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Accents

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Accents

Postby Smellvin » January 9th, 2007, 7:01 pm

How varied are Dutch accents (within the Netherlands)?  Is there a more standard accent that a majority of people use?

Also, being a native English speaker from the US, would I be able to master the accent relatively easy?  It seems that foreigners in the US rarely fully master the US neutral accent and always sound, at least to some extent, foreign.  My goal is to one day speak Dutch well enough to fool a Dutchman into thinking I am his compatriot.  Is this a reasonable goal?

Failing that, since few foreigners learn Dutch, how well can Dutch people pick up on where you're from based on your accent?  I spent time in South America and since no one I met had ever heard an American speaking Spanish, they couldn't place where I was from; they just said I sounded "different."  Is Dutch the same way?
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Postby Ome Jorge » January 9th, 2007, 9:14 pm

Hi Smellvin,

What can I say about your goal? The chances of fooling a dutchman are very, VERY small, whether you speak the language or not ... :wink:

Seriously speaking, I would suggest that you place your aim a little bit lower. If you are in good circumstances like being in a dutch environment where the only language you hear and speak is 24/24 and 7/7 dutch, then still chances are quite low. Though, it is not impossible. I suggest you to just learn it, speak with dutch and flemish people and you'll find out how nice they are... :D. And make sure that learning dutch is having fun. Without that, it gets even harder to learn it.

There is a variety of accents in the Netherlands. A well trained ear can hear the difference between the spoken language from Den Haag, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The distance between these cities is more or less 40 miles. Then there is the southern part of the country where people have a different accent then in the northern part of the country.

The most commonly used type of dutch is the Polderdutch. You can find articles in English and audio here.

It is possible to point out whether a dutch speaking person is from Germany, France or the UK. People from the States as well have a typical accent. I know this Canadian woman and she has been living in the Netherlands for about twenty years now. It is still very obvious that she is from the US or Canada ... After one sentence I could tell ... :lol:  :mrgreen:  


I am a native speaker and I hope non native speakers will give their reaction as well.
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Postby Smellvin » January 9th, 2007, 10:10 pm

Thanks for such a complete answer, Ome Jorge.  You seem to be far more helpful than the other Ome I know -- Ome Henk.
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Postby Quetzal » January 9th, 2007, 10:41 pm

Speaking for Flanders... hmmm. My father has French as native language, but he did his university studies in Dutch (obviously he had had classes in Dutch for many years in school before that), married a Fleming, has lived in Flanders ever since... and yeah, his Dutch is perfect, not a trace of an accent. It's not entirely impossible if you speak hardly anything else for like a decade, I guess.

But yeah, for you you should probably set your ambitions a bit lower as Jorge said. And I, too, know native English-speaking people who've been here for decades and still have a very obvious accent.
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Postby Jeff » January 10th, 2007, 1:34 am

Ome Jorge, well I can definetly hear the differance between the sounds of the ABN and Polderdutch in as far as the ij is concerned. But are both correct?

Insofar as 'fooling' a native speaker odds arn't in your favor. I'll be happy to just being understood. :)
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Postby Roland » January 10th, 2007, 2:52 am

Of course learning to speak without a foreign accent is possible but remember that native speakers will most likely keep hearing slight differences you cannot hear yourself. Then again, with a lot of practice by listening to recordings of your own voice and with native speakers correcting any deviating pronunciation you might polish away all traces. Waar een wil is, is een weg. Where there is a will there is a way. Just don't forget the main function of any language is communication. Don't be too hard on yourself and let it be fun rather than frustrating. :)
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Postby Marco » January 10th, 2007, 12:31 pm

Hi there!

I'm from the eastern part of the country and I am familiar with the accents/dialects of the Achterhoek and the Liemers. Living close to Arnhem, I have been influenced by that accent as well. For me it's easy to pick out "Achterhoekers" among a crowd, since they have this sort of "lid" on their pronunciation, I don't really know how to explain it, it sounds somewhat heavier / blacker than AN. [ABN doesn't exist anymore, since the term is considered racist] If you're familiar with the 'heavy' pronunciation Slavonic speakers have, then you know what I mean.

As for non-native speakers of Dutch, there's only one that's been able to trick me, and that is Victoria Koblenko. She knows the language better than me! As for Marco Borsato, I thought that at first he only knew Italian, but his Dutch is flawless as well.
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Postby yessamaca » January 10th, 2007, 1:31 pm

Well, I've only been here for about 5 months and I can recognize a difference in regional accents.  I do ok understanding someone from the south, where we live, but have a great deal of difficulty when the speaker is from the north.  It is amazing to me that accents change so much within such a small space.

Now, about a native English speaker speaking Dutch without any trace of an accent.  That is pretty much impossible.  A little baby has the potential to make any sound of any language.  As the child gets older he will only hear the sounds of his own language being spoken and will lose the ability to make the other sounds.  The older the child gets, the less likely it is that he will be able to learn to make some of those other sounds.  I have no idea how to even begin to make the Dutch r.  My husband started learning English 15-20 years ago.  He is fluent in English but still has a noticeable accent.  Having an accent isn't a bad thing though...chicks dig accents!  My man loves my American sounding g.  Although, I haven't figured out if that's sweet or patronizing.    :P

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Postby Roland » January 10th, 2007, 2:09 pm

yessamaca wrote:Now, about a native English speaker speaking Dutch without any trace of an accent.  That is pretty much impossible. A little baby has the potential to make any sound of any language.  As the child gets older he will only hear the sounds of his own language being spoken and will lose the ability to make the other sounds.  The older the child gets, the less likely it is that he will be able to learn to make some of those other sounds.  I have no idea how to even begin to make the Dutch r.

There are three ways of pronouncing the 'r', excluding the "American r" at the end of a word. You can say it by vibrating the tip of the tongue (the easiest way I think), by vibrating the back of the tongue (little harder but still doable) and by partly using the throat (scraping, just like the French do). The last one can be heard in Limburg. I think you should learn the first version since it is most commonly used. Just practice the sound for some time before you start using it in words. I think it is not too hard to master it :).

yessamaca wrote:My husband started learning English 15-20 years ago.  He is fluent in English but still has a noticeable accent.  Having an accent isn't a bad thing though...chicks dig accents!  My man loves my American sounding g.  Although, I haven't figured out if that's sweet or patronizing.

Most Dutch people have this typical accent that you can detect quite easily anywhere on the planet :D. My father (60) has a terrible accent though his English is fluent (he works for an American company). I think you are right about the age where you start to learn a language when it comes to accents. I was not raised bilingual, however English was always there, on tv, abroad or at home when my father brought along some of his American colleagues for dinner (which makes me remember my astonishment while watching Americans really enjoy Dutch food like boerenkool or spruitjes; they always requested it which was unfortunate for me because I hate Dutch cooking :D). As a result I am able to imitate an American accent quite well. Americans often think I am from a place called Holland somewhere in the States and they are really surprised when I say I mean Holland in Europe. When the conversation lasts long enough though they usually find out because there are always some words or some sentences that pop up in my mind too slowly :cry: ;). I think that no matter how well you master a foreign language it never gets as good as your native language. That is also the reason why my future children will start to learn other languages as soon as possible, rather than at the age of say 10 like it is now in Dutch schools. The early brain is so easily trained that to me it is almost a crime when keeping children away from early lessons. If only my parents put me on Chinese lessons when I was a kid...
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Postby Vicky » January 10th, 2007, 5:15 pm

I also agree that the earlier you start with a foreign language the better. When my daughter was almost 5 I left her knowing 3-5 Dutch words with her grandparents in The Netherlands for the entire summer (3,5 months). I was calling her each week and after 5-6 weeks I started noticing that she is switching to Dutch while speaking to me and sometimes asked me what I 've said. By the end of her stay in NL I could speak only Dutch to her. When she came back I was amazed with her perfect Dutch especially with it sound. My family was shocked because they couldn't communicate with her anymore. For about 3-4 weeks I had to be her interpreter to my family. Slowly she started speaking Russian because she was back to school but Kyrgyz, her first language (my native language and the one she learnt to speak first) was lost, better to say replaced by Dutch. Of course in a year time without speaking Dutch she lost it again. I hope it is sitting somewhere in her memory and will return quickly as soon as she is in the language environment. But now I'm afraid she won't be able to speak pure/accentless Dutch anymore.
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Postby Jeff » January 10th, 2007, 8:06 pm

There are three ways of pronouncing the 'r', excluding the "American r" at the end of a word. You can say it by vibrating the tip of the tongue (the easiest way I think), by vibrating the back of the tongue (little harder but still doable) and by partly using the throat (scraping, just like the French do). The last one can be heard in Limburg. I think you should learn the first version since it is most commonly used. Just practice the sound for some time before you start using it in words. I think it is not too hard to master it :).

Roland would you happen to have some examples of the first two 'r's as I can trill quite easily. Dunno if my non-trilled 'r' is tip or back of tounge though.

ABN is considered racist? Probably off topic (lol) but why?
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Postby Marco » January 10th, 2007, 8:48 pm

The B stands for Beschaafd, which means 'civilised'.

If someone hasn't master Dutch entirely, this would then imply that he or she isn't civilised.

I believe that was the story behind it.  :)
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Postby Jeff » January 10th, 2007, 9:23 pm

Ahh, well I'm not civilized so I won't take offense. Does make sense though as it could be considered an insult.
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Postby Ome Jorge » January 10th, 2007, 9:30 pm

@ Jeff,

What is considered wrong or right in the Polderdutch discussion depends on your own opinion. The link I gave earlier in this topic leads to a discussion and articles about this subject. Personally I think an "ei" should definitely not be an "AAAAAAAI". A small "ai"tje however does not bother me. (Ofcourse you understand that I speak with an "ai"tje as well  :eek:  :eek: )

The "hun zeggers" are much more annoying to me. And believe me, we have a lot of them. They say like: "Ik drink wijn en hun drinken bier." Literally translated, " I drink wine, and their drink beer".

I tried to record some R's for you.

[emff]http://www.t3rbo.com/audio/audio/6de1b31d292667118a8a53e7c5b06650/BiGR.mp3[/emff]  RRRRRRR   [edit:als het goed is, zijn de problemen nu opgelost]
Last edited by Ome Jorge on January 21st, 2007, 1:28 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Jeff » January 10th, 2007, 10:05 pm

Hehe Ome Jorge, well I don't have an opinion one way or the other. Just trying to learn the 'correct' way which may not be the most popular.  Definetly a good link for some in depth discussions on the lowering of the dipthongs, took ya'll long enough...<G>.

Thanks for the rrr's :)


grrr...won't play at all, what am i doing wrong?
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