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Listen to Dutch - Vowels Explained - Learn A Few Words - 'Holland' and 'The Netherlands'

Listen to Dutch
'Holland,' 'Nederland' and 'The Netherlands'
Just listen to the sounds of Dutch - don't worry about a thing - much will be explained in the course of the lessons.

Henk Marsman: Herinnering aan Holland (Remembering Holland) (1936)
click to hear
Denkend aan Holland zie ik brede rivieren traag door oneindig laagland gaan,
When I think of Holland I see wide rivers flow slowly in boundless lowlands,
click to hear
Rijen ondenkbaar ijle populieren als hoge pluimen aan de einder staan;
Rows of improbably thin poplars stand like high plumes at the horizon;
click to hear
En in de geweldige ruimte verzonken de boerderijen verspreid door het land,
And lost in the enormous space farms dotting the land,
click to hear
Boomgroepen, dorpen, geknotte torens, kerken en olmen in een groots verband,
Clumps of trees, villages, truncated towers, churches and elm trees in a grand union,
click to hear
De lucht hangt er laag en de zon wordt er langzaam in grijze veelkleurige dampen gesmoord,
The sky is low and slowly the sun is smothered in a multicolored grey haze,
click to hear
En in alle gewesten wordt de stem van het water met zijn eeuwige rampen gevreesd en gehoord.
And in all parts the voice of water is heard and feared, spelling disaster eternally.
click to hear
(The complete poem)

Is it too fast? Hear some SLOW DUTCH.
[a ship on a river]


Klinkers click to hear ('vowels'): a, e, i, o, u - singular: klinker click to hear
Medeklinkers click to hear ('consonants'): b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z - singular: medeklinker click to hear

Most of the consonants in Dutch sound very similar to English consonants; the few exceptions will be dealt with in lesson 8
Some of the words in the pronunciation examples are not very common and translations may lack precision - they're just to give you an idea of what the words mean. The pronunciation examples are not meant as vocabulary to be learned.

Dutch vowels not always represent the same sounds as in English; for instance, English HANK sounds like Dutch HENK click to hear (a boys' name), English CASEY like Dutch KEESSIE click to hear (a boys' nickname) and English HOOT like Dutch HOED click to hear (hat).
Dutch vowels come in two varieties, called 'short' or 'long,' though it's actually more a difference in tone. A double vowel is always long; a single vowel can be long or short - the not very difficult rule will be explained in lesson 3
Today's lesson is just about getting to know some of the vowel sounds of Dutch - listen to how I say it and try to say it yourself: record how you say it and compare with how I say it, or better, listen and speak together with a friend, rate each other's efforts (isn't that a nice way to spend time?)
I am a native speaker of Dutch, not of English: my understanding of English sounds is not perfect. Listen to how I say the Dutch words - the explanations of 'like X in Y' are less important, just hints to help you.

A-short click to hear the tone of A in English STAR but shorter - hear Dutch star click to hear ('inflexible')
al as man vak click to hear
(already - ashes/axis - man (human male) - bin, area/profession)
lat tal pad click to hear
(slat - number - path/toad)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2
A-long click to hear
like A in CHICAGO - hear Dutch Kaag click to hear (a village)
Hear English 'Chicago' by Robert Johnson - Paul Butterfield - Barry Goldberg
aal aas maan vaak click to hear
(eel - ace/carrion - moon - often)
laat la taal paden click to hear
(late - drawer - language - paths)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2
E-short click to hear like E in TEST - hear Dutch test click to hear (test)
like A in FAT - hear Dutch vet click to hear (fat)
er en bed les click to hear
(there - and - bed - lesson)
bed tel ren ben her- click to hear
(bed - count - (I) run - (I) am - re-)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2
E-long click to hear like A in MALE - hear Dutch meel click to hear ('flour')
eer een beet lees click to hear
(honor - a, 1 - bite - (I) read)
deel leed been veel click to hear (part - suffering - leg - much, many)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2
E-voiceless click to hear UH, like A in ALIVE - 'voiceless, unstressed E' is also called the 'schwa' - more about it in lesson4
de te ze me click to hear
(the - too - she/they - me)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2
I-short click to hear like I in DIM
is bit lik kip click to hear
(is - bit (in horse mouth) - lick, lap - chicken)
ik pit lid pillen click to hear
(I - stone (of fruit) - member - pillen)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2
I-long click to hear (often written as IE) - like EE in SEE
Ier kien die spier click to hear 2
(Irishman - smart (slangy) - that, those - muscle)
stier piek hiel vlies click to hear
(bull - peak - heel - film, fleece, membrane)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2
O-short click to hear the tone of A in HALL but shorter - hear Dutch hol click to hear ('lair')
rok lot ton click to hear
(skirt - lottery ticket/fate - barrel)
kok bon hor rot click to hear
(cook - coupon - bug screen - rotten, off, spoiled)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2
O-long click to hear like O in English GO
rook loot toon click to hear
(smoke - shoot (growth) - tone)
kook boon hoor rood click to hear
(do cook - bean - hear - red)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2
U-short click to hear UH, like A in ALIVE (sounds the same as 'voiceless E')
fut zucht turf stuk click to hear
('energy' - sigh - peat - piece/broken)
dun put mug lukken click to hear
(thin - well - mosquito - to succeed, be successful)
Many More Examples: 1  -  2  -  3
U-long click to hear
There is no sound in English like Dutch 'long U,' but is is found in French, like in cru or dur click to hear and in German, like in hügel and muesli click to hear
duur fuut unie fusie click to hear 2
(expensive - a bird - union - fusion) .
Many More Examples: 1  -  2  -  3
Find many more examples of these sounds on the Dutch Pronunciation Reference page
Hear all the different Dutch vowels (and diphthongs) next to each other: Vowel and Diphthong Sounds Compared
In the next lesson is a chapter about problems with sounds you're not familiar with

Recap: The Dutch Vowels

short A click to hear
long A click to hear
short E click to hear
long E click to hear
'voiceless E'
('schwa') 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


mes click to hear
vork click to hear
lepel click to hear
tafel click to hear
bord click to hear
kopje click to hear
glas click to hear
[a bottle of water]
een flesje water click to hear
[a cup of tea]
een kopje thee click to hear
[a mug of milk]
een beker melk click to hear >>
[a glass of orange juice]
een glas sinaasappelsap click to hear - 2
[a cup of coffee]
een kopje koffie click to hear
[a spooonful of sugar over a glass]
suiker click to hear
[a bowl of whipped cream, with whisk and spoon]
slagroom click to hear - 2
[a spoonful of whipped cream about to be added to a cup of coffee]
slagroom op de koffie click to hear - 2
The UI of suiker will be explained in the next lesson.
'Cream' for coffee is called melk click to hear ('milk'); otherwise, 'cream' is room click to hear
- more food and drinks words

'Holland,' 'Nederland' and 'The Netherlands'

In English, the common name for my country is 'Holland,' but when speaking Dutch, most people say Nederland click to hear. Generally, Holland click to hear 2 in Dutch means the Western part of the country, North of the rivers delta, at the sea, the present provinces of 'Noord Holland' click to hear 2 and 'Zuid Holland' click to hear 2 (North and South) - map. In the other parts of the country the people may say that's where the rulers live, and the poet may use it for the imagined country. So when speaking Dutch avoid saying 'Holland,' and say 'Nederland' click to hear 2 instead. It's a bit like some people say 'England' when they mean Great Britain, the UK, or 'America' when they're talking about the US.
Some Dutchmen are not happy with the English usage of 'Holland' and would prefer the somewhat official 'The Netherlands.' I have to admit that I avoid saying 'Holland' when talking about the East, North or South of the country ('native language interference.') To me, it sounds a little funny. Still, I think it's all right to call the country 'Holland' when speaking English. 'The Netherlands' is too official, bookish. In French, you can say 'Les Pays-Bas' and in German you could say 'Die Niederlände' but in common conversation Frenchmen and Germans will say 'La Hollande' or 'Holland.' Stating that it's incorrect to say 'Holland' in English seems to imply that 99.99% of English words are 'wrong.'
So - don't say 'Holland' when speaking Dutch. You can say 'The Netherlands' as often as you like - just don't tell me and others that it's wrong say 'Holland' in English.
Hollandse Kost click to hear Dutch Home Cooking ‑>> Hollandse Nieuwe click to hear the newly caught, fresh herring of early in the season Ik ben een Hollandse jongen click to hear I'm a Dutch boy (not afraid of a little rain)
- Maps of The Netherlands - essays - >>
[A machine that states it was made in 'Utrecht, Holland'] [Utrecht, Holland]
To Dutchmen, things like 'Utrecht, Holland' look a little weird

[T-shirt saying 'Groningen, Holland']
Groningen, Holland

Thank you Billy Eric and Daniel Baskin for feedback that improved this page.

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