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An American's Take on Dutch

The Dutch course has been out for one week (Yay!), and, as all impressions are permanent after one week, I would like to share mine with you...

  • The course: Even native Dutch speakers want to learn Dutch through this course. Lavinae, KaiEngle, Kirlll, Rhynn, and KevinKnauer did an amazing job. No, no, they did goed. Dank je wel, iedereen!

  • The words: I can't get over how Ik houd van woorden van Nederlands. Really, with words like varkensvlees, sinaasappel, en schildpad, you cannot go wrong with Dutch.

  • Tips & Notes: This course is a wanna-be grammar buff's dream. It's only been a week, but there are great explanation posts everywhere, and the Tips & Notes rock, not to mention the helpful native and fluent speakers who lurk around to correct the rest of us. :)

So overall, thanks to Team Dutch for getting this Romance-lover to love a Germanic language (other than English) so much. I can honestly type this with a clear conscience and say that I have never had so much fun learning a language.

And to all the people who still haven't started Dutch:

July 23, 2014



I dunno why, but this post just makes me happy!


Makes you feel like a room without a roof?


Both of y'all are so lame that I can't even. I'm literally the little engine that can't even at you two! If there was a scale from 1 to even, I can't.


I can't even that you can't even that I even wrote that. I can't even believe that you can't even enjoy a song.


I'm so confused......


Americans. I don't think you would understand this. :)


I'm with you on this BritBlue. I have no idea what these Muricans are going on about...


I particularly like Dave from Boyinaband's adaptation of the phrase in the first 25 seconds of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDJ5VvFj1nU :)

Seriously though, it's basically just internet slang from the last 5-10 years... I've feel like I've never not been using the phrase, haha.


I can't even words right now >.<


does happiness feel like the truth?


See above. ;)


People have been saying that Dutch is "German-lite", and though I see what they're trying to get at, Dutch is so not just a "lite" version of German! It's an awesome, totally individual language with a distinctive sound and feel on the page, despite a ton of cognates with German; if you get farther than "ik," "appel," and "melk," you'll see that. Every language should be appreciated for itself, and not as an "easier" version of another language. (Just as Benny Lewis of Fluent in 3 Months says, no one language is Easier -- read: "lite-er" than another!) So, sorry for the rant, just wanted to get that out there. Your awesome post reminded me. :-)


You have to agree though-- Dutch is pretty damn easy and fun.


For English speakers, Dutch is very accessible to get into. By starting with a book that I know well (the Bible, if you want to know), I was able to get enough vocabulary in a single WEEK that I could read the newspaper (sort of). I was astonished, and very excited, and hooked.

While it's easy to get started, the language is spoken by a relatively small number of people. In my experience this brings up a few challenges. For example:

  • Compared to English it has changed relatively rapidly. You are learning a standard Dutch that has evolved only recently. 50 years ago it sounded and looked rather different. And 100 years ago and more, the vocabulary and grammar were so different that you might find it as hard to understand as Afrikaans - or more so! This severely reduces the literature that is accessible for beginners through intermediate readers, and that means that a lot of the public domain books that you find on line will be quite a bit harder for you to read than a modern book

  • Street language, English and immigration are putting powerful pressure on the language, that causes some Dutch people to worry about whether the language can survive. I read an article complaining that American English is becoming so pervasive as the standard of what a modern language sounds like, that some Dutch think that their own language sounds archaic or silly. You might wish that you had Dutch subtitles when you listen to young people or watch some TV shows.

  • There are many little oddities in everyday usage. English has a huge spectrum of acceptable ways to say something. Dutch is not quite so forgiving. It's not because it has more rules than English - you can choke on English rules. The problem is that there is a regular way to say things, that isn't a rule exactly, and if you don't know this pretty well, you will make a whole lot of mistakes trying to say even simple things. You need to know this regular way of saying things REALLY, REALLY WELL to generalize from it in order to craft your own original thoughts, to make Dutch speak for you.


Interesting to read how others view my native tongue. I actually felt the same about English when I learned it, that there are regular ways to say things. You can easily formulate a grammatically correct sentence that sounds very unnatural. It's a rather subtle language that way. But as I learn more I become better at it and now it does feel like English has a huge range of ways you can express things. I think Dutch might actually be very similar in this respect. Perhaps not in the Duolingo course where you stick to the formal grammar, but in colloquial Dutch you'll hear many more variations. One thing I like is that you can mix up the word order in everyday speech quite a bit and that way express different nuances in meaning. :)


English is a crazy language. I'm glad I don't need to learn it as a second.

American English especially. The more I learn about others, the more amazing it is to me that English is so widely adopted. Respect bra!

And I agree, there's a lot of flexibility in Dutch. It's taking me a lot of work to figure out its limits, though.


I'm glad you finally came to your senses and realized that Germanic Languages Rock!


Whatever, Mr. Level-25-in-Italian!


OOooooOOOOooo shot's fired. Pow pow.


I...I...I'm speechless. I'm afraid I can't deny the facts.


It's about time. ;)


Agreed! Definitely, Dutch is a great language to learn.


Don't forget tandvlees, I don't know if it's in the course but it is worth mentioning!


For your enjoyment, I'll throw in a few more words that I think are in the same category as varkensvlees, most of these will most likely not appear in the course...

  • straaljager (fighter plane)
  • lekker (tasty/yummy can also apply to people and a various amount of appealing things, especially lekker weer = nice weather)
  • speerwerper (javelin thrower)
  • hartstikke (very much)
  • hondsbrutaal (very cheeky/bold literally: doglikecheeky)
  • panikeren (to panic)
  • belastingaanslag (sounds fun but it clearly isn't, since it means tax assessment/tax fine literally tax assault)


Many words sound very charming to an English ear. A few that come to mind right away, that make me smile:

Smakelijk, moddervet, kerel, bliksemflits, krioelen, pikdonker, vlindertjes, oliebollen, wenkbrauwen, krabbelen

I guess I could go on for a while. Some sound sweet to me, like wandelen and vlinder; or evocative, like schitterend, vuilnis and misselijk (which saying, literally makes me queezy) . Some sound inherently funny, like the rest of the list.

And really, does any other language have sayings that have quite the charm of Dutch maxims and proverbs, or lend itself more nimbly to the alterations of sobriety and silliness of a cabaretier? It's a lot of fun.


Dat klopt als een zwerende vinger. ;)


hondsbrutaal, my new favorite.


My my, we are having some absolutely DELICIOUS weather today! ^.^


I'm a huge fan of the word "pannekoek", especially when pronounced ala the pubermeisjes van "Toren C"


Has it been a week already? Time flies when your having fun. I'm looking forward to de vierde helft, I suspect this will just get better:)


Dutch is a language with four halves? '-D

I think you would like the facebook page taalvoutjes. They have a lot of fun because learners of Dutch like us.


Didn't you see that question?

I'm not on facebook.


Yes, I did see the question in the lesson. That's why I thought you would enjoy more like that. You don't need to be on facebook to follow the link: it's a public page.

It's also got its webpage at www.taalvoutjes.nl. The facebook page is fun because it has comments that illustrate the infamous Dutch sense of humor.

Radio Nederland Wereldomroep used to have a program called "Klare Taal", that often featured language mistakes. Unfortunately, funding was lost for producing expat programming through public broadcasting.


So far I feel the course has been very well organised, they bring in the previously learnt words into the new lessons so I don't have to go back and relearn them as much.

Well done team Dutch. I'm truly loving this course.


It feels like learning English again, Dutch rocks!


Thanks, AlexisLinguist, for the language squee! That's exactly how I've been feeling, too! Though, I'm nearing the end of my German tree, so I did have a Germanic language thing going already. But...Dutch is just fun. I completely was not expecting to learn Dutch. Now I can't stop. It's addictive!


I am using the course to practice my Dutch :)


I'd like to add alsjeblieft to the list. ;) Ugh can't remember how to italicize words.


To italicize words, just add one asterisk before and after the word. Like this. Two asterisks before and after make the word bold, three asterisks make the word bold & italicized.

A really cool link to formatting codes: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/2591660


ditto! I'm having so much fun with Nederlands, it's quickly becoming one of my favorite languages - thanks Team Dutch, I love the course you guys made :D


That's truly awesome seeing you that excited about Dutch. I have to agree it's a great course and the grammar is so elaborate. Myself, I'm a native Dutch citizen learning French, and I often find myself browsing the French section of about.com for explanations. It's so convenient that for Dutch all this information is right here on Duolingo :) Keep up the good work!


What an awesome language, yeah. Too bad I went abroad some days after... I will continue after the vacation. Am I rightwhen I say that Spanish is the biggest course, in lessons?



I'm sure there's a place to find these numbers for all courses, maybe the incubator? But, going from the trees I've completed, the size of the course is most accurately represented by the number of words (and depth would be the versatility of topics).

Dutch 1935 German 1722 Spanish 1586 Engels 1397

Of these, I'd rate German the toughest course, Engels second, Dutch, then Spanish. That's subjective, I know, but it's not in the order of how well I know each of these.


I believe that is German.


No hay problema. :)


Imagine if you'd learned Dutch after learning German......you'd breeze right through it.


Or get mixed up between the two if you weren't advanced enough in German, like me. There would be no middle ground.


Oh yeah, couldn't tell you how many times I've spelled a Dutch word the German way by mistake.


I'm getting a bit of the breeze right through it bit, and a bit of the trying to spell things the German way. But either way, I'm absolutely hooked!


I can't stop saying varkensvlees and aardbei! I love lekker as well, and UGH so many beautiful words!


I once spent a week in the Netherlands (pupils' exchange) and we all found the word sinaasappelsap very funny.


Hahaha, my orthodontist and his assistants loved that word too. They often asked patients to say it after their braces had been tightened, and hid behind their face masks to catch any spray :P


Hi Everyone!

I am very excited to see that you are all learning Dutch! I am really sorry to bother you with this but I am currently writing my Bachelor thesis and I am still looking for more American respondents to fill out my survey. The survey includes a video of the Dutch online series 'Wander', thus it is a good way to practice your Dutch (they speak english but the information blocks are in Dutch)! This would be the link to the survey: https://erasmusuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0BSvdCJcRpYVptj



I'm English rather than American, can I still participate?


GIsterenavond heb ik hier en daar zitten kijken naar de uitleg achter "het lampje" en ik moet zeggen dat ik onder de indruk ben van wat ik daar allemaal terugvind. Complimenten!

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