in learning the Dutch language…

The Dutch letter IJ and other fun language stuff

The Dutch alphabet (equally for the Netherlands and Belgium; there is only one standard language and one alphabet) has 26 letters. The last three letters are x, y, z. In many Dutch primary schools they are taught it as x, ij;  the y —when spelling— is called “Griekse y” (= “Greek y”), but pronounced “Griekse ei”, or just “ij”. Also “i-grec”, which is a French loan. This may be because the example IJsbeer (polar bear) is easy to understand for six-year-olds, but words that start with a Y are invariably difficult and learned naturally.

So, not  only do I have to contend with additional (IJ) and sometimes-nonexistent letters (y), I have to roll my Rs, make hairball noises with Gs and CHs, differentiate between gender and neutral nouns and take a deep breath before pronouncing the endless string of  single words, like arbeidsongeschiktheidsverzekering (unemployment insurance). And how about nine consonants in a row: slechtstschrijvend (worst writing)?!

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About soulglue

Canadian living in the Netherlands. View all posts by soulglue

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