Dutch - interesting facts


The Dutch language, known natively as Nederlands, is the mother tongue of 23 million people worldwide, ranking it 56th in the number of native speakers globally.

Dutch is the official language in the Netherlands, the Flemish region and Brussels in Belgium, and in Suriname. It also holds official status in Dutch Caribbean territories including Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten.

Belonging to the Germanic group of languages, Dutch has been significantly influenced by the Frankish, Frisian, and Saxon tribes. The oldest surviving document in Old Dutch is the baptismal vow text (Utrechtse doopgelofte). Modern written Dutch shares certain similarities with German and, to a lesser extent, English. However, in terms of phonetics, Dutch differs from these languages.

There are three principal variations of Dutch: Northern Dutch (Noord-Nederlands), Belgian Dutch (Belgisch-Nederlands), and Surinamese Dutch (Surinaams-Nederlands). The Dutch language dictionary recognises over 500 words unique to the Surinamese variation. Furthermore, the Afrikaans language, spoken by a segment of South Africa and Namibia population, evolved from 17th-century Dutch dialects.

The norms concerning the Dutch language have been regulated since 1980 by the Union for the Dutch Language, headquartered in The Hague.

Dutch is one of the official languages of the EU. It is recognised by two international organisations: the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), and the Union of South American Nations.

In common understanding, "Dutch" and "Nederlands" are used interchangeably. However, it should be noted that the official name is Nederlands. In the Netherlands, it is referred to as Dutch, while in Belgium, it is called Flemish.

A characteristic feature of Dutch is the occurrence of challenging consonant clusters. A word that demonstrates this is "schlechtstchrijvend", which translates as "the worst writer". Undoubtedly, another difficult word is the longest term in Dutch - the 53-letter noun "kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamhedenplan", meaning "the action plan for preparing a children's carnival parade"!


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Similarities to English and German

Dutch is often considered an intermediate form between English and German. It was derived from the Germanic language and belongs to the same language family as English and German. Thanks to this, Poles who know English or German can notice many similarities in grammar, vocabulary and structure. For example, there is a case of complement in Dutch, as in German, and many Dutch words have a similar sound to their counterparts in English and German.

The impact of Dutch on English

Dutch and English, both Germanic languages, have significantly influenced each other, particularly through trade, conquest, and migration. As such, the Dutch language has left an indelible impact on English, especially in terms of vocabulary.

One of the most prominent areas of Dutch influence is in naval and seafaring terms, reflecting the Dutch Republic's maritime prowess during the 17th century. English words like "skipper," "yacht," "deck," and "cruise" are all borrowed from Dutch. Similarly, the Dutch East India Company's ventures in the spice trade led to the English adoption of words like "brandy" and "gin."

The Dutch influence is also evident in English place names, particularly in New York, originally named New Amsterdam when it was a Dutch colony. Brooklyn, Harlem, and The Bronx are examples of areas in New York with Dutch-origin names.

Moreover, everyday words in English such as "cookie," "waffle," and "boss" demonstrate the pervasive influence of Dutch on the English language.

Dutch – the official language of several countries

Dutch is not only spoken in the Netherlands but is also one of the three official languages in Belgium, where it is called Flemish, as well as the official language in Suriname, the islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Thanks to this, knowledge of the Dutch language can be useful for people travelling in these countries.

The complexity of Dutch phonetics

For Poles, complex phonetics is one of the biggest challenges in learning Dutch. The Dutch pronunciation contains many sounds unknown in Polish, such as hard "g", soft "r" or double marks "ij" and "ui". However, with time and practice, most learners can master these difficult sounds.

Division into dialects

The Dutch language has a wealth of dialects that differ in vocabulary and pronunciation. Some of them are Brahmin, Limburg or Holstein. This can be a curiosity, especially if they want to explore different regions of the Netherlands and Belgium, where locals often use local language varieties.

Dutch in culture

The Dutch language has a rich literary tradition, with classic writers like Multatuli, Hugo Claus and Harry Mulisch. For Poles interested in literature, learning Dutch can open up new reading horizons and enable them to learn about the works of these authors in the original. In addition, contemporary Dutch music has much to offer, with artists representing genres such as pop, rock, hip-hop or electronic music. Listening to Dutch songs can be a great way to learn the language and know the country's culture.


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Your Essential Dutch




yes ja (jɑ)
no nee (ne)
please alstublieft (ɑlstʋbli:ft)
thank you dank u (dɑŋk y)
I'm sorry sorry (sɔri)
good morning goedemorgen (ɣudəmɔrɣən)
good evening goedeavond (ɣudəa:vɔnt)
goodbye goedenacht (ɣudənɑxt)
good night tot ziens (tɔt zins)
hi hallo (hɑlo)
how are you?  Hoe gaat het? (hu ɣa:t hət?)
well Dank u wel, goed (dɑŋk y wɛl, ɣud)
My name is... Mijn naam is... (mɛyn na:m ɪs...)
I don't understand Ik begrijp het niet (ɪk bəɣrɛyp hət ni:t)



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