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The New 'Connecting N'

Pronouncing the 'N' at the End of Dutch Words

Many people in Holland, especially in the West, don't pronounce the N at the end of words. I consider that sloppy and incorrect, but I have to admit to a certain softening of my final N's

From the Dutch and Belgian Government Publication on The Preferred Spelling of the Dutch Language:
'In Dutch we find lope, loopm and lopen; the standard pronunciation is lopen.'

Uit: 'Woordenlijst Nederlandse Taal' ('Het Groene Boekje'), p17:
'Het Nederlands kent lope, loopm en lopen; de standaarduitspraak is lopen.'
hear: lopen lope loopm click to hear
wij lope click to hear / wij lopen click to hear - we're walking
more lopen  'to walk'

(Dutch Government Printing Office 'Staatsdrukkerij,' Den Haag 1995
Belgian Government Printing Office 'Standaard Uitgeverij,' Antwerpen 1995)

The only person who ever criticized me in person for pronouncing the final N's in Dutch was an American professor. Donaldson also says "it's unnatural not to drop one's N's" (in his modestly titled book 'Dutch.') It's a big thing for English-speaking linguists because dropping those final N's is supposed to show the Ingwaeonic (English and Frisian) influence on Dutch. I consider it sloppy to drop those N's - but it's a free country. Speak as you like.
But there's nothing wrong with pronouncing the final N's. The worst you can say of it is that it sounds 'educated.' My recommendation to foreign students is to pronounce the final N's. Dropping them makes Dutch spelling less phonetic and adds an extra rule.

I myself try to pronounce all final N's in Dutch, and I recommend you do too, but of course we live in the free world.
To students, I recommend to pronounce the final N's, because dropping them just adds another rule, it will make learning Dutch harder. You'll have to write those N's and you'll see them written, so adding another exception to the fairly phonetic pronunciation of Dutch just increases the level of difficulty.
Anyway, as Multatuli says in the Max Havelaar (1860, generally considered the greatest Dutch novel): "Don't tell someone from Amsterdam that he speaks the accent." ( ... zeg dat hij een amsterdams accent heeft - wat nooit een Amsterdammer toestemt - ... (p. 100))

correct spelling spelling adapted to reflect pronunciation
De mensen praten plat. click to hear De mense prate plat. click to hear People talk sloppily, substandard. *
Wil je blijven eten? click to hear 2 3 Wil je blijve ete? click to hear Would you like to stay for [food - usually:] dinner?
We hebben lopen demonstreren. click to
    hear We hebbe lope demonstrere. click to hear 2 3 We have been in a protest march.
Dat had ik veel eerder moeten doen click to hear 2 Dat had ik veel eerder moete doen click to hear 2 I should have done that [much earlier] long ago
Ik heb 'm leren kennen in 't leger click to hear 2 3 Ik heb 'm lere kenne in 't leger click to hear I came to know him in the army

The New 'Connecting N'

(de) verbindings-N click to hear 'connecting N'
There used to be a charming rule for a group of compound words that combine a source material or a designation and a product, result or a quality, property, characteristic, specific item. For instance, (het) bessensap click to hear 2 'berry juice.' The rule used to be that a connecting N was inserted if the result, the second part of the word could only be made from multiple items of the base material, but that no N was inserted if the result could come from a single item of base material. So if the berry juice could be made from a single berry the word was 'bessesap'  but if it required more than one berry it was 'bessensap.'  One of my uncles had been manager of a lemonade factory, and he told me that they used just one blackcurrant berry for a small bottle of (de) cassis click to hear - so the rule made sense to me.
But in a ca. year 2000 spelling reform the single-item rule was dropped and now almost all of these compound words need to written with the verbindings-N click to hear 'connecting N.' The rule was actually 'sharpened' to if there is  only one constituting item, like (de) zonneschijn click to hear 2 3 ('sunshine') and (de) Koninginnedag click to hear 2 ('the Queen's Holiday) - but of course there are still exceptions.
The rule actually says compound words that have a voiceless, unstressed E between the parts.
It used to be eendeëi click to hear 2 ("ducks' egg") but nowadays it's supposed to be spelled 'eendenei.'  I don't think this new N is pronounced much.
(het) spinnenweb click to hear ('spiderweb')

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