Just what is it that makes the Dutch language so interesting?

Posted on 15/06/2016

We think – and hope you’ll agree – that the Dutch language comes with a few quirks that make learning it, and using it in a work setting, quite a lot of fun. But we’re obviously going to be biased, so we’ve decided to compile a few of the most interesting things about the Dutch language to help you to make your mind up for yourself. 

Even before you started learning it, you’ll have already spoken Dutch

There’s a wide array of words in the English language that have a Dutch origin – many more than you may think. For example, our favourite – not just our favourite word, but our favourite thing ever – ‘snack’ may have descended from the Middle Dutch word snakken.

Many other familiar English words, from ‘iceberg’ (ijsberg) and ‘drug’ (droge-vate) to ‘aloof’ (lof), are based on elements of the Dutch language through various time periods.

Speaking of time periods, the Dutch language has been around for quite some time...

The first words written in Dutch are over 14 centuries old

Until recently, it was thought that the first words written in Dutch were in a love poem written to test a 12th-century writing implement.

We’ll spare you the sappiness; the actual oldest piece of Dutch writing is either a book on Salic Law that dates back to the sixth century, or the Bergakker inscription, an inscription found on a metal mount for a sword scabbard that is thought to be from the fifth century.

The Dutch language has come a long way since then, of course. You could say the same thing about the length of some Dutch words...

A very capable language indeed

Dutch is a language that is capable of compounding nouns – which is essentially making one monstrous word out of several singular words. 

Meervoudigepersoonlijkheidsstoornis, or ‘multiple personality disorder’, is an excellent example of a Dutch compound word, although there are certainly many more where that one came from.

Particular enthusiasts of Dutch compounded words will also be delighted to learn the likes of kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamhedenplan (preparation activities for a children’s carnival procession) and the groundbreaking hottentottententententoonstellingsterrein (exhibition ground for Hottentot tents).

We just hope that you will never have to say any of these terms in your new Dutch speaking job, which you could very well obtain with our help. But hey - that may be only a minor sacrifice for your dream Dutch speaking role.