As most of you know, I am currently learning Dutch. I am self teaching myself at the moment after being inspired by Irish polyglot, Benny Lewis, who is living proof that you can learn any language in any environment if you just put your mind to it. If you are currently learning a language (or would like to), I recommend checking out his website, YouTube and book for some extremely helpful tips and tricks to successful language learning. But this post isn’t about Benny, it’s about me! More specifically, why I adore the Dutch language. So other than stating the obvious, here are a couple of reasons why I am learning Dutch (and loving it!)
1) It’s a language that just makes sense. Dutch is concise and to the point. New words are made by joining smaller words together. A couple of weeks ago I went to the Amsterdam Museum. I read the english descriptions for each exhibit, but occasionally came across a word and wondered what it’s Dutch equivalent was. That day I learnt the translation for octopus in Dutch is inkvis. Literally translated as ink fish. Another day, I learned that hoofdstad meant capital. Hoofd = Head. Stad = City. Head city = Capital. It. Just. Makes. Sense! All languages should be this clear and simple!
2) Spraakkunst*. English meaning: Grammar. Literal translation – SPEECH ART! I couldn’t agree more 🙂
3) I like the sound of it. Dutch reminds me a little bit of Irish when it’s spoken. It has a distinct melody, a bit of a lilt that resonates with me. I listen to a lot of Dutch radio, and even though I don’t understand the majority of what the presenters are saying, it is as if they are Irish speaking nonsensically!
4) It’s not a common language that many people choose to learn. In Ireland, French, German and Spanish are the main languages taught in the majority of secondary schools. Even at university level, I have yet to come across someone who has chosen to study Dutch as a language to degree level. I was told by an uncle of mine that I should forget Dutch and learn German instead. Sure, German may be more useful to me in the EU, but I like it. I’ve been exposed to it; I’ve been immersed in the culture. Plus, it’s fun!
5) It’s not German. But it is related so it will help me when the time comes to learn it! It may be my biased love of the Netherlands blinding me, or hanging around with Dutch friends who like to tell anti-German jokes a lot, but I like Dutch more 😛 (This is not me hating on Germans, I have some lovely German friends – and German is one of my next languages to learn!!)
6) Lekker! This is one of my favourite words (as well as gezellig of course). It is directly related to food and can be translated as yummy or tasty. So naturally you may tell your waitress your meal was lekker. But that boy/girl you like may also be lekker. The weather can be lekker (or niet zo lekker as the case often is!), and at night time, you tell someone to slaap lekker! I don’t know about you, but sleeping deliciously sounds good to me!
7) The lack of rules! In French there are rules to know if words as masculine or feminine and sentences follow certain general structures. In Dutch, there are guidelines to know if a word takes a gender or is neuter, and even if you follow them to a tee you still may not be correct. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve asked a native speaker why a sentence is structured in a certain way. The answer is always there is no reason, it just is! I’ve come to understand and strangely appreciate this confusing language. Frustrating sometimes, but it keeps you on your toes always.
8) It’s a challenge. And I like my challenges. Now that I’m not longer studying, I need something semi-academic to keep my brain ticking over. Today I decided to formalise my learning slightly and create a reference folder, largely inspired by Maria, who is probably the only person who understands my love of the language and all things Dutch right now!! I was a little disorganised in my language learning so far. My brain seems to like remembering foreign words and working out grammatical rules… so far! Having physical backup is always a good idea!
Are you currently learning a language? If not, have you ever considered learning Dutch? 😉
*This word actually inspired me to write this post today! Who else is a spraakkunst nerd?!!