Friday, May 11

15 Lekker Dutch Words and Phrases

Dutch is a hilarious language to learn. Especially for an English speaker. There are sounds involved heretofore unknown to this English speaker's ears. Consonants like the guttural "g" and dipthongs like "ui" which cause a person to contort her mouth into previously unknown positions. The dead giveaway that you are not a native Dutch speaker is not being able to flow through those sounds without knitting eyebrows together and crinkling the nose into a knot to try and get your lips around it all. Really, the hilarity of it all is knowing the facial antics I run through as I not only try to remember the words to speak, but also the pronunciation rules, is a side-show worthy of Marcel Marceau. Or to update the refererence just a bit: Step aside Mr. Bean! I am speaking Dutch!

Following is a list of some of my favorite words and phrases. Some I chose because they are particularly fun to say, and some are on this list because the 'similarity' to English words which mean something totally different is just too funny to pass up mentioning. Read on and you will see what I mean. I have done my best to give you a pronunciation guide and a definition for each. There shall be no holding me to the mistakes within this post, please. I am not a language teacher, and really only muddle through it myself. The language I mean, not my life. But, you really should try to wrap your trap around these words. After all, I have to.

Oh, where to begin?

1. Goedenmorgen (khoot-ahn-more-khen) Good morning.
Gotta give that guttural "g" a push at the beginning and the middle of this word.

2. Langzaam (Lahng-sahmm) Slowly.
A useful word to use in the phrase "Spreek je langzamer?" (spreak ya lahng-sahmm-er) Will you speak slower?

3. Uitstekend (OWT-steak-ent) Outstanding.
I love this word. It is simply outstanding fabulous.

4. Gereserveerd (Kheh-ress-er-feart) Reserved.
Not to be confused with the word Geserveerd (Kheh-sir-feart) which is Served.
I don't know why but my brain can't keep these two straight. I get confused when I read a menu and it says the entree will be served with a side of potatoes, and I always wonder why I have to reserve the potatoes?

5. Broodje (Brrroat-cha) Bread, or sandwich.
Roll that "r" in the first syllable. It's a lot of fun. And a lot of fun to eat.

6. Geen Geld Gegeven. (Khayn Khelt Khe-khay-vahn) No money given.
I don't know that you would ever hear this as an actual phrase in Dutch, but it's a dandy way to practice the "g" sound. In the early months of living here, this was a constant chant around our house.

7. Vliegtuig (Flea-kh-tukh) Airplane.
Again two "g" 's in a single word. Now that's just silly.

8. Patatkraam (pah-taht-krahm) Frites stand. French Fry place.
Yummy in my tummy.

9. Rond Vaart (rrroant fahrt) Round trip.
Once you get the pronunciation and translation of this one, you alter it slightly and get "round fart". And if you are a 13-year old boy, this cracks you up every time.

10. Aardappel (ahrrt-ahpell) Potato.
Literally: Earth apple. Other favorites on this theme Aardbei (ahrrt-buy) Strawberry or lit: Earth berry; and Aardworm (ahrrt-verm) You guess this one. Yup. Earthworm.
Incidentally, the word for "pretty" is Aardig (ahrrt-ikh) which given the root of the words here, as 'earth' or 'natural' gives that compliment lovely, fresh meaning. As in natural beauty.

11. Hoe heet je? (hoo hate ya) Who are you? or literally 'how are you called'?
This phrase can cause a little consternation on the playground because the benign 'what's your name' question sounds an awful lot like "who hates you?" to a native English speaker.

12. Achtentachtig (ahkht-en-tahkh-tikh) Eighty-eight. As in 88.
Another really great practice word to get your mouth around the 'ch' sound which is oh-so-similar to that lovely "g".

13. Wil je iets eten? (Vill ya eights ate-en) Would you like something to eat?
Seriously this is like my favorite phrase ever, and not just because of the content of the question. I love the way it rolls off the tongue. I look for ways to work it into conversation often. The other phrase working its way into my vocabulary in abundance lately, "Wil je koffie?" (Vill ya kohf-ee)
Yeah, I am pretty much a coffee junkie now. Would you like a cup?

14. Hoe gaat het met jou? (hoo khat het met yow) How is it going or How are you.
Really. That's my question. How are you doing with your Dutch lesson?

15. Gefeliciteerd (kheh-fell-iss-ah-teart) Congratulated or Congratulations.
As in Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag! (kheh-fell-iss-ah-teart met ya fur-yahr-dahkh) which is to say 'Happy Birthday'. But far more fitting would be U beëindigde uw Nederlandse les. Gefeliciteerd! (oo buh-ayn-dikh-tahn oo nay-der-lahns less) You just finished your Dutch lesson. Congratulations!

Fijne Weekend Allemaal!

Tot straks.


  1. Oh, cool. These are great! I've been mispronouncing the occasional Dutch words I've come across. Bummer.

    Happy Friday!

  2. That was great! I agree the words are pretty darn funny. My neighbor is Dutch so I am going to use your list to surprise him with a few words when I see him next. HA!!

  3. cat-
    in Dutch you say Jammer (yah-mehrr) what a pity.
    Thanks for coming by!

    I think it's fascinating to hear about Dutch neighbors and Dutch speakers in places you'd never expect!
    Take your neighbor a plate of treats (you do like this neighbor right?)and when you offer it to him say Alsjeblieft (ahls-ya-bleeft) which means please, and here you are, and thanks, depending on the circumstance. It's a multi-use, polite word!

  4. I am such a dork, I love language stuff. You asked what I speak? I speak French, Vietnamese and Polish (the latter 2 were Army-trained) and I can read a little German. I took a year of Hawaiian, too, when I was stationed there.

  5. Jenn--

    Whoa! I am suddenly flashing back to the first day of German Diction class in Music School...not a pretty day for me. Growing up nearly the Canadian border in NY State, I had/have all kinds of ugly pronunciation ticks and quirks - and we were required to take German, French, Italian - and English Diction!! Great fun post! Ken

  6. Kiki-
    Wow. That's quite a list. I am envious. This is my first real attempt at learning an additional language (I took French in Jr. High School but that really doesn't count). I am so in awe of those who speak multiple langages!

    All that language training for singing I guess? How about now, down in N'arlens? Do you have a little cajun in the accent? A drawl?

  7. Oh, that post hurt! And one of the boys' best buddies in preschool was Dutch. I would just glaze over when they spoke Dutch to each other.

  8. songbird-
    Graag Gedaan!

    I get the glaze over by the end of the day. My brain gets too saturated and I suddenly can't comprehend it any longer!

  9. Jenn, I still remember the phone conversation with my day - a few years after moving here - when I said "Y'all". There was dead silence on the other end of the line, then he just busted out laughing at me. Ha ha...

    The big one I struggle with (and I realize this in not just the South that does this) is the dropped final "g" as in floodin' and lootin'...I now hear it all the time from news anchors and teachers and ARRGGHH!!! (OK, off my soapbox :-)

  10. ambassador-
    I have a really good friend here who has a thick, and I mean thick, Texas accent on her English. I have long wondered if her Dutch and her German (both of which she is fluent in) also have a "twang"!

    And, that ends of the words disappearing is a Utah thing as well. As well as several other annoying pronunciations.
    (Already apologizing to you Brillig!)

  11. Oh how I can relate(my husband speaks Afrikaans - derived from Dutch) the wonderful sound of the infamous "g", especially difficult, I find, at the beginning of a word.
    It's a challenge to combine sounds that are not known in your native tongue, nevermind just trying to grasp a new language altogether.

  12. Oh, excellent! Thanks for posting. I can just imagine how I will speak the rest of the day ... : )

  13. cheeky-
    I have several friends here (South Africans) who speak Afrikaans. I think it's so sing-songy to listen to. Of course, I am jealous of them because making the transition to speaking Dutch is a comparitive snap!

    just keep clearing the phlegm from your throat and you'll be speaking Dutch in no time!

  14. What a wonderful Friday 15! I have a Dutch email pal and will copy these phrases and surprise her with some of them! :)

  15. betty-
    thank you! I love knowing that the Dutch lesson will be put to use!

    Geen Dank!

  16. Shit, I don't even have english down... I ain't about to tackle another language! Although I do like being lingual. ;)

  17. Jenn in Holland....

    Thanks so much for stopping by my lowly blog. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    As for your answers, I can only say "Wow!"

    I only speak English (and not very well at that...)

    Kudos for enlightening folks on the interesting "Dutch Words and Phrases".


  18. Brillig-
    Yes, I understand. I feel your pain.

    Perhaps now you see why I fall back onto my comfortable English?

  19. Interesting. I will try to learn most of these words. Thanks for stopping by!

  20. jennie-
    you're welcome! and welcome here. it's nice to have you drop in.

    join me in the learning! It's quite a process!

  21. Lucky me, I only had to get used to the "zachte 'g'" of Noord Brabant. Still, I enjoyed the practice you offered. I am totally a linguist - learned many languages, and ended up teaching ESL!

  22. I've been diverted here from PhotoHuner because I just love languages! It's a fascinating post because we have neighbours in France who are Dutch and South African, and I speak a little German. It's interesting to see the similarities. Just one thing, and I wonder if it's a typo, achtundachtzig in German is 88, so similar to Achtentachtig ...

  23. You would be truly suprised to hear mne speak Jen. As I am a southern girl we do not have the guttutral 'g' but a soft one. We also tak in a singsong way, kinda like the Welsh people do, just a little different.

  24. and I truly need to get spellcheck installed, or make it a habit to read comments before I post them...darn these typo's

  25. mama & marloes-
    I think most of the time my "g" ends up pretty soft as well. It is such a hard sound to master. (especically since I really don't practice enough!)

    I am so glad you got diverted! Do tell, which languages you speak. As I have established I am so envius of those of you who speak several! Impressive.

  26. you kknow I love this lesson here! Many of the words are the same in german or swiss german.. But seeing that I never look them up or have been to school, I'm not the expert..

    But longsahm - means slow for sure. :) It's been a while...

  27. Great list. I'm amazed at how much some of the Dutch resembles English but all those cognates probably make it harder sometimes.
    I remember lessons in high school French trying to pronounce the "u" sound.

  28. E.T.-
    Yes, I think that's accurate. Linguistically the Dutch language belongs to the same limb on the tree as German. So similarities abound.


    That's precisely the problem with learning Dutch. Seeing the similarity to English words can confuse a girl's brain! We have several words in English that came directly from the Dutch of our American ancestry. Words like cookie, as well as city names like Brooklyn and Harlem all come from Dutch roots of the USA.


  29. Uitstekend, Jenn.
    You helped me polish up a few words before my Dutch in-laws come to visit us here in California.
    Thanks, Helene

  30. helene-
    And for your 'ouders' also, tell them Welkom in California! Thanks for stopping to comment. Best of luck with the Dutch!