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Listen to Dutch - Diphthongs: Vowels Explained 2 - Vocabulary - Numbers 0-10 - 'Dutch'

Numbers 0-10
Dutch, German and Germanic

Just listen to the sounds of Dutch - don't worry about a thing - much will be explained in the course of the lessons.

Piet Hein
Piet Hein, Piet Hein, Piet Hein, Piet Hein, [a name]
Piet Hein zijn naam is klein, Piet Hein his name is short
Zijn daden benne groot, His actions ['deeds'] are big
('benne' is a slang version of 'to be' - note the similarity to English)
Zijn daden benne groot, What he did was great
Hij heeft gewonnen de Zilvervloot. He has captured ['won'] the Silver Fleet
Hij heeft gewonnen, gewonnen de Zilvervloot, He has captured, captured the Silver Fleet
Hij heeft gewonnen de Zilvervloot. He has captured the Silver Fleet
click to hear

Piet Hein was a Dutch pirate who in 1628 captured the yearly Spanish 'Silver Fleet' from America. Holland was at war with Spain at the time. The stockholders of his company received 50 to 75% dividend on their investment that year. The song is from a poem made at the time that was set to music in the 19th Century. It's still a popular children's song.

Diphthongs - 'Vowels' (2)

(de) tweeklank click to hear diphthong - tweeklanken click to hear diphthongs
The pronunciation examples are not meant as vocabulary to be learned
AU = OU click to hear like OU in English LOUD, OW in Englsih NOW - hear Dutch nou click to hear ('now')
au! pauw dauw click to hear
(ouch! - peacock - dew)
lauw miauw flauw click to hear
(tepid - meow - bland)
bouw sjouwer oud louter click to hear
(the building process - a worker carrying things on a building site - old - pure)
koud mouw stouwen click to hear
(cold - sleeve - to pack, cram)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2AU  -  2OU  -  3
EI = IJ click to hear There is no sound like Dutch EI/IJ in English, but I've been told the sound is "somewhere between English FATE and FIGHT" - hear Dutch feit click to hear ('fact')
A sound very much like Dutch EI/IJ is found in French, in a word like soleil click to hear 2 ('sun') and in the Mediterranean French city of Marseille click to hear
ei hei steil click to hear
(egg - moor, heather - steep)
IJ hij stijl click to hear
(water body in Amsterdam - he - style)
ei meid leiden verspreiden veelheid click to hear
(egg - girl - to lead - to spread, distribute - multitude, abundance)
hij lijden bijl deeltijd click to hear
(he - to suffer - axe - part-time)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2EI  -  2IJ  -  3
EU click to hear There's no sound like Dutch EU in English, but I've been told it could approximately be like ER in Engl. HER, try to leave out R - hear Dutch heur click to hear ('her' - slang)
German has a sound like Dutch EU in some words with Ö or OE like the logician Gödel click to hear - schön click to hear 2 3 ('beautiful') or Goethe click to hear and you may have heard of the Swedish city of Göteborg click to hear
French has a sound like Dutch EU in a word like deux click to hear ('2')
deur leuk peul click to hear
(door - entertaining - (bean)pod)
neus beul deuk heulen click to hear
(nose - executioner - dent - to collaborate)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2  -  3
OE click to hear like OO in English BOOK - hear Dutch boek click to hear ('book')
doe stoep poel koek click to hear
(do! - sidewalk - pool (liquid) - ~cake)
hoe hoed roek boeten click to hear
(how - hat - a bird - to pay the penalty, do penance)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2  -  3
UI click to hear There is no sound like Dutch UI in English, but I've been told it's vaguely somewhat like IR in (New England) BIRD (no offense meant) - hear Dutch buit click to hear ('loot')
French has a sound like Dutch UI in a word like l'oeil click to hear ('the eye')
huis pui ruit tuin click to hear
(house - ~small extension of a room - windowpane - yard, garden)
buit huilen luider Duitser click to hear
(loot - to cry tears - louder - German)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2  -  3
Find many more examples of these sounds on the Dutch Pronunciation Reference page
Hear all the different Dutch vowels and diphthongs next to each other: Vowel and Diphthong Sounds Compared

Recap of the diphthongs:

AU = OU click to hear
EI = IJ click to hear
EU click to hear
OE click to hear
UI click to hear

There are no sounds like Dutch EI/IJ, EU and UI in English.
English-speakers tend to say Dutch EI/IJ like IE in NECKTIES, for a beginner that's OK, but try to teach yourself the Dutch sound.
A few words in Dutch have something close to that English 'I' sound in NECKTIES, for instance in maïs click to hear ('corn, maize.')
Compare Dutch EI/IJ with Dutch EE and AI:
Trees Thijs Thais click to hear 2
(girls' name - boys' name - Thai)
pees spijs pais click to hear 2
(tendon - almond paste - 'peace')
Compare with Dutch long AAI:
hij haai hei click to hear
(he - shark - moor, heather)
mij maai mei click to hear
(me - (I) mow - May)

In Dutch, 'ij' is seen as one letter and (when appropriate) capitalized together: 't IJ click to hear 2 3 - IJmuiden click to hear 2 - de IJssel click to hear - het IJsselmeer click to hear
To Dutch people it looks very silly when foreign publications print only the i in uppercase, like [wrong!] "... the Ij near Amsterdam ..." [wrong!]
The IJ is often seen as the 25th letter of the Dutch alphabet; the Y is called by its French name: i-Grèc click to hear 2 (but not in the alphabet)
Hear the Dutchman say his alphabet: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z click to hear
To differentiate in spoken Dutch, 'ei' is called korte ei click to hear 2 ('short ei') and 'ij' is called lange ij click to hear 2 ('long ij')
Do note how groot click to hear ('large, big, tall, great') and groet click to hear ('greeting') are said in Dutch: the pronuciation of OO and OE is switched in English.

More Diphthong Examples

au! click to hear
ei click to hear
[purse with coins and bills]
beurs click to hear (old-fashioned word)
ui click to hear
boek click to hear
The AI in Dutch 'Braille' click to hear is how English I in 'I' or IE in 'Necktie' sounds to me; it's different from Dutch EI/IJ.

Psychology of Hearing

It is said that small children should hear foreign languages to become familiar with a wide range of human sounds. At a later age it will be much more difficult to recognize sounds you didn't grow up with. It may even be that you simply cannot hear sounds from foreign languages that you're not familiar with, that you're not able to distinguish them correctly. When you hear a foreign sound, a sound that's new to you, it's hard to place because there is no 'frame of reference.' Maybe you will assume it's just a variation of a sound you're familiar with.
A few students have told me that when I read a line of words with a vowel sound they're not familiar with, they sometimes hear a variety of sounds for that vowel. Of course people don't pronounce letters exactly the same every time, but usually it is within an acceptable range, and how I say it is all standard Dutch. Surrounding letters may also influence pronunciation. It's for instance said that vowels are longer before an R ->>
What for me are just small, acceptable variations may seem to be rather large differences to you. It could also be that when you hear a sound you don't know, you try to relate it to a more familiar word and then start hearing something like the vowel of that more familiar word.

The Dutch sounds not found in English
Native speakers of other languages may have problems with other sounds. French for instance shares several of the unusual sounds of Dutch, but doesn't have the Dutch 'short I' click to hear

CH = G click to hear lichtgewicht click to hear 2 ('lightweight')
- geen groter genoegen click to hear ('no greater pleasure')
- "achtentachtig prachtige grachten" click to hear 2 ('88 wonderful canals')
EI = IJ click to hear vrijheid blijheid click to hear 2 ('freedom [brings along] happiness')
- bij tijd en wijle click to hear ('once in a while')
- zij zijn rijk click to hear 2 ('they are rich')
EU click to hear in geuren en kleuren click to hear 2 (['in smells and colors'] - a vivid description)
- tegen heug en meug click to hear ('under protest, not what you wanted to do')
UI click to hear huilbui click to hear ('crying fit') - kruipruimte click to hear ('crawlspace')
- buitenshuis click to hear 2 ('outside of the house, outdoors')
- bruidssuiker click to hear (['bridal sugar'] - wedding candy)
UU click to hear
(long U)
buurman click to hear 2 ('neighbor - adult, male') - buurmeisje click to hear ('neighbor girl')
- buren click to hear 2 ('neighbors' ‑>>) - muziek click to hear 2 ('music' ‑>>)

More words with fascinating sounds:
scheurbuik click to hear ([ripping belly] - 'scurvy')
- wijsneus click to hear 2 ([wisdom-nose] - 'annoying know-it-all') - huidskleur click to hear 2 ('skin color')
- rijtuig click to hear ('horse-drawn carriage') - huurhuis click to hear ('rented house')
- schuurdeur click to hear ('barn door') - huisvlijt click to hear 2 3 ('domestic, cottage industry')
- Beursplein click to hear 2 (the square of the Amsterdam stock exchange)
- buikpijn click to hear 2 ('stomachache') - kruisvuur click to hear 2 ('crossfire')
- tijdsduur click to hear 2 ('duration,' amount of time) - vuurpijl click to hear ([fire-arrow] - 'flare')

Hearing Illusions
When the ear hears a word with a sound it's not familiar with, the brain searches for a common word that sounds similar, and tells you that's what you heard. To native speakers of English, when I say 'spijt' click to hear ('remorse') or 'vlijt' click to hear ('diligence') you may hear 'spite' and 'flight' - but when I say trein click to hear 2 ('train') or plein click to hear 2 ('square' - village, city) you may hear 'train' or 'plane/plain' because those are the common words in English most similar. But my EI's and IJ's are all the same. When I say Leiden click to hear ('Leyden,' a city in Holland) you may even think I said something like 'leading.' Yet to me and other Dutch people these EI/IJ's all sound the same. Maybe it's like when you're tricked by optical illusions, where things are not what they seem to be. But when I say heiden click to hear ('heathen') what do you hear? - It is close to 'hiding.'
An American website tells me the name 'Kuiper' click to hear "sounds like 'viper.'" Now does muis click to hear ('mouse') sound like English 'mice' or like 'mouse'? To Dutchmen 'Kuiper' and 'muis' have the same UI-sound. Here is what English 'I' sounds like to me: maïs click to hear 2 ('corn, "Indian" corn') - also compare huis click to hear 2 ('house') and maïsbrij click to hear 2 ('mashed cooked corn')
Native speakers of English, used to a spelling that's not a reliable guide to pronunciation, may assume that the spelling of other languages is also not systematically phonetic.
See also: 'Dutch Sounds not Found in English' in the 1-page summary
Ik heb cash click to hear ('I have cash') - my English isn't perfect ->>
On an internet forum I saw the question "how to pronounce 'Jacoba van Beieren.'" Someone answered "Schuffelen says like 'Bye.'" - Well, no, that's not how I say it.
Jacoba van Beieren click to hear 2 (I had no access for posting a correction)

Thijs click to hear
boys' name
Thais click to hear
thee click to hear
tij click to hear
Thai click to hear
a Thai
mee click to hear
mij click to hear
mees click to hear 2
a bird
Meis click to hear 2 3
maïs click to hear 2


[man, woman: humans]
man click to hear 2 3 - vrouw click to hear
mensen click to hear
ouders click to hear
kinderen click to hear
[male] vader click to hear (father)
"pappa" click to hear (Dad)
[female] zusje click to
	     hear (sister)
X [male] broer click to
	     hear (brother)
ik click to hear (me)
[female] moeder click to hear (mother)
"mamma" click to hear (Mom)
[female] dochter click to
	     hear (daughter)
[male] zoon click to
	     hear (son)
[female] vrouw click to hear
[male] man click to hear
Dutch vrouw click to hear is both 'wife' and in general, 'the female of the human species.' Plural: vrouwen click to hear ('women.')
vrouwelijk click to hear / vrouwelijke click to hear ('female, feminine, womanly') ‑>>
Dutch man click to hear is both 'husband' and in general, 'the male of the human species.' Plural: mannen click to hear ('men, males.')
mannelijk click to hear 2 / mannelijke click to hear ('male, masculine, manly')
kind click to hear ('child') - plural: kinderen click to hear ('children')
kinderlijk click to hear 2 ('childlike')
kinderachtig click to hear 2 ('childish, infantile' - adults or teenagers behaving like children')
jongen click to hear ('boy')
meisje click to hear ('girl')
mensen click to hear ('people, humans beings, men') - singular: mens click to hear ('1 human being.')
The drawing of a man and a woman are from plates NASA put on the Pioneer spaceships to show aliens (if they are out there) what we look like.
Optional Further Study: Family Tree

Numbers 0-10

click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
numbers, simple math and dimensions - >>
Exercise: count backwards
[4 generations]
vier generaties click to hear (4 generations)
drie moeders, drie dochters click to hear (3 mothers, 3 daughters)
(You could also say there are four daughters in the picture.)
[4 generations]
vier generaties click to hear (4 generations)

'Dutch,' 'German' and 'Germanic'

Because of the many negative expressions like 'Dutch treat' and 'Dutch courage' some Dutch people try to avoid the word 'Dutch' - there was even a 1930s Dutch government guideline recommending the use of 'Netherlands' instead of 'Dutch.' I used to work at the "Netherlands Library for the Blind."
In Holland, we call the neighbors to the East Duitsers click to hear ('Germans,') singular: Duitser click to hear ('German,') their language or the adjective is Duits click to hear ('German') and their country Duitsland click to hear ('Germany.')
This leaves Dutch the word Germanen click to hear for the members of the Germanic tribes of old that are the ancestors of most of the people in North-Western Europe, and whose language lives on in English, Frisian, Dutch, German and the Scandinavian languages (except Finnish.)
Germaans click to hear 2 3 'Germanic' - the Dutch word for 'Indo-European' is Indogermaans click to hear Please note that English 'German' only refers to the people of Germany and their language (which is also spoken in Austria and in a different form in part of Switzerland) - while Germanic refers to a much larger group and their languages.
The Dutch word 'Duits' click to hear - the English 'Dutch' click to hear 2 - German 'Deutsch' click to hear 2 and Italian 'Tedeschi' all come from an old word that those Germanic tribes of 2000 years ago used to refer to themselves, 'we, our people.' The word for 'the other tribe,' 'not our own people' is found in 'Wales' of Great Britain, 'Wallonia' for the French-speaking part of Belgium, and the German adjective welsch ('foreign - French, Italian or Spanish.') << - essays - >>

Thank you Billy Eric, Daniel Baskin and Bob Krieckhaus for feedback that improved this page.

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