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"Dutch is not so much a language as it is an ailment of the throat."

John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars

...Good god, was he right.

The Dutch language is extremely infamous for its pronunciation- to such an extent that it gets its own section on the No Pronunciation Guide page of This Very Wiki. Of course, when one looks at all the sounds in particular, it's not really all that bad.

For the most part with Dutch pronunciation, what you see is what you get, unless you're dealing with a loanword. Still, however, there are some things about the language that will make non-speakers want to get a lobotomy, and so for the sake of clarity, the three hardest sounds in the Dutch language will be covered first, and then all the other vowels, consonants and combos will be covered later.

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So, without further ado...

The Dutch G

KREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAUGH!

...We're kidding, of course, but that's more or less how most non-native speakers sound when trying to say this. For many non-natives, this is the most infamous sound in the whole language, and it actually has two different pronunciations depending on where in the Netherlands you live. When SOSchip tackled this issue, they portrayed the two different Gs as two groups of cats playing a football game — for a reason. Regarding the sound itself, in the north it's pronounced similarly to the ch as in loch or Bach, whereas in the south it's pronounced like a hissing cat (ie: the "ch" in the German ich). And from the natives themselves, this sound has been described as everything including:

  • Two cats meeting each other and hissing
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  • A reverse snore
  • The sound of you getting popcorn stuck in your throat and trying to get it out
  • A cat coughing up a hairball
And the list goes on and on and on. Basically, it's a catch in your throat with a bunch of air being thrown out. If you want to do it yourself, try gargling water- without the water- or try saying the "KREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAUGH" portion as above, but a lot softer.

Hey, that's how Pokémon × Nimja: Play the Game did it.

The Dutch UI

...Hey, who's cutting onions in here?

The other hardest sound in the language, ui is not just a sound but also a word- specifically, it means "onion" in Dutch, hence the first sentence. For the record, this sound is not pronounced like ow as in cow. It's instead a diphthong- that is, a combination of two vowel sounds. Of course, just about everyone who's not-native pronounces this sound like "ow" as in "cow"— unless you're Dutch, in which case we sincerely apologize. If you're French or speak it fluently, though, this should be very easy for you.

Largely because this sound is a combination of the vowels in coeur and mur.

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Now, if you're not French, then try this: start to say "I," but stop in the middle and round your lips as if to whistle. It should work, or at least get you closer to the original Dutch pronunciation.

Or, you know, just say "ow." The Dutch won't mind, really.

The Dutch IJ

This is the least difficult out of all of them. More or less, this is pronounced the same way as the long i in English. However, it's pronounced slightly differently by an actual Dutchie. Regardless, it's the closest approximation you can get.

Notably, this is the only letter out of the G-UI-IJ combo that didn't get its own episode in SOSchip. note 

Vowels

First off, the Dutch have two different kinds of vowels- long and short, just like in English. Long vowels are pretty much the original vowel, but doubled. At least that's how they're written. How they're ''pronounced," on the other hand, is a bit different. Here they are:

  • a= Pronounced the same way as the "a" in "car."
  • aa= More or less pronounced the same as the "a" in "cat", but a bit longer.
  • e= Pronounced the same way as the "e" in "bed."
  • ee= Pronounced the same way as the "ea" in "great" or the long "a" as in "pay."
  • i= Pronounced the same way as the "i" in... well, "in."
  • ie= Pronounced the same way as the long "ee," as in "tree."
  • o= Pronounced the same way as the "o" in "pot."
  • oo= Pronounced the same way as the "oa" in "boat."
  • u= Pronounced the same way as the "u" in "cut."
  • uu= The French u; pronounced like the "ee" as in "tree" but with the lips rounded as if to whistle.

There are also vowel combinations, which are found below:

  • oe= More or less pronounced the same way as the double "o" in "pool", or the oe in "shoe".
  • eu= Pronounced as in the French feu.
  • ui= See the section on the UI for more.
  • ei= Pronounced the same as the ij; see section on that for more.

Consonants

Good news: the only tricky consonant has been covered. Everything else can be found in English. The consonants are:

  • b= Same as in English.
  • c= Pronounced as a K if in front of an A or O; pronounced as an S if in front of an E or I.
  • d= Same as in English.
  • f= Same as in English.
  • g= See the section on the G for more.
  • h= Same as in English.
  • j= Pronounced like the "y" in "yes."
  • k= Same as in English. Always pronounced; even before an "n".
  • l= Same as in English.
  • m= Same as in English.
  • n= Same as in English.
  • p= Same as in English.
  • s= Same as in English.
  • t= Same as in English.
  • v= Same as in English.
  • w= Same as in English.
  • z= Same as in English.

And just like with the vowels, there are also consonant combinations:

  • ch= Pronounced the same way as the Dutch G; see the section on that for more.
  • sch= Pronounced as an "s" followed by a "g".
  • ng= Same as in English.


Congratulations, you no longer need to look at Yuunarii's video- all the Dutch pronunciation info you need is right here on this page.

Good luck.

Alternative Title(s): Dutch Pronunciation

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