Uitspraak: Silent "n"

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vermillionxtears

Senior Member
American English (general American dialect)
Goedendag! :D

Whenever I listen to something in Dutch, I become increasingly frustrated with words ending in -en.
For instance, this sentence:
Ik moet mijn moeder antwoorden.
For some reason, there seems to be NO "n" pronounced in antwoorden.
Is this an actual occurrence, or am I just not listening correctly?
Perhaps in standard Dutch an "n" at the end of a word is just pronounced very softly?

Ik weet het niet, maar dank jullie. xD
 
  • Lopes

    Senior Member
    Dutch (Amsterdam)
    First, antwoorden has 2 n's ;)

    Second, the final n in verbs and plurals is not pronounced (except for the verbs zijn, doen, zienand gaan and forms like Ik ben, because the accent is placed on the syllable with the n in these words).

    Some 10 years ago we still used to write 'pannekoeken' without the 'tussen-n', but for some reason they've changed that.

    Third, I've never really studied Dutch grammar, so it's possible that I've forgotten some things now.. But that will be corrected, I'm sure :)
     
    Well, it's like this:

    Technically, you're supposed to pronounce the -n in 'antwoorden', but nowadays hardly anyone does it anymore. So the "antwoorde" you hear is just a common Dutch speech pattern. Almost everyone does it.

    Lopes is right on the exceptions. Goes for all monosyllabic words, really, as well as polysyllabic words where stress is on the final syllable ('telefoon' for example). In those cases you have to pronounce the -n, or it will change the meaning of the word in many cases ('zijn' - to be, becomes 'zij' - she, for instance).

    The reason we do this is just to speed up our speech. Ease of articulation, really. But for second language learners it can be very annoying, especially if you're a beginner and don't know how all the words are spelled. It's just an annoyance you're gonna have to get used to.
     

    vermillionxtears

    Senior Member
    American English (general American dialect)
    Yes, I suppose so.
    I will admit that it adds a rhythmitic effect to the speech, but this being my third language, I have an itch to say the n at the end.

    First, antwoorden has 2 n's ;)
    I'm sorry, I meant to put final n. :eek:

    I'll take it as a rule that, in an unstressed syllable ending in n, that n is ignored.

    Danke jullie weer. ^^
     

    Lopes

    Senior Member
    Dutch (Amsterdam)
    Goes for all monosyllabic words, really, as well as polysyllabic words where stress is on the final syllable ('telefoon' for example).


    I'll take it as a rule that, in an unstressed syllable ending in n, that n is ignored.
    Well, I thought it was with final n's after a "stomme" e, so it doesn't count for composed words like 'lúchtballon' (but maybe, because they are composed words, they don't count anyway)
     
    I don't think compounds suffer the same 'silent n', like Lopes said. If you take 'luchthaven' (lucht + haven), I think most, if not all people, WOULD pronounce the -n.

    Thing is, there are no official rules regarding this, so it's a bit difficult to explain.

    When in doubt, just pronounce the -n, eventually you'll get a grasp of when it's possibly to keep it silent.
     

    Joannes

    Senior Member
    Belgian Dutch
    'middag allemaal,

    Technically, you're supposed to pronounce the -n in 'antwoorden', but nowadays hardly anyone does it anymore.
    Actually, you're not: take a look here, here and more extensively here (under n).

    I don't think compounds suffer the same 'silent n', like Lopes said. If you take 'luchthaven' (lucht + haven), I think most, if not all people, WOULD pronounce the -n.
    So you would not pronounce the final /n/ in haven but you would pronounce the one in luchthaven?! I wouldn't, and I'm pretty sure that's standard.

    I'll take it as a rule that, in an unstressed syllable ending in n, that n is ignored.
    Please don't, this is the 'rule', I'll try to translate, just in case:
    In spoken Dutch one can omit the final /n/ in case it is preceded by an unstressed <e> (a shwa /ə/): kerke(n), opene(n), etc. If the following word begins with a vowel, the final /n/ is usually pronounced, as a linking consonant: we openen een fles. You should also pronounce the final /n/ with verbs the stem of which ends in -en in the present tense of the first person singular: ik teken, ik open, etc. While reciting texts, speakers tend to pronounce the final /n/ systematically - influenced by the spelling. This can bring about an unnatural reading style.
    Paardenkooper's explanation is more detailed - I hope you understand it.

    Danke jullie weer. ^^
    Danke is German. ;) Note, by the way, that dank jullie sounds a bit odd, it is not as idiomatic as dank je or dank u. Dank jullie wel works better - no idea why.. (And of course there's always bedankt, which works regardless of the number or status of interlocutors. :))
     

    vermillionxtears

    Senior Member
    American English (general American dialect)
    Please don't, this is the 'rule', I'll try to translate, just in case:
    Thank you very much; this was extremely helpful.
    (I'm just a beginner, so thanks for translating it as well. :D I wouldn't have understood much.)

    Danke is German. ;) Note, by the way, that dank jullie sounds a bit odd, it is not as idiomatic as dank je or dank u. Dank jullie wel works better - no idea why.. (And of course there's always bedankt, which works regardless of the number or status of interlocutors. :))
    BEDANKT. xD
    Danke was a typo. I'm very used to typing in German as opposed to Dutch, so it's sometimes difficult to spell things correctly.
    Also very helpful.
     

    Uticens678

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    Hi everybody! I have the following question: are final "n" silent even when they are plural endings? Thank you in advance!
     

    ottaviocr

    Senior Member
    UK
    Italian
    Paardenkooper's explanation is more detailed - I hope you understand it.
    Incidentally, and probably off-topic, I use Paardekooper's ABN-uitspraakgids intensively, but I think his idea of pronunciation is a bit too extreme towards the colloquial style or probably obsolete. For example, he advocates dropping the "d" in between consonants in all occasions (example: goeje vs goede, houwen vs houden and so on), which is something you don't hear often on tv or radio but only in very colloquial and informal circumstances.

    I have noticed, but I could be wrong, that speakers of the VRT "Het Journaal" almost always make an effort of pronouncing the final -en, at least senior presenters like Martine Tanghe.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    I have noticed, but I could be wrong, that speakers of the VRT "Het Journaal" almost always make an effort of pronouncing the final -en, at least senior presenters like Martine Tanghe.
    Martine Tanghe's original dialect rarely drops final -n.
     
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