Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Liedje van de dag: Blankenberge

This might be a perfect song to practice the Flemish pronunciation of words. Hugo Matthysen is a Flemish columnist with a very recognisable sence of humour. Again, this song is in "clean" Dutch, but the parlando might be extra helpful. In this song, Blankenberge, he pronounces every sentence syllable per syllable. Maybe a bit fast for the beginner, but those who have reached a somewhat intermediate understanding of Dutch can use the lyrics as a good pronunciation exercise.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wablieft? Duidelijke taal!

logo of Wablieft
For those who are learning Dutch, it would be interesting to note that there is a Belgian newspaper, Wablieft, which writes its articles in "easy to understand Dutch": Duidelijke Taal. For more than twenty five years now, they publish a paper version on every Wednesday, and since 2009 they publisch an electronic version as well.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Toekomstige tijd

taken from Nederlands in Uitvoering
Yesterday, Mandy told me: "I have no idea how to write [in the past tense], or the future tense, so I mostly just stick with the present for now".

The past tense in Dutch needs some more explanation, but the future tense is failry easy:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Liedje van de dag: Arme Joe

Another artists who sings in Flemish is the sixty years old Will Tura and he has been bringing out singles since 1957. Every Fleming, young and old, knows his songs and in 2001 he has been knighted by the Belgian king. His voice is very recognizable and he has always made an effort to sing in "clean" Dutch, although he has made some songs in the West-Flemish dialect as well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

'ei' or 'ij'

an egg or an ice cream?
Another confusing beauty in the Dutch language: do I write 'ei' or 'ij'?

Both sound exactly the same, but it is extremely important to use the correct written form in order to avoid confusion. There are no 'rules' or 'mnemonics' for it, you will just have to study it, word for word. Undust does dictionaries and unfold those bookworm-glasses!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Liedje van de dag: Wim

It is probably too soon to post a song with my own name as the title, but I do enjoy this one and want to share it.
Johan Verminnen is a Flemish singer-songwriter. In his song "Wim" he is looking at a picture from his old study friends and wonders wat gebeurde er met Wim.

Again, this is a song with a slight Flemish pronunciation, but it is still "clean" Dutch. Interesting is that most of the text is written in the past tense:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"kunnen" vs "mogen"

Illustration taken from Nandita

Three days ago, Mandy asked: "about the difference between 'kun' and 'kan', and when you use those or when you use 'mag'".

Which is a great question!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

geen - niet

Illustration taken
from MathGoodies
Negation in a Dutch sentence can happen in two simple ways: by using the word "niet", or by using the word "geen".

Always use the word "niet", except when it is a noun that you want to negate in the sentence.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Liedje van de dag: Daar gaat ze

Do you remember the previous song, België? "Het Goede Doel" was talking about considering to move to Belgium because "dat taaltje is zo zacht". As I am a Vlaming (a Fleming: a Dutch speaking Belgian) myself, I am very willing to introduce you to this "soft language", although I wouldn't call certain Flemish dialects "soft".

Although Wikipedia quotes Taalunieversum by stating that the "differences between Dutch and Flemish are significant enough that it is customary for Flemish television shows to be subtitled in Dutch, and vice versa", Flemish people and Dutch people read the same books and actually speak the same language. To me, it is like comparing British and American English. There are some sound differences, there are some words that are particulary "Flemish" or particulary "Dutch". Once somebody gets to know these differences (both pure vocabulary differences and differences in meaning of the same word), it is fairly easy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"je gaat" vs "ga je"

Conjugating a verb in Dutch is not too difficult, but you will need to understand the following principals: find the stem of the verb, that will be the first person singular, add a 't' to it to get the second and third person singular and add 'en' to the stem to get all the plural forms.

Let's take an easy one: werken (put your mouse on top of the word to see the translation)
ik werkik werk als receptionist
jij/je werktjij werkt thuis
hij/zij/het werktMark? Hij werkt vandaag niet.
wij werkenwij werken op het postkantoor
jullie werkenDag collega's, jullie werken hard!
zij werkenJan en Bart, zij werken op maandag

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Samengestelde woorden

Illustration taken from Wikimedia

Combined words, a very interesting topic. Unlike in English, the Dutch language requires that combined words are written as one word. It is a very common mistake, also amongst native speakers. It occurs so frequently that in 2004, people have built a website that collects examples of this kind of mistakes.

Illustration taken from SOS
A good example is a website that promotes perfumes. You can choose between "scents for ladies" and "scents for gentlemen". In Dutch, this should be: "damesgeuren" and "herengeuren", both written as one word as it is a combination of the words "ladies" and "scents". Unfortunately, the website has put a separation between both parts of the combined word, not realising that "dames geuren" can be read as if 'geuren' is a verb, changing the meaning to "ladies smell (bad)" and "gentlemen smell (bad)".
Not really the image that you would expect from perfumesellers, this smells...

Liedje van de dag: België (is er leven op Pluto)

Songs are a good way to practice pronunciation, learn a bit new vocabulary and at the same time even explore some culture! The language used in songs and poetry is more free, the writer can choose to ignore some grammatical rules for the art form. Still I would recommend to listen to as much music in the language that you want to learn, watch their television shows, try their newspapers and see if they have released a good movie lately.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Het geslacht van zelfstandige naamwoorden

Illustration taken
from SLRevolution

Although I have only been a Livemocha-user shortly (*), I have noticed that Dutch learners have troubles with defining the gender of nouns in Dutch. This is quite a hurdle in the road of mastering the Dutch language and even native speakers make mistakes regarding this one, but the solution is simple: use a dictionary. I recommend to use Van Dale (also for Linux users) or the Wiktionary.

Now, why is this so important?