Dutch language

Although many Dutch people speak English very well, you may want to learn some Dutch as a part of your Study in Holland experience.

Being able to understand and speak Dutch makes everyday activities, such as grocery shopping, going to a restaurant or following the news a little easier and more fun. Also, being able to talk Dutch will make it easier to get in touch with other Dutch students and make some Dutch friends.

Even if you start your career in an international company elsewhere, having foreign language skills is always a benefit.

About the language

Dutch is a West Germanic language, strongly related to German and with many resemblances to English. It is spoken by more than 22 million people around the globe.

Dutch is an official language in the Netherlands, Belgium, Surinam, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. In addition, it is very closely related to Afrikaans (spoken in South Africa) and in Indonesia some of the older inhabitants still speak Dutch. 

Loan words

Without even realising it, you may already know some words in the Dutch dictionary. There are some 17,560 Dutch words that other languages have borrowed.

Research has indicated that the words bak (bin), pen (pen), pomp (pump), kraan (crane/tap), and gas (gas), are among the words most borrowed by other languages. The Dutch word baas (boss), can be traced back in 57 languages spread over all continents and is therefore the most widely adopted Dutch word (source: Dutch News).

Pronunciation and vocabulary

It may take you a while to get the pronunciation of ‘sch’, the rolling ‘r’, ‘ui’ and ‘eu’, and the guttural ‘g’, but the practice will be fun!

If you learn Dutch, be prepared to work on your vocabulary as the Dutch have published the biggest dictionary in the world. The making of the dictionary, which includes Dutch words from the period between 1500 and 1976, took almost 150 years. Some 1.7 million citations and about 50 million words are used to illustrate the meanings of these words. These are all world records.

More information

Find out where you can learn Dutch on our page on courses or take the challenge and start learning a few words!

For more information on the Dutch language, visit the following websites:

last modified Jan 22, 2013 10:07 PM
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