Here are some short lessons in Dutch by Theodore Westerhof, dutch speaker and frequenter of the Friesian YahooGroup where these lessons were originally posted.


Lesson 1: The most important words of all

Paard = Horse
Hengst = Stallion
Merrie = Mare
Veulen = Foal
Hengstveulen = Colt
Merrieveulen = Filly

We see that Dutch can form new words by combining existing ones, just like German.

[A guide to pronunciation & spelling]

 


Lesson 2: The word

 

From the point of view an anglophone it is, the parts in which Dutch is more like English than German will not be noticed that much.
Dutch had originally the meaning of “Continental Germanic language”, the meaning of the word in English shifted to the language of the Netherlands and the word German was thought up to describe the rest, even though neither of the languages is any more German or Dutch in the old sense than the other. The word became Deutsch in German to indicate the rest, well in the Netherlands it became Diets to indicate the Native language while it became Duits to indicate the other. In Dutch BOTH words are still associated with the philosophy of a certain madman who was that insane that his followers greeted eachother with the command to heal him. As a result of that “Dutch” is not liked much in the Netherlands (Netherlandish might be more difficult in use, but NOBODY can say that is not more politically correct, good thing that the Dutchies tend to have a rather broad mind).


Lesson 3: gender and sex

The theory is simple, some words are male, some words are female and some words are neither. Just like English with he she and it, only it shows more in Dutch.

There are some rules worth remembering:

1. Diminutives are always neutral.
2. Infinitives are always neutral.
3. Except for the definite article and dependent words in front of the word SEX beats GENDER (not always, but it is severely outclassed). Unlike German.

In Dutch this would be: HAAR haar. There are no other hard rules.

Personal pronouns: Hij Zij Het = He She It.
Definte articles: De (for male and female) and Het (for neuter).
Possesive pronouns: Zijn (for male and neuter) and Haar (for female).

An example,

Het merrieveulen drinkt haar melk.

The filly drinks her milk.

The stuff is a bit complicated, some words are neuters:

Het Paard – The horse
Het Zadel – The saddle
Het Veulen – The foal

Other words are females:

De Merrie – The Mare
De Amazone – The Amazon/the female rider
De Koe – The Cow

Other words are males:

De Henst – The Stallion
De Ruin – The Gelding
De Ruiter – The Rider (even though here we encounter often SbG rule here!)

Other words are less obvious:

De Politie – The police (female)
De Stal – The Stable (male)
De Melk – The milk (female)

(if you know use the right one, if not pretend that everything is male, unless it is neuter or female).


Lesson 4: St. Nicholas Poem

An important part of the St. Nicholas celebration in the Netherlands is the St. Nicolas poem, though too early in the course to handle this in detail, it can be used to show something to accompany a small box containing two pens (writing implements, not the holding kind). It rhymes with pairs of perfect homophones (the lesson: Dutch has many words , and is basically about St. Nicholas talking to his horse at the very end of his stay in the Netherlands, in the poem some of the words are part of composites. See, if you can get what happens, Not really easy.

Sinterklaas zat hoog op z’n trouwe paard in de kou,
alleen op het dak, behalve twee duiven en een kauw
en sprak: “Naar huis, naar Spanje, gaan wij,
dan slaap ik in m’n hemel en jij in je wei.””

“Maar waar Zwarte Piet? Waar is hij?
Moest hij nog naar een ver hutje op de hei?
Dan hoop ik dat hij het aangename aan het onvermijdlijke paart,
Wat denk jij, m’n beste Amerigo, m’n ros, mijn paard?”

“Kijk daar vliegt, al is het laat, nog een wouw
wist ik maar waar Piet nog heen wou.
Het was wel weer heel erg warm dit maal,
nijlpaarden zwommen buiten, hadden vers gras tot maal.”

“Ja, jij had graag ook nog van het jonge decembergras genoten,
maar je had het te druk, net als je twee echte reisgenoten.
Van Middelburg tot Amsterdam tot Maastricht tot Delzijl tot Leiden,
je conditie heeft altijd zo van zo’n reis te lijden.”

“We hadden het druk, daar was een meisje dat zo loog,
en die ambachtsman die vroeg om een vat met loog,
zo veel kinderstemmen zongen weer een oud schoon lied,
zoveel kinderogen keken vol verwachting wat ik bij hen achter-liet”

“Daar wachten wij, wist ik maar wat Piet nu deed
Ik ben niet zo modern meer, in 1850 was ik nog Up-to-Date
Cutting edge technology toen, maar die tijd is niet meer
en de Zuiderzee heet nu IJsselmeer”

“Ach ik weet nog van lang, lang daarvoor,
toen trok de boer met z’n paard de voor,
de tijd van keizer, heer en gouw,
ach vergeten we die vervlogen eeuwen maar even, gauw”

“Dat gedoe met die Canadese Pieten en die idote regenboog,
terwijl ik nog nooit voor politiek, zon of regen boog.
Voor domino noch dominee, voor koning noch regent, voor soldaat noch…
Ha daar, hij rent, maar toch zwarte Piet komt nog”

“Piet, waarom was je zo laat nog op de weg?
Er moest zeker nog een laatste pakje weg?”
“Ja sint, gewoon een leuk doosje pennen,
nu kan Betje wat ze maar wil neerpennen”


Lesson 5: Why IJ?

Dutch uses quite some double vowels.

Paar = pair
Peer = pear
Poort = portal, gate
Puur = pure

“ii” is not used, for the sound we would use for that “ie” is used

Pier=
1. Worm (of sorts)
2. Pier (like http://www.brightonpier.co.uk/indexflash.htm)

To avoid confusion with other letters in handwriting the second “I” was written as a”J” and the combination of vowel and consonant pronounced as a vowel, became in Dutch to be considered as a letter in its own right. The “Y” on the other hand was used exclusively for “foreign words”, like Yak, Psychologie, Yoghurt, (Quite unlike Frisian, it may be said! “Frysk hynder” says enough). The new letter created got the same sound as the “ei” combination, just like the German “ei” and took more or less the position of the Y in the alphabet in the learning of the same.

That may cause problems with the alphabetical order, but I-J is most common, but far from universal. NOTE: If you have to look somebody with “ij” in the name up in a Dutch phonebook, go for the “ij” is “y” option. In initials the IJ is usually considered as one letter, and always in case of capitalisation. That is why the IJ (water near Amsterdam). Less common genuine “I” followed by “J” combinations as in “”bijoux” are just that, but give rise to further confusion.