Dutch 'V' and Dutch "w", confusion

Discussion in 'Nederlands (Dutch)' started by DerDrache, Jul 15, 2007.

  1. DerDrache Banned

    Montréal, QC
    I can't seem to figure out what the Dutch "v" is supposed to sound like. I live in Belgium, so I'm using resources from standard Netherlands Dutch, as well as natives from Belgium. Sometimes the "v" sounds like an English v, but other times it sounds like an "f". I've even asked people here directly, and they usually tell me that it's like the "v" sound. However, when I hear Netherlands Dutch, I think it sounds more like an "f".

    So, does that letter's pronunciation vary between various regions, between various words, or am I just hearing it wrong?

    ALSO, what about the Dutch "w". I'm inclined to pronounce it like an English "v", and sometimes it sounds like that, but other times it sounds like a "w".

  2. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Dutch /v/ is pronounced in different ways depending on region and position in the word.

    In the Netherlands initial /v/s are very often devoiced to [f], in some regions (e.g. Holland) this even happens for all /v/s, everywhere, i.e. /v/ and /f/ practically coincide.

    In Belgium people still make a clear difference between /v/ and /f/ undependently of its position in a word. Research showed that initial /v/s are sometimes devoiced too, though. But in that case the /v/ is lengthened a bit, which keeps the contrast with /f/.

    About /w/: in the Netherlands people do tend to pronounce it as a labiodental approximant rather than a bilabial one, but there remains a clear contrast with /v/, because /w/ is an approximant and because /v/ sometimes merges with /f/ in the North (see above).

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