The Dutch language, from its beginning until today
Dutch is attested as a language as early as 500 AD, with the “split-up” that occurred among the Germanic tribal languages. What is known today as the “Old Dutch” is a period of around 600 years between 500 and 1200. The Old Dutch language was still very raw and thoroughly similar to the other West Germanic tribal languages, especially in its beginnings. Following this, is a period of time known as the “Middle Dutch”, which lasted from around 1200 to 1500. This is considered a buffer period for the Dutch language, since it was during these 300 years that the transition between Old Dutch and modern Dutch, which is in use nowadays.
Modern Dutch is heavily influenced by several other languages such as German, French or English. Greek and Latin also have their fair share of loanwords found in the Dutch vocabulary, which, by the way is one of the richest in the World, with almost 350.000 headwords.
Learning Dutch the easy way
Forget those old “Learn Dutch” courses that take you mindlessly through lessons without giving you a few examples to strengthen what you’ve learnt or improve vocabulary. Today’s language learning courses are all about interactivity and natural (instead of enforced) assimilation of new rules, words or expressions. Most of the free Dutch online lessons you can find on the Internet will be based on these two principles actually.
Learning Dutch is considered having roughly the same difficulty one would have learning German, not surprisingly, considering the fact that the two languages share some common roots down the path of history. So if you already know German for example, the same learning principles will apply when you’ll want to take up on learning Dutch.
The most important thing you need to do when you start learning Dutch is improve vocabulary. It’s crucial to start recognizing words and phrases before you start studying grammar or anything else. In order to memorize words faster and more efficiently, you could try out playing some vocabulary games. These games will offer you a fast vocabulary increase and not only help you memorize words, but they will help you memorize them in an efficient, long-lasting manner.
Facing the problems of studying the Dutch language
To many, learning to read and write Dutch is not that difficult but speaking is it near impossible. The pronunciation of words is sometimes completely different from how they are typed and the tonality also varies drastically. If you’ve never heard a native Dutchman talk, I’ll give you an example of what Tom Meyer, a Dutch radio commentator said about his own language: “Dutch isn’t a language; it’s a disease of the throat”.