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Introduction to the Dutch Vowels and Diphthongs
    Flashcards Listening Test
Klinkers en Tweeklanken Luistertest

If you're brave (or anyway) you can jump to the large tests right away:
(These flashcards exercises have only two-syllable words or phrases of two one-syllable words)

Hear All Vowels and Diphthongs Next to Each Other

All Vowels and Diphthongs with Exceptions and Special Cases

(de) klinker click to hear vowel - plural:  klinkers click to hear
(de) medeklinker click to hear consonant - plural:  medeklinkers click to hear more
(de) tweeklank click to hear diphthong - plural: tweeklanken click to hear
lettergrepen click to hear (let-ter-gre-pen click to hear 2) syllables - singular:  (de) lettergreep click to hear

The Dutch vowels come in two varieties, traditionally called 'long' (lang click to hear 2 3 4) and 'short' (kort click to hear 2 3 4) - but it is actually more a difference in tone.

short A click to hear
long A click to hear
short E click to hear
long E click to hear
short I click to hear
long I (IE) click to hear
short O click to hear
long O click to hear
short U click to hear
long U click to hear
more about the vowels

A sound like Dutch 'long A' is unusual in English, but it's found in names like Chicago and Florida
There is no sound like Dutch 'short I' in French
The sound of Dutch OO is often represented by OE in English (and vice versa)
There is no sound like Dutch long U in English, but it is is found in French, like in cru or dur click to hear and in German, like in hügel and muesli click to hear

There's a problematic 'third E' that's outside the long/short categories. I call it the 'voiceless, unstressed E' click to hear - it's also called the 'schwa.'
The Dutch word for it is 'stomme E' click to hear 2 or 'toonloze E' click to hear but I'd rather call it 'niet-beklemtoonde E' click to
 hear ('unstressed E') but that's a mouthful. How about 'doffe E' click to hear 2 ('dull E') - but who am I?
More about it later: below

The spelling and pronunciation rules are not complicated and fairly logical: you can usually tell from the spelling of a word if the vowels are 'long' or 'short' and from hearing a word you can tell how it's written.

maan click to
   hear maan 'long a' - (moon)
man click to hear man 'short a' - (man,male)
mannen click to hear man-nen 'short a' - (men)
Ma click to hear Ma 'long a' - (Mom)
manen click to hear ma-nen 'long a' - (moons)
markten click to hear mark-ten 'short a' - (markets)

Syllables ending in a vowel are called 'open' and syllables ending in a consonant are called 'closed' - hence some call 'long vowels' vrij click to hear ('free') and 'closed vowels' gedekt click to hear 2 3 ('covered')

See also: The Beauty and Logic of Dutch Spelling and Pronunciation

The 'Third E'
But - there are no perfect rules to differentiate the single E of the voiceless, unstressed E click to hear from single E's pronounced as short E click to hear and long E click to hear.
BE-, GE-, TE- and VER- prefixes (word beginnings: be-, ge-, te- and ver- click to hear) have voiceless E, like -EN, -ER and -EL suffixes (word endings -en, -er and -el click to hear) and single E after a consonant at the end of a word is almost always pronounced as voiceless E, but those rules do not cover all cases. And note that one-syllable words don't have suffixes or prefixes.
The only exception I know when single E at the end of a word is not voiceless, unstressed E but 'long' is in the name of the city of Enschede click to hear
A Long Read (with many examples) about 'voiceless, unstressed E' - 2 - 3

The Dutch diphthongs:
AU = OU click to hear EI = IJ click to hear EU click to hear OE click to hear UI click to hear
more about the diphthongs

There is no sound like Dutch EI/IJ in English, but I've been told the sound is "somewhere between English FATE and FIGHT" - hear Dutch feit click to hear ('fact') - or "between MATE and MIGHT" - hear Dutch: mijt click to hear ('parasitic bug') / meid click to hear 2 ('girl' - slang)

(a bird)
- meis
- maïs
click to hear 2
- Thijs
- Thais
click to hear 2
- maai
(I) mow
- mij
click to hear
- haai
- hij
click to hear
A sound very much like Dutch EI/IJ is found in French, in a word like soleil click to hear 2 ('sun') and in the Mediterranean city of Marseille click to hear
Do note the singular exception of the rather common word bijzonder click to hear ('special') ‑>> - its IJ is pronounced as Dutch 'long I' click to hear
'Bijzonder' lijkt de enige uitzondering click to hear 'Bijzonder' seems to be, looks like the only exception

There's no sound like Dutch EU in English. German has a sound like it in some words with Ö or OE like the logician Gödel click to hear - schön click to hear 2 3 or Goethe click to hear
French has a sound like Dutch EU in a word like deux click to
The sound of Dutch OE is often represented by OO in English (and vice versa)
French has a sound like Dutch UI in a word like l'oeil click to hear ('the eye')

Diphthongs are always 'long' and pose no spelling or pronunciation complications

long E click to hear + UW click to hear
(de) eeuw click to hear 2 3 century
(de) leeuw click to hear lion
(de) sneeuw click to hear snow

Dutch IEUW sounds very much like EW in English NEW: Dutch long I (IE) click to hear + Dutch UW: click to hear
nieuw click to hear new
nieuws click to hear news
kieuw click to hear 2 3 gill (fish breathing)
But but when IEU ends in S or R:
Dutch long I (IE) click to hear + Dutch EU click to hear + S or R, with a faint consonant-Y (Dutch J) connecting I and EU:
serieus click to hear serious
religieus click to hear religious
superieur click to hear superior
ingenieur click to hear engineer (French G)

This flashcards exercise is not meant for learning vocabulary. Some of the words are good examples of pronunciation but not in common use. Follow the links ‑>> if you want to know more about a word (totally optional.)
These flashcards exercises have only two-syllable words or phrases of two one-syllable words

Get to Know the Dutch Vowels and Diphthongs

Hear all Dutch Vowels and Diphthongs next to Each Other

Page 2: Exceptions to Phonetic Spelling of Vowels and Diphthongs, Special Cases

Hearing Illusions and The Psychology of Hearing

[an ear]

Dutch Vowel and Diphthong Listening Tests:
Intro 1 - Intro 2 - Test 1 - Test 2 - Test 3 - Test 4

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Gij zult niet stelen click to hear 'Thou shalt not steal'