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German and Dutch -- False Friends?
snoopy: woodstock "Dear LJ"
schnuffichen wrote in nederlandsetaal
shear_logic just posted a cool link to a Dutch grammar page which reminded me that I wanted to ask...

It probably sounds silly but... are any of you rather competent in Dutch and German? I know people, especially if they're not native in one of them, tend to overemphasize their similarity but, well, they are closely related.
I was wondering if the differences are mainly about their phonology and of semantics/pragmatics...

Are there striking differences in terms of syntax? I mean, from what I can tell, they both use the same basic word order and all that. They seem to have the same tenses, though I'm not sure about their use.

Are there any things I (as a native German) should look out for when learning Dutch?

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I'm not particularly fluent in either, but learned German before starting to learn Dutch, so may be able to make some relevant comments.

Final question:

1. There are only two genders in Dutch, a combined masculine/feminine and neuter.
2. The pronouns are radically different when it comes to the second person, both informal and formal.
3. Plurals are simpler - the most common end in -en; but they can be weird; for example, whereas in German, Kind -> Kinder, in Dutch, kind -> kinderen (to me it looks like German plural + Dutch plural: what in my family we call a "woodlicence" plural, from when my younger daughter, as a small child, produced this as the plural of "woodlouse" by putting together all possible plural formations).

4. Word order rules, as far as I can tell, are the same.

5. I think that strong verbs in German are also strong verbs in Dutch, but I'm not sure, and I'm also not sure if they follow the same pattern. This is one of the areas where I have a distinct feel of Dutch being intermediate between German and English.

6. I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that Dutch pronunciation was as simple as German pronunciation. I can produce, but not hear, the difference between Dutch "v" and "w", and "ch" and "g".

Oooh, that's quite a list - thank you!

1) Haha, that can only be good and make things easier, really! ;)
3) Yay, another thing that's easier! Though I love the whole kinderen = Dutch + German plural. ;)
5) Oi... so it seems like I need to look up what exactly strong verbs are... It's basically just regular vs. irregular, right?
6) Yeah... I remember my Canadian phonetics prof trying to make the sounds and she was like "You should hear them, you're German!" And I just shrugged "Um... no idea." ;)

When I was studying linguistics, we simply didn't use "regular" and "irregular" when talking about weak and strong verbs, even in English - we kept the terms for the way verbs behaved in the present - "I see, you see, he/she sees" versus "I am, you are, he/she is". Weak verbs are the ones where you just stick on an ending for the simple past and the past participle (play, played, played); strong verbs are the ones where the vowel changes, sometimes with an ending change (begin, began, begun; forget, forgot, forgotten) and variants on them - in English, they can vary a lot historically; for example, in the 16th century it was "forgot", not "forgotten" as often as not.

There are so many false friends between German and Dutch, there's a book. :) (I haven't read it, but I skimmed through it in a bookstore the other day. It seemed amusing.)

I'm afraid I can't fully answer your questions as I'm not nearly fluent enough in German, but I can think of a couple of differences between the two languages:

- The biggest one is that Dutch no longer uses cases like German does, bar some archaic expressions. We still say, for example, "de heer des huizes" instead of "de heer van het huis".

- There is in fact a very slight difference in word order. Compare "ich denke nicht, dass er das sehen kann" with "ik denk niet dat hij dat kan zien".

- Dimunitives are used much more frequently in Dutch than in, well, any language really. The difference in meaning between a normal noun and its dimunitive form is sometimes difficult to explain, and there are even some words that exist only as a dimunitive (meisje, sprookje, zeepaardje).

Ooo, thankies for that book! My friends are always looking for smarty books to give to me, so this is great ;)
(And, ahum, a good encouragement for me to improve my Dutch)

Yay, no cases is definitely a good thing. ;) Really, I'm so glad about being native German... all the big "important" languages don't have them and are so much easier to learn for me. ;)

Thanks for the word order thing! Do you happen to know something about linguistics and thus about theoretical syntax? If so, do you know where the difference is in terms of tree structure? (If not, don't worry, I'm just a nerd...)

And lol! I looove diminutives! That's gonna be fun! :D

My German teacher in middle school would sometimes quiz my class by handing out blank sheets of paper and giving us the simple instruction: "write down all cases". One of my friends was a native German speaker and even she did badly on these tests. :(

I know next to nothing about linguistics unfortunately! Some googling revealed that the Dutch word order is referred to as "red" and the German one as "green", but I don't have the foggiest idea why they're called that. This site gives another example of both: "ich finde daß dies erklärt werden soll" vs "ik vind dat dit moet worden uitgelegd". It also shows that there's a lot of regional variance in word order within the Netherlands and Belgium.

I'm sorry I can't be of any more help! :x

Interesting - thanks!

Sorry for commenting on a bit of an old post, but I studied Linguistics in the Netherlands (I went into AI this September but am still hanging around in the Linguistics department ^-^). I know of some linguistics books about Dutch, but they're in Dutch... is that okay?

I was also told that Dutch is actually more like an SOV language instead of SVO like English, which is the reason all the "main verbs" are at the end of the sentence when you have many verbs in a sentence (except for hebben/zijn and such, which are after the subject), for example in "Ik had haar helemaal niet gezien moeten hebben."
In "bijzinnen" (subordinate clauses) all the verbs move to the back of the sentence, which was the main reason people thought Dutch was more an SOV than an SVO language. For example "Ik wist niet dat hij daar helemaal niets van gezien had moeten hebben."
There was also a special name for it as it's not a true SOV language like Japanese, which is V2 word order.
There are some differences with German word order, the Wikipedia page does have some examples :)
If you want I can look up trees for Dutch sentences we did in class.

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