Producers and corporates planning to target audiences speaking the Dutch language need detailed information about the historical context of the language, dialects, and accents that can have an impact on the quality of the final product. As language specialists, GoLocalise likes to make the strategic process of audiovisual content localization more accessible.
This blog post has been designed to provide readers with in-depth knowledge about the Dutch language and the factors that may affect your localization project.
Where is Dutch the Official Language
The Dutch language is spoken not just in the Netherlands but also in Flanders, where it is the official language. The language is also spoken in the northern provinces of Belgium.
In what countries is Dutch the official language? Here’s a list of the countries where it is the official language as well as where it is widely spoken, even if it isn’t an official language.
Dutch is a West Germanic language and is spoken by close to 23 million as a first language and five million people as a second language. In the Netherlands, it is an official language along with Frisian.
Dutch is an official language along with French in Belgium. It is also an official language in Brussels and Flanders. The biggest differences between the Dutch spoken in these different areas are the phonetics, the expressions, and the informal Dutch.
Dutch is the official language of the education, media, business, and government even today in Suriname. The language first came to the country in the 17th century when Paramaribo became a colony. 60% of the population of the country speaks Dutch as a native language.
Like Suriname, the countries of Sint Maarten, Curacao, and Aruba, known as the Netherlands Antilles, have a colonial history. Along with English, Dutch is the official language in these countries.
The Dutch language spoken by the settlers that came to South Africa evolved to become Afrikaans. 90% to 95% of the Afrikaans vocabulary is estimated to be of Dutch origin. The key differences between these two languages are that Afrikaans has simpler language and no grammatical gender.
In the 19th century, a large group of Dutch-speaking people moved to Canada as early settlers. The language was passed on to the next generations. Today, there are still a lot of Dutch speakers in the country.
The United States
4.5 million people in the United States are of Dutch descent. A large number of these people still speak the language even today. In fact, Martin van Buren was the only president in the country whose first language was Dutch, not English.
The Dutch Language can be found even in Indonesia. The Dutch United East India Company arrived in Indonesia in the 16th century. The country became a colony, and Dutch became the official language. Even today, many older people still speak the language.
Difference Between Dutch, German, and English
The Dutch language is often called a bridge language between English and German. Dutch is much like German in some ways and English in other ways. Dutch is similar to German because it is a “verb second” language like German. It is also one of the closest languages to English while being in the same family as German.
Some key differences between the Dutch Language and German are that in German, G is guttural, while in Dutch, it is pronounced as “ch.” The spelling rules between the two languages are also quite different. In Dutch, a word must never end with two of the same letter. For example, wil (want) cannot be written as “will.”
Interesting Facts about the Dutch Language
Dutch is close to English, but there are a lot of interesting things about the language, such as their use of Hebrew slang, untranslatable words, and more. Here are some mind-blowing facts about this language.
Dutch and English are Close but Not That Similar
There’s a lot of shared vocabulary between English and Dutch such as peer (pear), and appel (apple). Linguistically, these two languages are close, but West Frisian is actually closer to English. If you visit Friesland, you’ll be surprised that you can understand a lot of what the locals are saying.
Dunglish is Funny
Dunglish is the combination of Dutch and English, often known as coal English or steenkolenengels. It results in some pretty funny sentences such as “Just go up the trap (stairs)” and “That is the dog from Anneke (instead of Anneke’s dog).”
It’s shocking, but a lot of slang in Dutch comes from Hebrew words. Most of the Dutch Jews lived in Amsterdam during the 1940s, so a lot of the slang used in the language even today has Yiddish origins, such as blauw, jofel, and gabber.
The Dutch language has some pretty rare sounds when compared to the other languages in the world. Some of these can sound funny to outsiders who aren’t familiar with the language.
The soft “g” (ch) and hard “g” (written as g) are examples. Their pronunciation can be heard in words like Groen, Zacht, and Acht (listen to this pronunciation in this voice-over example).
Did you know that the Dutch language has a lot of words that cannot be translated? Words like Hoor, Gezellig, and Lekker are examples.
Hoor, for example, can be just dropped at the end of most sentences. What does it mean, though? It’s easier to simply try to understand the context in which they are used. For example, the evening is gezellig, and the weather is lekker.
Dutch Words are Incredibly Long
The Dutch love using something called compounding, making their words surprisingly long. Compounding is where two or more words are combined to make a new word. In English, each word is spaced out, but in Dutch, the words are just bunched up.
The longest word in the Dutch language has 50 letters! aansprakelijkheidswaardevaststellingsveranderingen (liability valuation changes).
GoLocalise has a vast network of professional voice actors and translators and a state-of-the-art recording studio. With our resources and experience, localizing, translating, and voice-over of audiovisual materials for Dutch-speaking audiences is easy and effortless.
Our in-house project managers can handle the entire project for you, from start to finish, while ensuring top-notch quality and cost-effectiveness.