Pronunciation of -en endings

българин

Senior Member
bulgarian
Yet, another pronunciation confusion in Dutch. It seems to me that the "n" endings are often left silent on some words, like "weken", "binnen", "zitten"....Is there a rule or are the speakers speaking too fast, thus the reason why I don't hear the "n" in the endings?
 
  • optimistique

    Senior Member
    You are right. The final -n is not pronounced after an unstressed -e- (which is a schwa). You just say 'weke', 'binne', 'zitte'.

    Note that as a result all verb infinitives in fact only consist of an '-e', since you don't pronounce the 'n' (with of course the exception of 'doen', 'staan', 'gaan', 'slaan', 'zien' & 'zijn', where the circumstances are different, so the -n is pronounced).
     

    jippie

    Senior Member
    Dutch living in Mexico
    I'm sorry Optimistique, but I don't agree. If the -en is followed by a vocal, you do pronounce the -n: ik ga 3 weken op vakantie. The only time the -n is not pronounced is in 'samenstellingen', for example binnenzitten.
     

    Qcumber

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I'm sorry Optimistique, but I don't agree. If the -en is followed by a vocal, you do pronounce the -n: ik ga 3 weken op vakantie. The only time the -n is not pronounced is in 'samenstellingen', for example binnenzitten.
    Is Leiden pronounced ['laid@n] or ['laid@] (@ = schwa).
    I remember hearing ['laid@] i.e. with a silent /n/, but a man from Flanders told me I should pronounce it ['laid@n] i.e. with the /n/.
     

    българин

    Senior Member
    bulgarian
    You are right. The final -n is not pronounced after an unstressed -e- (which is a schwa). You just say 'weke', 'binne', 'zitte'.

    Note that as a result all verb infinitives in fact only consist of an '-e', since you don't pronounce the 'n' (with of course the exception of 'doen', 'staan', 'gaan', 'slaan', 'zien' & 'zijn', where the circumstances are different, so the -n is pronounced).
    I am a bit puzzled by the "schwa" word? Can you please explain; is it a rule in the language, is it a sound...etc? So, who is right? jippie or optimistique?
     

    optimistique

    Senior Member
    First, the schwa is a sound. It is the vowel in Dutch words, like "'t", de, or in zitten, weken.

    Jippie, it's very well possible that you speak a variant of Dutch where you do pronounce the -n after a vowel, but I say:

    ik ga 3 weke op vakantie, so without -n.

    Also, I pronounce 'Leiden' without -n. It sounds very overpronounced with, but I admit that this can be different for speakers from other regions, so I think everybody is right in this case.
     

    Kirpan

    New Member
    South Africa
    Most people from the Northern provinces of the Netherlands do pronounce the -N at the end of a word, even stress it. Some people from other provinces also prefer to pronounce the N. It may sometimes be considered hypercorrect, but it is not always. For the Northerners it is the only correct way of speaking. They may however swallow the E, so a word may sound like Leidn, or Noordn.
     

    Kirpan

    New Member
    South Africa
    Yes, in names like Hellen or Ellen etc. the N is always pronounced in (as far as I kinow) all provinces of Holland and Belgium and also in Afrikaans (as I am now in Kaapstad)
     

    -MilicianA-

    Senior Member
    Belgium - Dutch, English
    Most people from the Northern provinces of the Netherlands do pronounce the -N at the end of a word, even stress it. Some people from other provinces also prefer to pronounce the N. It may sometimes be considered hypercorrect, but it is not always. For the Northerners it is the only correct way of speaking. They may however swallow the E, so a word may sound like Leidn, or Noordn.
    The same thing happens in the provinces of West- and East-Flanders, where they "swallow" the -e yet pronounce the -n. Often a cost of whatever letter stands before the -en. (for example, "moeten" sounds like moe'n).

    Yes, in names like Hellen or Ellen etc. the N is always pronounced in (as far as I kinow) all provinces of Holland and Belgium and also in Afrikaans (as I am now in Kaapstad)
    In Belgium, a name such as "Steven" (with Dutch pronounciation, not the English one), or "Maarten", the same thing occurs as in "zitten". E sounds, N disappears.
     

    Dada_

    Member
    It's not like the n is never pronounced in such cases. It's just that a lot of people don't seem to do it. It's an accent thing.

    Another frequent occurrence is the n sounding like it's part of another word. For example, in "ik ga drie weken op vakantie", you might hear "we-ke-nop va-kan-tie (etc.)", especially when people talk quickly.
     

    MarX

    Banned
    Indonesian, Indonesia
    Hej!

    I guess it is an accent thing.
    My relatives in Huizen drop their -n.

    In German there are many accents (Rheinisch, Schwäbisch, etc.) where you drop the -n, while others, including the "standard" pronunciation, drops or "swallows" the -e- instead.
    So the words Hafen, Wochen, gewinnen, sitzen can be pronounced as hafm, wochng, gewinnn, sitzn or hafe, woche, gewinne, sitze, although the latter are considered dialectal.
    Interestingly, I've never heard any native German speaker on normal speed pronouncing -en as -en. Either the -e- is dropped, or the -n.

    Groetjes,


    MarX
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Let's look on the bright side, especially if Dutch is your second language.

    If you pronounce or do not pronounce the n, then nearly every Dutch person understands you....

    And when they reply to you in English..... they have similar problems...

    C'est la vie.
     

    Vegetable

    New Member
    Belgium - Dutch
    It often occurs that the -n isn't pronounced, but as some already mentioned it is always pronounced when followed by a vowel (and sometimes H), to link the words.
    example:
    "We moeten ons verdedigen" -> "moetenons"
    "Wij zitten hier" -> "zittenier"
    "Jullie hebben goed gewerkt" -> "hebbe goed"
     

    Dada_

    Member
    To elaborate on Vegetable's post, it really depends on what's easiest to pronounce.

    In "We moeten ons verdedigen." it's better to keep the "n", since "moe-te-nons" is easier to pronounce than "moe-te ons".

    Whereas in "Jullie hebben goed gewerkt.", it's better to drop the "n", since "heb-be-goed" is easier to pronounce than "heb-ben goed".

    (Note that, in my examples, the dashes indicate pieces of text that can be pronounced in one "chain", whereas spaces indicate a pause.)
     

    SonicXT

    New Member
    Dutch (Flemish)
    It often occurs that the -n isn't pronounced, but as some already mentioned it is always pronounced when followed by a vowel (and sometimes H), to link the words.
    example:
    "We moeten ons verdedigen" -> "moetenons"
    "Wij zitten hier" -> "zittenier"
    "Jullie hebben goed gewerkt" -> "hebbe goed"
    Hmm, I was always used to omitting the schwa vowel if the "-en" word is following by a word that starts with a vowel and somehow overstressing the consonants before the "en"
    So in your exampels I would tend to say "wij moe'tons" and "wij zi'tier", with a slight rise in tone before the ' and a drop afterwards. The ' represent a really short silence.

    Ain't sure if this would be an acceptable way of pronouncing it, but it's what I'm used to.
     

    optimistique

    Senior Member
    Hmm, I was always used to omitting the schwa vowel if the "-en" word is following by a word that starts with a vowel and somehow overstressing the consonants before the "en"
    So in your exampels I would tend to say "wij moe'tons" and "wij zi'tier", with a slight rise in tone before the ' and a drop afterwards. The ' represent a really short silence.

    Ain't sure if this would be an acceptable way of pronouncing it, but it's what I'm used to.
    I was thinking exactly the same, that's how I would pronounce it too.
     

    Greetd

    Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    That would as a rule only be true in a few loanwords... I'm too tired to come up with any better example than "elentriek", right now, which is 1) non-standard and 2) dialectally masculine
    Greet, it's different for compounds, as you know. Few people would pronounce the /n/ in kippensoep.

    (Mind also for example that auslaut devoicing still applies in compounds: I'm sorry I can't come up with a better example right now but huisverkoper has [sf], while it's [z] in huizen.)
    Grytolle, you isolated a statement out of my explanation, it doesn't make sense without the sentence after that. :)

    I said: "The -n- is pronounced because it is in the middle of a word. The /n/ sound changes to /m/ under the influence of the /b/, this is called assimilation; /m/ and /b/ are both bilabial sounds (produced with the lips)."

    Maybe I should rephrase that to make it more clear, though:
    "The -n- is, in this case, pronounced because it is not on the end of a word but in the middle of a word AND it is followed by a /b/, which makes the /n/ change to /m/".
    Another example of this is "verhalenboek" [verhalemboek]. An example without a compound is "een metalen bril", where you could choose between the pronunciation [metalebril] or [metalembril] because it's not a compound.

    I agree that in other cases, for example kippensoep, the -n- is not pronounced, but that's because it is in that case followed by a /s/.

    (Sorry Frank, I don't mean to go off topic, but I really wanted to clear up that misunderstanding. Also, it's an interesting discussion indeed, maybe it could be split off from this topic and we could continue in a new one? :) )
     

    LoveVanPersie

    Senior Member
    Mandarin, Hakka
    Yes, in names like Hellen or Ellen etc. the N is always pronounced in (as far as I kinow) all provinces of Holland and Belgium and also in Afrikaans (as I am now in Kaapstad)
    In Belgium, a name such as "Steven" (with Dutch pronounciation, not the English one), or "Maarten", the same thing occurs as in "zitten". E sounds, N disappears.
    What about names and surnames like Arjen, Coren, Lauren, Owen, Ruben, Steffen, Bertens, Martens, Mertens? :confused: :confused:
    And did you mean the n of Steven with English pronunciation in Dutch isn't elided?
     
    Last edited:

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    What about names and surnames like Arjen, Coren, Lauren, Owen, Ruben, Steffen, Bertens, Martens, Mertens? :confused: :confused:
    And did you mean the n of Steven with English pronunciation in Dutch isn't elided?
    It only happens with Maarte(n), Steve(n) and Rube(n). Maybe some other names, but not the ones you mention. Also not with Ellen. However, my surname ends with -ellen and I always drop the N.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    Does this elision happen in singing as frequent as under other circumstances?
    Probably not in the past, but nowadays it is pretty much standardized. It is like not pronouncing the T in "often" in English.

    According to Marc van Oostendorp, it was still common for Dutch newscasters to pronounce every final N in 1985, but by 1992, many Ns were dropped.
     

    bibibiben

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Netherlands
    I was thinking exactly the same, that's how I would pronounce it too.
    Yes, agreed.

    Even a proper name like Ellen can lose its final n in many positions, if not all. I am personally inclined to maintain n in rare or foreign sounding names such as Owen, Lauren and Coren. Arjen will probably keep its n in most positions because of its close association with Arjan, but I'm not too sure of it. Maarten, Marten, Steffen, Steven and Ruben are very unlikely to keep their n's. These run-of-the-mill names will be easily understood with an elided n.
     
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