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7 tenacious myths about the Dutch language

Why do many foreigners living in the Netherlands and Belgium shy away from learning Dutch? Is it because they think it is too difficult? Ruud Hisgen suggests that there are seven myths which may have something to do with the reason why so many expats are disheartened.


1. Dutch is difficult! As complex as German and as obscure as Old English

Dutch and German (Deutsch) may have similarly sounding names but they are two completely different languages. In the Middle Ages the languages of the Netherlanders and the Germans were called diets because diet meant “people”. Diets was used to distinguish the lowly language of the common folk from the highfalutin Latin of the Church.

Over time, Diets became Nederlands and in Germany, Deutsch, but the English have stubbornly retained the confusing word “Dutch” to this day. Old English has shed its grammatical intricacies and so has Diets. German still has cases and more intricacies. So forget about Dutch as a difficult obstacle and think of Nederlands as the sister of English, a language that you can easily acquire.

2. Nederlands is an insignificant language in the greater scheme of things

There are 23 million native speakers of the language in the Netherlands, the Flemish region of Belgium, Surinam, and several islands in the Caribbean. And some 15 to 23 million people in South Africa and Namibia speak its daughter language: Afrikaans.

You may think you can safely converse with your neighbours or relations in English, but never forget that the Netherlanders have the advantage because they can speak their own language among themselves. And you will have no idea what sneaky things they may be saying!

3. Dutch vocabulary does not compare to other world languages

Read the rest of the article on I am Expat!

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