If you’re ever on holiday in the Netherlands, you’re in luck. English is spoken almost everywhere, and as a general rule it’s spoken very well. Even so, as a polite guest, you might want to know a little about the Dutch language and Dutch translation.
Before we delve into all of that, we should get the name of this very flat country straight. The Netherlands is also known as Holland, and the dominant language in this land of windmills and reclaimed earth is Dutch. Some people get confused by all of the different names. And just to be clear, there is no place call “Dutch Land,” although Germans (a country neighboring Holland) refer to their own country “Deutschland.”
Dutch is a Germanic language spoken in the Netherlands, in the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten, as well as in many parts of Belgium, and some places in Suriname and Indonesia. Dutch, German and English are all “cousin” languages. If you listen to a native Dutch speaker conversing, you might recognize certain linguistic patterns and cadences, even if you don’t understand the actual words.
If you’re a tourists struggling with Dutch translation, you can always fall back on your English. The Dutch (also the name of the people) have made their way in this world largely through commerce, which means they have to be proficient in many tongues. Dutch, unfortunately for people living in Holland, isn’t a global trading language.
Here are a few words and phrases to get your started with some basic Dutch:
Ja – Yes
Nee – No
Hoi – Hi
Dag – Goodbye
Tot ziens – See you later
Goedemorgen – Good morning
Goedemiddag – Good afternoon
Spreek je Engels? – Do you speak English?
Ik spreek geen Nederlands – I don’t speak Dutch
Ik versta het niet – I don’t understand
Een prettige dag – Have a nice day
Geen problem – No problem
Alsjeblieft – Please
Dank je – Thank you
Dank u wel – Thank you very much
Now that you know a few simple Dutch words, you might want to think about trekking through the Netherlands and practice what you’ve learned.
Image of popular Dutch wooden clogs by Berkh (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons