For an English speaker, Dutch is significantly easier, since it has less inflection (nouns and pronouns changing form for grammatical purposes) and one fewer gender (Dutch has common and neuter; German has masculine, feminine, and neuter).
A great example would be the word "een," which corresponds to German "ein" (m. and n.) and "eine" (f.). The German words can decline (change according to grammatical role) into numerous forms like "einem", "einer", "eines", while Dutch, like English, has lost this feature, except in pronouns. German adjectives also change in a similar manner, while Dutch does this in a way that is much easier for those of us with a background in more analytic (less inflectional) languages like English.
Een sounds like 'un' and en sounds like 'en' to me. I hope that's right.
(Native speakers please halp.) Can't "een" and "en" be pronounced the same in certain contexts? "Ik heb een hond." and "brood en boter" -- in these unstressed contexts, in natural speech, that is, are they pronounced differently?
Otherwise, "een" is pronounced like the English indefinite article "an", to my understanding, unless it is stressed as "één", where it becomes more like Ayn. A stressed "en" would be like the "en" in Ben, but I was under the impression that in unstressed locations, it would be reduced to a schwa. Please correct me if I am wrong, bedankt.
No, 'een' and 'en' are always pronounced differently. I found this site, while searching for words with matching sounds: http://www.heardutchhere.net/DutchPronunciation.html#voicelessE. The 'ee' in 'een' is pronounced like the E-voiceless (schwa) and 'en' is pronounced like the E-Short. That's always the case. When comparing 'één' with 'en', the 'éé' is pronounced like the E-long and the 'e' is pronounced like the E-short. For me as a native Dutch speaker I can tell the difference between 'één' en 'en', but I can see that the pronunciation of the words are quite similar for others and may be hard to differentiate. I'd suggest having a look at that website. It offers a variety of Dutch words and their pronunciation, which can help you hear the difference better.
They are pronounced differently in isolation for sure, but that is careful speech, which differs from natural, connected speech. If you look at the examples of "en" in various phrases here: http://forvo.com/search/en/nl/ , you can hear the clear schwa -- just what one would expect from vowel-reduction rules in Dutch phonology.
Perhaps these two words are perceived as sounding different because the roles they each play are so drastically distinct as to make confusion between the two almost impossible for someone with knowledge of the language, rendering perceptual disambiguation a very clear and effortless process.
Oh, quite a find! There is indeed a rare second use for "en" with a different pronunciation: When it's part of an expression borrowed from French, Dutch will indeed use the French pronunciation of "en". In such a case it indeed has a schwa.
But now check the link to the word itself: < https://forvo.com/word/en/#nl >.
No, "een" and "en" can not be pronounced the same under certain circumstances; the "en" never gets a schwa. However, after some syllables, the "en" is much lighter, closer to a schwa, than it is otherwise. For example, if the previous syllable had a schwa itself, the "e" in "en" would not be very pronounced. It never gets to Rock 'n Roll, or Stop-n-Go, but it would probably seem more like a schwa than suggested by the spelling.
Not quite right with the spelling of "een". It's pronounced like the last three letters of "lane" when it means "one", rather than "an". But only when "one" and "an" would both fit, "one" gets the accents: "één".
I am Afrikaans, a language originating in Dutch. I would say "een" is pronounced like the name Ian/Iain while "en" is pronounce like the letter N. What might be confusing is that sometimes "een" is shortened to basically just 'n which then sounds much like the english "a". Try listening for the second een sounding like an "a" when you play the recording.
Even in the pronunciation of many standard-language speakers from the Netherlands, initial /v/ is not often distinguished from /f/, though in words like "zeven", it is realised distinctly as [v]. This seems to be considered pretty standard.
Also, one must realise that even in standard language, dialect still often plays a role. A speaker's standard speech is often influenced by the phonology of local dialects, even if the speaker himself does not speak the dialect proper. (Prescriptivism always has its limits in the real world...) There is sometimes more than one way to speak even a standardised language...
With me as a kid when I was learning a little bit of Spanish I had a bit of trouble with this. I found the best exercise was to try to make a car motor sound using your tongue instead of your lips. Just keep your lips slightly open and touch the tongue to the front roof of your mouth then attempt this. It will take some practice but eventually you should be able to do it for about 5 - 10 seconds before needing a breath. You can also say "The Tip of The Tongue Touches The Lips" This will help you get the muscle motion and help strengthen the muscle as every capital letter replicates the motion. That one wont make you able to do it just help you out with the motion and muscle memory.
People keep saying "softer" and I have no idea what that means. to me English "f" seems "softer" and "fluffier" than "v". Are people saying the "v" is said using vibrating vocal chords as in English? Because in the recording it doesn't sound that way to me. Please use non-subjective adjectives!
It depends on the dialect/accent... In certain regions, Frisia and northern areas, I believe, the /v/ and /f/ sounds are merged into the latter. Other areas pronounce a clear [v], like the English sound, pronouncing as a labiodental approximant, where the mouth is in the [v] position while moving as if articulating a [w].
Unfortunately our Aussie accents aren't very refined which makes it difficult to shake. Having said that it is natural for it to come through when you speak Dutch just as it is for a Dutch accent to come through when they speak English.
What helped me though was to focus on saying the rou part of vrouw from the back of your mouth/throat. Most of what we say in English comes from the front of the mouth/tongue. Practice practice practice and you'll be right ;)