Here you will find a word or two about Dutch
pronunciation, well... it's really more like a crash course in Dutch, to be
taken with a sly smile and a pinch of salt.
Lesson 1: Introduction
The English translation of Dutch words throughout this course is between (brackets).
In English you have mat and mate, rat and rate, pet and pete, hop and hope,
cut and cute.
We have something similar. Here are some examples — their pronunciation comes in a minute: (Minute like in 60 seconds not like really tiny. And yes, we have something similar to that one as well.)
"maan" (moon), plural "manen", "man" (man), plural "mannen",
"heel" (whole), "hel" (hell); "veel" (much, many), "vel" (skin), plural "vellen"
"poot" (paw), plural "poten", "pot" (pot), plural "potten"
"muur" (wall), plural "muren", "put" (pit), plural "putten"
Lesson 2: The vowels
The oa in boat, the ou in bounty, are pronounced like one vowel.
We have something similar in "hoed" (hat), "hout" (wood), "niet" (not), "klein" (small).
But you also have words like theater, naïve, intuitive and special where the
ea, aï, the ui
and the ia are pronounced as two separate and different vowels.
We have something similar but where confusion is possible we put an umlaut on the second vowel to indicate that it is pronounced separately. Here are a few examples with, where necessary their translation in braquets: "geïnitialiseerd", (initialized), "geopend" (opened), "naïef" (naïve) and Noë.
The a as in "kat" (cat), "lang" (long), Margriet, is
pronounced like the a in march.
The aa or a as in kaas (cheese), "later" (later), Watervliet, Maarten, Maastricht is pronounced a bit like the first vowel in Haagen Dash or lager.
The au as in "gauw" (soon), Laureins is pronounced a bit like the ou in about.
The e like in "pret" (fun), "vet" (fat), "net"
(net), Gent (Ghent), Bentille is
pronounced like in pet, wet, net.
The ee or e as in Eeklo, meer (more or lake), the first syllable of Eremo is pronounced like the a in pale, male.
The ee in the word "een" is pronounced like the indefinite article 'an' which is what it means or as in pale when we mean one.
"Maan" (moon), plural "manen", "oog" (eye), plural "ogen", "uur" (hour), plural "uren": the "en" at the end of these words is pronounced like the English indefinite article 'an' or the 2 first letters of under.
The ei as in "ei" (egg), plural "eieren", "klein" (small), Laureins, I'm afraid there is no sound quite like it in English. If you pronouce it like the i in wine I believe people will understand you.
The eu as in "deugd" (virtue), Geuzen, "leugen" (lie), "neus" (nose) is pronounced like the French words 'peu', 'lieu', 'creux".
The i like in "pin", "win", "pit" (kernel),
"in", "min", "vin" (fin) is pronounced like
in fin, pin, inn, pit, kid. Not at all like in minus, like, wine.
The ie as in "bier" (beer), "vliet" (river), "niet" (not), "fier" (proud), "riet" (reed), Watervliet, Biervliet, St. Margriete is pronounced like easy, fleet, beer, reed, mean.
For the ij like in "ijs" (ice), "wijn" (wine), "fijn" (fine) see our remarks on "ei".
The o as in "kort" (short), "hond", (dog) is pronounced
like the English pronounce pot, hot, dog, cot, or, or dot, com.
The oe like in the words Goethals, "boer" (farmer), Boekhoute, "noen" (midday) is pronounced like the oo in English words like do, boor, moon.
The oo or o as in "groot" (big), "hoog" (high, tall), "noot" (nut), "noten" (nuts), Vooren, Boone, Eeklo, Waterloo, Lovendegem or Jozef, Oostburg is pronounced like the o in English words such as door, lore or before.
For the ou as in "hout" (wood), "oud" (old), "goud" (gold), Boekhoute see "au" above.
The u like in "put" (pit), "hut", "muts",
Brugge (Bruges) is pronounced as in ultra, pun, under.
The uu or u as in "uur" (hour), plural "uren", "muur" (wall), plural "muren", "unie" (union) is pronounced like the French union, util or the German "uber"
The ui as in "uit" (out), "luid" (loud) is pronounced more or less like the u in further or murder.
Lesson 3: The consonnants
The c is pronounced like a k in words such as "contract".
The d is pronounced like d except at the end of the word where it's pronounced like a t.
The g is pronounced like the h in hot or his and not at all like the g in gone or good.
Ph as in Philippine, Philemon is pronounced like an f as in photo.
The r is rolled between the front teeth and the tip of the tongue.
Sch as in "schip" (ship), Schelde (Scheldt), "schoon" (beautiful), Waarschoot is pronounced like this: first the s sound immediately followed by the first letter of words like heaven, high, hill. It is not pronounced the same as shower, shoulder or the French ch as in chanter (to sing), Chambord, Chenonceau. And there is no k sound in it so it is definitely not pronounced as the first few letters of English words like school, skipper or skunk.
T is pronounced like in tea, never the way Americans pronounce the t in water.
Lesson 4: Conclusions
Except for the exceptions and foreign words every letter not treated above is pronounced exactly like in English.
Once one knows these few simple rules, Dutch is easy.
Most recent update : 24-03-2020