If it does not sound Dutch, do not worry!

10 February 2011, by

For many people that want to learn Dutch, pronunciation seems to be a real nightmare! How on earth could you pronounce "alien" sounds such as g, ui & eu?

The "g" sound

Dutch people seem to be proud of the "g" sound. Somehow, it gives them a feeling of cultural superiority; they can pronounce the word Scheveningen, while others (for instance the Germans) cannot.

So, what can you do?

You could avoid words that have a "g," but then again, once you realise that many important words start with a "g" such as geld (money), gratis, gezellig and geluk (luck), it might not be such a good idea. So yes... you do need that "g" that can sound so awful that may give you a sour throat!

The "ch" combination

On top of that, there is another combination that sounds like "g," which is "ch." Words like nacht (night), lachen (to laugh) and prachtig (splendid) are also words that you will use on a regular basis.

Moreover, some people feel very sorry for themselves if their own address contains many difficult sounds, such as Reguliersgracht achtentachtig twee hoog (88, second floor). Yes, these sounds may drive you absolutely crazy. And all those Dutch people asking you: wat zeg je? (what do you say?). Then it really feels like a good idea to run away to a safe place.

And sure... if needed, you could move to the southern part of the country or go to Belgium. In these areas the "g" sound is a lot softer!

Just relax

Luckily, there is good news. It is really simple and therefore, it may be difficult to do. The best strategy is that you do not worry about it. Just relax and focus on easier things :) 

For sure, improving your Dutch pronunciation should be one of your objectives. However, even if there are letters or words that you cannot pronounce yet, make sure that you do not get obsessed about it and get stuck. Instead, focus on plenty of other things that you can learn with more ease.

Focussing on things that you find easy to learn, will work like magic. It will instantly give you more confidence and then, after some time, you may notice that all of a sudden your pronunciation got much better. So, once again, do not worry if your "g" does not sound like a Dutch "g" yet! Great Dutch is still available to you!

Scheveningen pier hague
Is the beach of Scheveningen a place you can never reach because you cannot pronounce it?
Should you go to Zandvoort instead?

Albert Both is an Expat Service Provider. Download his e-book "Why You Hate Learning Dutch and 7 Secrets to Change It," join his workshop "Finding Dutch Flow" or simply comment below for inquiries and / or remarks. All free of charge!

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Comments arranged by date (Total 6 comments)  
February 10 2011, 12:00PM

After your suggestion (http://www.iamexpat.nl/read-and-discuss/expat-page/news/google-translate-iphone-app), i feel lucky that i can pronounce "Scheveningen" well !!!

February 10 2011, 12:01PM

Of course it couldn't be better to let a professional, do his best on that!

February 10 2011, 12:47PM

Even I have a little difficulties in pronunciation I don't hate Dutch, I love it!

February 11 2011, 10:24AM

I do agree with this article in that perseverance is key. However I often find myself repeating a Dutch word to a puzzled looking native only to have them suddenly understand what word I was trying to say and then say it back to me almost exactly as I thought I was saying it! Thankfully being Scottish I already have the "ch" sound down to a fine art!

February 11 2011, 01:15PM

Just wondering, can you easily learn Dutch if you do not have a TV?
Is socializing with locals enough?

March 27 2012, 01:25PM

My opinion is only learn dutch if you got children or a dutch boyfriend/ husband or if you want to stay in Holland until you die! If you are planning to stay here up to 10 years then it's not worth it.

About the Author
Albert Both

I help with an approach of learning Dutch that is completely different from any other language cours...



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