Pronunciation & spelling
ABC in Dutch
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
- Please note that the Dutch ‘a’, ‘e’ and ‘i’ are pronounced quite different from the English way …
- The ‘y’ is a bit confusing in Dutch. The sound we use when spelling ‘y’ is the way ‘ei’ and ‘ij’ are pronounced in words like ‘tijd’ and ‘leiden'(sounds the same as ‘lijden’). The ‘y’ in ‘imported’ words like ‘gymnastiek’ or ‘cylinder’ is the same sound as the Dutch ‘i’or ‘ie’ in ‘real Dutch’ words.
- When spelling words in Dutch, it is common to mention ‘y’ as’Griekse y’, ‘ij’ as ‘lange ij’ and ‘ei’ as ‘korte ei’.
About sounds in Dutch
- Vowels are represented by the way they are usualy written. The sound written as ‘a’, for example, represents the sound of the dark and short version of this vowel (like in man) and ‘aa’ represents the clear and longer version (like in maan). Nevertheless the ‘aa’ sound is written as a singel a when it stands at the end of a word or syllable (like in ma-nen). This works for all vowels except the e at theend of a word (see ‘:’ for the pronounciation of a single e).
To make this as clear as possible, I write it like this:
- ‘a’ – this is the representation of the sound
- (‘aa’: …) means that sometimes a singel [a] is pronounced as ‘aa’
- [a] – means that sometimes the sound ‘aa’ is written as a single a
- To prevent the dark/short version of a vowel (like man) from arriving at the end of a syllable (especially in plurals), the consonant that follows mostly has to be doubled. So the plural of man is not manen (syllables would be ma-nen, so the a would become a clear/long sound) but mannen (syllables are man-nen).