Search my site: Facebook

Lesson 4 - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Listen to The Dutch Anthem - 'Voiceless E' - The Article - Vocabulary (Clothing) - Numbers 20-100 (#1) - The Dutch Revolt

'Voiceless, Unstressed E' - the 'schwa'
The Article
Numbers 20-100
The Dutch Revolt

The Dutch Anthem is about the leader of the Dutch Revolution William of Orange, born William of Nassau (1533-1584) - the Dutch George Washington. His father was the count of Nassau in present-day Germany, and he inherited the 'principality' of Orange in present-day France, which gave him the title of 'prince.' - more at the end of this lesson.
The song is in 16th-century Dutch, when many words still had endings according to their function in the sentence. Luckily, almost all of that has disappeared from modern Dutch - so don't worry about a thing.
The Dutch Anthem
Het Wilhelmus
Wilhelmus van Nassouwe
Ben ik van Duitsen bloed
Den Vaderland getrouwe
Blijf ik tot in den doet
Een prinse van Oranje
Ben ik, vrij, onverveerd
Den konink van Hispanje
Heb ik altijd geëerd
click to hear (please rise)

I am William of Nassau
A man of our people
Loyal to the Fatherland
I'll remain to my dying day
I am a prince of Orange
Free and without fear
The king of Spain
I have always respected

'Wilhelmus' click to hear is a Latinized version of German 'Wilhelm.' English 'William,' Dutch: Willem click to hear.
There are various interpretations of 'van Duitsen bloed.' In modern Dutch, it would read as 'of German blood,' and one opinion is that it points to William's German descent. I think the 'Duits' means 'us, our tribe, we the people: I am a man of our people' - as I said in the second lesson, from an old Germanic word, 'theudo,' ('diutisc' in old High German), which the Germanic tribes used to refer to themselves, like we would say 'of our nation, our people.' This word is the root of English 'Dutch,' and these three words that mean 'German:' Dutch 'Duits,' German 'Deutsch,' and Italian 'Tedeschi.'

'Voiceless E'

Dutch double E is always long - Kees click to hear (boys' name) - but single E can be pronounced in three (3) different ways: long, short and voiceless. 'Voiceless E' is also (maybe more professionally) called 'unstressed E' or 'the schwa.'
Exception:  the ee of the indefinite article een click to hear is pronounced as 'voiceless, unstressed E.' It is sometimes phonetically more correct written as " 'n " - see also below
The pronunciation examples are not meant as vocabulary to be learned
'long E' click to hear 'short E' click to hear 2 'voiceless E' click to hear
snertkerel click to hear (bad or useless guy)
short / long / voiceless
berenvel click to hear (bear skin)
long / voiceless / short
hernemen click to hear ('to retake')
short / long / voiceless
reservedeken click to hear (spare blanket)
voiceless / short / voiceless / long / voiceless
snel eten click to hear (eating fast)
short / long / voiceless
deze weg click to hear (this road)
long / voiceless / short
het hele meer click to hear (the whole lake)
short / long / voiceless / long
Single E is voiceless ( click to hear ) in the prefixes (beginnings of words) be-, ge-, te- and ver- click to hear
belet gered terecht verlet click to hear
(~refusal - saved - found/justified - dispensation)
Single E is voiceless in the suffixes (word endings) -en, -er and -e click to hear
helden helder helde click to hear
(heroes - clear - leaned over)
sterke werken echter click to hear
(strong - works - although, however)
One-syllable words don't have voiceless E prefixes and suffixes as described above, but there a single E is short:
bes Ger tel ver click to hear
(berry - boys' name - count - far)
pen den der ster click to hear
(pen (writing) - fir tree - of the (old-fashioned) - star)
- except for the -e ending which remains voiceless:
je te we click to hear
(you too we)

Single E is short ( click to hear 2 ) like other short vowels as explained in the previous lesson:

Single E is long ( click to hear ) when followed by one consonant and another vowel - unless it's a prefix or suffix as described above. (Words divide in syllables, and in Dutch a single consonant usually goes to the second syllable.) English 'silent E' works somewhat like this: man/mane, can/cane.

Compare: vel
((I) am)
(the #2)
click to hear 'short'
with: vele
(strong dislike)
(be called)
click to hear 'long'
Compare: felle
(to save
(from danger))
(fat, greasy)
(to lay)
click to hear 2 'short'
with: vele
(to empty out)
click to hear 'long'

E is short in the prefixes her- and ter- click to hear
tergend herverdelen terdege hernemen click to hear
(exasperating - re-distribute - properly - re-take)
The ending -el is almost always voiceless:
egel edel wezel click to hear
(hedgehog - noble - weasel)
enkel engel grendel stremsel greppel click to hear 2
(ankle/single - angel - bolt (door) - coagulant (rennet) - gully)
But: tabel click to hear 2 (table - list, schematic) - toestel click to hear (device, machine)
rebel click to hear 2 (rebel) - kapel click to hear (chapel)
hotel click to hear (hotel)

Many words are in the pattern:
prefix with voiceless E / stressed syllable / suffix with voiceless E
The vowel of the 'stressed sylable' will be 'long' when followed by just one consonant and another vowel (somewhat like English 'silent E') or 'short' when followed by more than one consonant. For instance:
bederven bedreven click to hear 2
(to spoil - good at)
vervelen beleden genezen benemend click to hear
(to bore - to profess - to heal, cure - ~taking away)
vervellen bedenken gewesten click to hear 2
(to shed skin - to think up - regions)
As you hear the words on my site, pay attention to how the vowels are pronounced, especially the E's.
See also the Pronunciation Reference page for another treatment of the 'voiceless, unstressed E' with many examples

The basic words that make up compound words keep their original spelling and pronunciation - as your vocabulary grows you'll recognize more and more of these building blocks. Also note that the stress in compound words can be in more than one syllable.
zeester click to hear 2 [sea-star] 'starfish'
meeëter click to hear 'acne pimple')
- the double dots (diaeresis - Dutch: trema click to hear) on top of the E indicate a syllable break before this letter. It may look like the German Umlaut but its function is completely different. ‑>>

- many more words with 'voiceless, unstressed E'

The Article

The definite article ('the') has two forms in Dutch: de click to hear and het click to hear - in spoken Dutch, het is often shortened to 't click to hear (note the vowel change from 'short E' to 'voiceless E.')
de man
de vrouw
het kind
't mannetje
the man
the woman
the child
'the little man'

There are only a few useful rules about what are 'de'-words and what are 'het'-words. It has little to do with the apparent 'gender' of words. All diminutives (words ending in -je) are 'het' words. Plurals always get 'de.' A majority of Dutch words are 'de'-words, probably 60-75%. Most of my words list give the 'de' or 'het' with the word, and I'm afraid it's just something you'll have to memorize when learning words. (de) taal click to hear 2 'language.'

The indefinite article ('a') in Dutch is een click to hear which in a rare exception to spelling rules is pronounced as 'voiceless E' - it is sometimes more correctly written as 'n. For emphasis, you could say één click to hear ('one')
- more about 'De' and 'Het'

de / het / 't
click to hear
een, 'n
click to hear - 2
(a, an)
click to hear


[a skirt]
(de) rok
[a dress]
(de) jurk click to hear 2
[ladies' or children's shirt]
(de) blouse click to hear
[dress shirt]
(het) overhemd click to hear
[wool sweater]
(de) trui click to hear
[a fleece jacket]
(het) vest click to hear
[a vest]
(het) vestje click to hear
(de) broek click to hear 2
[blue jeans]
(de) spijkerbroek click to hear
[business suit]
(het) pak click to hear
[denim jacket and jeans, a 'denim suit']
(het) spijkerpak click to hear
= (het) inspraakpak click to hear
[a pair of socks]
(de) sokken click to hear 2
[three pairs of shoes]
(de) schoenen click to hear
[a coat]
(de) jas click to hear
[a shawl keeping my neck warm]
(de) das click to hear = (de) sjaal click to hear
[a hat]
(de) hoed click to hear
[cap, baseball cap]
(de) pet click to hear 2
Spijker click to hear in spijkerbroek ('blue jeans') means 'carpentry nail.'
(De) inspraak click to hear 2 is 'co-decision,' like in the staff councils set up in the late sixties, where workers were supposed to get a voice in the running of companies and offices.
more clothes

Numbers 20-100

click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
click to
<< numbers,
simple math
and dimensions
Note the T added to 80: 'tachtig,' and not 'achtig.'
In Dutch, we just say honderd click to
      hear (100) - not something like 'one hundred' or 'a hundred' as in English.
Sharp listeners may have noted that the -IG ending is pronounced with voiceless E, and not the expected short I. It is one of a few exceptions. I'll list pronunciation exceptions in one of the next lessons.

The Dutch Revolt

In the late Middle Ages, present-day Holland and Belgium were a collection of small territories ruled by counts, dukes and bishops. It was part of the 'German Empire,' which was actually just a loose federation of mostly Germanic-speaking lands that further roughly included present-day Germany, Switzerland, The Czech Republic ('Bohemia'), Austria and some of Northern Italy. The German emperor (called 'Roman Emperor') was elected by a few of the more powerful rulers. Maps: 1000 AD - 1650 AD
By clever marriages, other rulers' lack of heirs and a few wars, in the early 1400s most of present-day Holland and Belgium passed on to the rule of the Dukes of Burgundy (Bourgondië click to hear 2) like Philip the Good (Filips de Goede click to hear 2 3) and his son Charles the Bold (Karel de Stoute * click to hear) - the Dutch word Bargoens click to hear 2 ('slang') may be a corruption of the Dutch word for 'Burgundian' - the strange language of the new officials or of the French word 'baragouin' for 'barbaric, unintelligible speech.'
In the early 1500s Charles V (Karel de Vijfde click to hear 2) of Habsburg, king of Spain, became the ruler of the Netherlands. Charles V and later his son Philip II (Filips de Tweede click to hear 2) tried to suppress Protestantism, but together with their attempts to strengthen central government and limit local privileges, high taxation and an economic downturn led to the Dutch Revolt. It took 80 years (1568-1648) for the Spanish to recognize Dutch independence: De Tachtigjarige Oorlog click to hear 2 ("The Eighty-Years' War")
Shortly before the Revolt, a group of Dutch nobles petitioned the Spanish Governor for greater tolerance of Protestantism, but they were dismissed by an adviser as 'just a bunch of beggars,' "Ils ne sont que des gueux," as he said in French. The revolutionaries proudly took a Dutchified form of that word as their name, Geuzen click to hear.

At the start of the revolt, the noblemen Egmond click to hear 2 and Hoorne click to hear 2 were publicly executed by the Spanish, together with hundreds of other protestants and protestors.
Alva click to hear 2 (Ferdinand Alvarez de Toledo) the Spanish governor in the first part of the Dutcch Revolt.
The first success of the Dutch Revolt was the April 1st, 1572 capture of the port city of Den Briel click to hear ('Brill.') >> After that Spanish troops rampaged through Holland, but after some initial successes they left in 1574, and never returned to the Dutch heartland.
The Dutch Revolt was led by William of Orange, (Willem van Oranje click to hear nicknamed 'William The Silent' Willem de Zwijger click to hear) and by William's sons Maurits click to hear and Frederik Hendrik click to hear (nicknamed 'de Stedendwinger' click to hear 2 'subjugator of cities') after William's 1584 assassination.
The Orange-Nassau family only became royal rulers after the French occupation (1797-1813.) At first they were stadhouders click to hear a kind of heriditary presidents. The word has nothing to do with Dutch stad click to hear ('town, city' - so which city?) but more with English 'instead' and German 'statt' - instead of the King.
The new country was called the Republic (Republiek click to hear 2) of De Verenigde Provinciën click to hear ('The United Provinces,') a federal government as already pioneered by the Swiss, and followed again 130 years later by another great nation. Also: De Zeven (7) Provinciën click to hear
Present-day Belgium remained in Spanish hands, and was passed on to Austria in the 1700s. After a brief union with the Northern Netherlands from 1813 Belgium became independent in 1838.

Government and Elections in Holland
<< - essays - >>

(Learning Dutch)
[left arrow] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 [right arrow] next
email - Copyright © Marco Schuffelen 2009. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, redistributed, or hotlinked to.
Don't be a dief (thief) / dievegge (female thief) - diefstal (theft) - stelen (to steal) - heler (dealer in stolen goods) - hear Dutch - 2