makes it rather difficult to learn well without actually visiting The Netherlands or Belgium.

    My two cents anyway...
    Last edited by Alby84; 17th June 2013 at 5:12 PM.
    "You can be a little ungrammatical if you come from the right part of the country" - Robert Frost

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