Learning to lithp in Dut-th
Today is my second lesson.
Now while Afrikaans is considered a language in its own right, rather than a dialect of Dutch, there is a greater divergence within the dialects of the Dutch-speaking zones of the Netherlands, Belgium and Suriname than there is between standard Dutch and standard Afrikaans. So it's going to be a real breeze for me, right? Well, maybe, but there are quite a lot of basic differences one has to get used to at the start.
English, Dutch and Afrikaans are all West Germanic languages but English developed from the Anglo-Frisian branch unlike Afrikaans and Dutch which developed from Lower Franconian. Despite that, some Dutch-speakers will say that the simpler Afrikaans grammar is a bit like English.
Like English, Afrikaans nouns only have one gender whereas Dutch has two, common and neuter. And since gender influences the pronouns referring to a verb and the article used with it, there is a more complicated way of expressing these than in English and Afrikaans.
Notice how the third person plural 'hulle' in Afrikaans differs from the Dutch 'zij'. Several Dutch dialects, however, use 'hullie' and 'zullie'. The word is so different to 'zij' which is also used for the third person singular that it's difficult for me to get used to.
And then there's the pronunciation. The Afrikaans word 'loop' is sort-of pronounced 'loo-ip' whereas the Dutch pronounce it 'lope'. 'Uit', the Afrikaans for 'out' or 'from' is pronounced 'eight'. The Dutch pronounce it as 'out'.
A particular feature of Afrikaans is its use of the double negative, something that is absent from the other West Germanic standard languages. Most people learning Afrikaans find the double negative an odd thing to understand as a double negative in, say, English, tends to indicate a positive. Being used to it, I keep having to stop myself from using it but I get confused about whether I should keep the first negative or the second one.
- English: I do not want to do that.
- Dutch: Ik wil dat niet doen.
- Afrikaans: Ek wil nie dat doen nie.
But, oddly enough, for all the diversity of the Afrikaans vocabulary, it seems that the Dutch use more English words than the Afrikaans do. For example, the Dutch and English use the same words for 'drugs', 'stewardess', 'lunch' and 'barbecue' whereas the Afrikaans words are 'dwelmmiddels', 'lugwaardin', 'middagete' and 'braai'. And then there are words such as 'poes', the Dutch word for 'cat', which has an entirely different meaning in Afrikaans.
So, this learning Dutch lark may not be as simple as I'd hoped. But, it's a small class, just three students and the teacher, so that should help. We're all gay so if I learn to lisp in Dutch, you'll know why.