- Dutch phonology
Dutch grammar series
Dutch has an extensive vowel inventory consisting of 13 plain vowels and four diphthongs. The vowels /eː/, /øː/, and /oː/ are included in the diphthong chart below because many northern dialects realize them as diphthongs, though they behave phonologically like the other simple vowels. When they precede /r/, these vowels are pronounced [ɪː], [ʏː], and [ɔː] respectively. [ɐ] (a near-open central vowel) is an allophone of unstressed /a/ and /ɑ/.
Vowel length is not always considered a distinctive feature in Dutch phonology, because it is usually paired with changes in vowel quality. However, there are some minimal pairs distinguished by length alone. One example occurs in dialects where the opposition between voiced and voiceless fricatives has been neutralised (by devoicing the voiced fricatives); in these dialects, roze [rɔːsə] ("pink") and rosse [rɔsə] ("red-haired") are not only a minimal pair, but could even conceivably lead to misunderstanding if misheard (is someone's hair red or pink?). Compare kroes [krus] ("mug") versus cruise [kruːs] ("cruise").
Dutch Vowels with Example Words Symbol Example Vowel IPA orthography Gloss ɪ kɪp (help·info) kip 'chicken' i bit (help·info) biet 'beetroot' ʏ ɦʏt (help·info) hut 'cabin' yː fyːt (help·info) fuut 'grebe' ɛ bɛt (help·info) bed 'bed' ɛː3 bɑ.ri.ɛː.rə barrière 'barrier' eɪ, eː1 beɪt (help·info)
beet 'bite' ə də (help·info) de 'the' øʏ, øː1 nøʏs (help·info)
neus 'nose' ɑ bɑt (help·info) bad 'bath' aː baːt (help·info) baad 'bathe' ɔ bɔt (help·info) bot 'bone' ɔː3 rɔːzə (help·info) roze 'pink' oʊ, oː1 boʊt (help·info)
boot 'boat' u ɦut (help·info) hoed 'hat' ɛi bɛit (help·info), ɛi (help·info) bijt, ei 'bite', 'egg' œy bœyt (help·info) buit 'booty' ʌu, ɔu2 fʌut (help·info), nʌu (help·info)
fout, nauw 'mistake', 'narrow'
- ^1 Pronounced as long vowels in Belgium, but as narrow closing diphthongs in the Netherlands. The transcription /eɪ øʏ oʊ/ for this diphthongal pronunciation is non-standard and used here for the sake of clarity.
- ^2 Pronounced /ʌu/ in Northern Standard Dutch and /ɔu/ in Standard Belgian Dutch.
- ^3 Only in loanwords, mostly from French.
Labial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal Nasal m n ŋ Plosive voiceless p t k (ʔ) 1 voiced b d (ɡ) 2 Fricative voiceless f s ʃ 3 ç ~ x ~ χ 4 voiced v 5 z 5 ʒ 3 ʝ ~ ɣ 4 ʁ 6 ɦ 5 Trill r 6 ʀ 6 Approximant β̞ ~ ʋ 7 l 8 j w7
- ^1 [ʔ] is not a separate phoneme in Dutch, but is inserted before vowel-initial syllables within words after /a/ and /ə/ and often also at the beginning of a word.
- ^2 /ɡ/ is not a native phoneme of Dutch and only occurs in borrowed words like goal or allophonically when /k/ is voiced due to assimilation, like in zakdoek [zɑɡduk].
- ^3 /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ are not native phonemes of Dutch, and usually occur in borrowed words, like show and bagage ('baggage'). However, /s/ + /j/ phoneme sequences in Dutch are often realized as [ʃ].
- ^4 The sound spelled <ch> is a voiceless velar fricative [x] in Northern Dutch and a voiceless palatal fricative [ç] in Southern Dutch, including all of Dutch-speaking Belgium. In the North /ɣ/ is usually realized as [x] or [χ], whereas in the South the distinction between /ʝ/ and /ç/ has been preserved.
- ^5 In some northern dialects, the voiced fricatives have almost completely merged with the voiceless ones; /ɦ/ is usually realized as [h], /v/ is usually realized as [f], /z/ is usually realized as [s].
- ^6 The realization of /r/ varies considerably from dialect to dialect. In "standard" Dutch, /r/ is realized as the alveolar trill [r]. In some dialects it is realized as the alveolar tap [ɾ], the voiced uvular fricative [ʁ], the uvular trill [ʀ], or as the alveolar approximant [ɹ].
- ^7 The realization of /ʋ/ varies considerably from the Northern to the Southern and Belgium dialects of the Dutch language. In the north of the Netherlands, it is a labiodental approximant: [ʋ]. In the south of the Netherlands, Belgium, as well as in the Hasselt and Maastricht dialects, it is pronounced as a bilabial approximant ([β̞]).
- ^8 The lateral /l/ is velarized postvocalically (and may even be vocalized by certain speakers).
Dutch Consonants with Example Words Symbol Example IPA IPA orthography Gloss p pɛn (help·info) pen 'pen' b bit (help·info) biet 'beetroot' t tɑk (help·info) tak 'branch' d dɑk (help·info) dak 'roof' k kɑt (help·info) kat 'cat' ɡ ɡoːl (help·info) goal 'goal' (sports) m mɛns (help·info) mens 'human being' n nɛk (help·info) nek 'neck' ŋ ɛŋ (help·info) eng 'scary' f fits (help·info) fiets 'bicycle' v oːvən (help·info)¹ oven 'oven' s sɔk (help·info) sok 'sock' z zeːp (help·info) zeep 'soap' ʃ ʃɛf (help·info) chef 'boss, chief' ʒ ʒyːri (help·info) jury 'jury' x ɑxt (help·info) acht 'eight' ç ɑçt (help·info) acht 'eight' ɣ ɣaːn (help·info) gaan 'to go' ʝ ʝaːn (help·info) gaan 'to go' r rɑt (help·info) rat 'rat' ɦ ɦut (help·info) hoed 'hat' ʋ ʋɑŋ (help·info) wang 'cheek' w wɑŋ (help·info) wang 'cheek' j jɑs (help·info) jas 'coat' l lɑnt (help·info) land 'land / country' ʔ bəʔaːmən (help·info)¹ beamen 'to confirm'
- Often the final 'n' is not pronounced.
Dutch language devoices all obstruents at the ends of words (e.g. a final /d/ becomes [t]). This is partly reflected in the spelling, the voiced "z" in plural huizen (help·info) becomes huis (help·info) ('house') in singular. And duiven (help·info) becomes duif (help·info) ('dove'). The other cases, are always written with the voiced consonant, although a devoiced one is actually pronounced, e.g. the voiced "d" in plural baarden ( [baːrdən] (help·info)) is retained in singular spelling baard ('beard'), but pronounced as [baːrt] (help·info), and plural ribben ( [rɪbən] (help·info)) has singular rib ('rib'), pronounced as [rɪp] (help·info).
Because of assimilation, often the initial consonant of the next word is usually also devoiced, e.g. het vee ('the cattle') is /(ɦ)ətfeː/.
Some regions (Amsterdam, Friesland) have almost completely lost the voiced fricatives /v/, /z/, and /ɣ/. However, these phonemes are certainly present in the middle of a word. Compare e.g. logen and loochen [loːɣən] vs. [loːxən]. In the South (i.e. Zeeland, Brabant, and Limburg) and in Flanders the contrast is even greater because the <g> is palatal. ('soft g'): [loːʝən] (help·info) vs. [loːçən] (help·info).
The final 'n' of the plural ending -en is usually not pronounced (as in Afrikaans where it is also dropped in the written language), except in the North East (Low Saxon) and the South West (East and West Flemish) where the ending becomes a syllabic n sound.
When the penultimate syllable is open, stress may fall on any of the last three syllables. When the penultimate syllable is closed, stress falls on either of the last two syllables. While stress is phonemic, minimal pairs are rare. For example vóórkomen (to occur — listen (help·info)) and voorkómen (to prevent — listen (help·info)). This also conveys information about the grammatical behavior of the word: when inflected, vóórkomen separates as kom- ... voor, while in voorkómen the prefix is considered as part of the root and thus remains in place. In composite words, secondary stress is often present.
Marking the stress in written Dutch is optional, never obligatory, but sometimes recommended. The most common practice is to distinguish een (indefinite article, which, as a clitic, bears no stress) from één (the cardinal number one).
The syllable structure of Dutch is (C)(C)(C)V(C)(C)(C)(C). Many words, like in English, begin with three consonants - e.g. straat (help·info) (street). There are words that end in four consonants - e.g. herfst (help·info) (autumn), ergst (help·info) (worst), interessantst (help·info) (most interesting), sterkst (help·info) (strongest) - most of them being adjectives in the superlative form.
Historical sound changes
Dutch (with the exception of the Limburg dialects) did not participate in the second Germanic consonant shift except for the last stage - compare
- /-k-/ > /-x-/: German machen vs. Dutch maken (help·info), English make
- /-p-/ > /-f-/: German Schaf vs. Dutch schaap (help·info), English sheep
- /-t-/ > /-s-/: German Wasser vs. Dutch water (help·info), English water
- /-θ-/ > /-d-/: German das, Dutch dat (help·info) vs. English that
Dutch generalised the fricative variety of Proto-Germanic */ɡ/ as [ɣ] or [ʝ], in contrast with German which generalised the plosive [ɡ], and English which lost the fricative variety through regular sound changes.
Dutch underwent a few changes of its own. For example:
- Words with -old or -olt lost the /l/ in favor of a diphthong as a result of l-vocalization. Compare English old, German alt, Dutch oud (help·info).
- /ft/ changed to /xt/ (North) or /çt/ (South), spelled ⟨cht⟩, but this was later reverted in many words by analogy with other forms. Compare English loft, German Luft, Dutch lucht (pronounced [lʏxt] (help·info) or [lʏçt] (help·info)).
- Proto-Germanic */uː/ turned into /yː/ through palatalization, which, in turn, became the diphthong /œy/ (help·info), spelled ⟨ui⟩. Long */iː/ also diphthongized to /ɛi/ (help·info), spelled ⟨ij⟩.
- Wikipedia:IPA for Dutch and Afrikaans
- Dutch orthography
- Hard and soft G in Dutch
- ^ Article in Onze Taal
- ^ a b Verhoeven (2005:245)
- ^ Pieter van Reenen; Nanette Huijs (2000). "De harde en de zachte g, de spelling gh versus g voor voorklinker in het veertiende-eeuwse Middelnederlands." (in Dutch). Taal en Tongval, 52(Thema nr.), 159-181. http://www.meertens.knaw.nl/taalentongval/artikelen/Reenen_Huijs.pdf. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- ^ a b Booij, Geert. 1999. The Phonology of Dutch. P.8
- ^ Peters (2006:117)
- ^ Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:155)
- ^ Gussenhoven (1992:47)
- ^ The current collection at nl.wiktionary
- Gussenhoven, Carlos (1992), "Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (2): 45–47, doi:10.1017/S002510030000459X
- Gussenhoven, Carlos; Aarts, Flor (1999), "The dialect of Maastricht", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 29 (02): 155–166, doi:10.1017/S0025100300006526
- Peters, Jörg (2006), "The dialect of Hasselt", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36 (1): 117–124, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002428
- Verhoeven, Jo (2005), "Belgian Standard Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 35 (2): 243–247, doi:10.1017/S0025100305002173
- Verhoeven, Jo (2007), "The Belgian Limburg dialect of Hamont", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 37 (2): 219–225, doi:10.1017/S0025100307002940
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