How come Dutch people are so good at languages?

Sanja   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 14:42 GMT
We also say "Numerous as the Russians" when there is a lot of people somewhere (originally: "Ima ih k'o Rusa.") And when someone smokes a lot, we say that he smokes like a Turk. LOL :)
Damian   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 17:07 GMT
I have found out that the Welsh call the English:

Sais - pronounced ['s-ai-s] similar to saying "sise" in English, but the Welsh put much more stress into their words than do the English, who seem to just glide through their words a lot of the time. Welsh seems to be spoken with much more force and mouth movement than does English.

At uni I was talking with a French girl (of fond memory...yes, she is still alive I'm delighted to say.. just back home in France) and she told me that her observations were that many English people seemed to speak while hardly opening their mouths, especially men for some reason! I then began looking at speaking people's mouths after that to see if I could see this strange phenomenon, but it was only when I spoke with guys from the south of England that I could see some truth in it and that cute mademoiselle knew what she was talking about. I wonder why that is...why they don't open their mouths much I mean, not why she knew what she was talking about. That sounds convoluted but I've no time to alter this post right now.
Lidewij   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 19:45 GMT
I'm Dutch and have therefore attended "Dutch language classes". i don't know how language teaching is in other countries, but i can tell you my experiences. I attended a grammar school in the netherlands and got there lessons in English, German, french, latin and a few years greek, all obligatory for that type of school. At primary school i had started already with some simple english sentences. We were doing conversations about the weather, your family and your hobbies, no grammar was explained. At secondary school I had to learn about 50 words a week for english, besides in the first years a lot of grammar lessons, but also listening to CD's, reading english sentences in class with corrections for wrong pronunciation and tasks to write essays in english. They also learned me how to understand the meaning of a text or a speech without understanding the meaning of all the words. I learned to speak in english without feeling ashamed for making mistakes or speaking with a dutch accent. In the last 3 years I had english literature lessons, so i had to understand also a bit of the english spoken in the era of sheakspeare. I was not taught only to speak british english, but also confronted with scottish, australian, indian, american etc. english. to improve your speaking skills we also had some debates and presenations in english. Al lot of schools have also exchange programs with schools elsewhere in europe, so that you become aware of the need of understanding english if you want to communicate with people abroad. In my exam year I have read several texts from newspapers and youth magazines. Also 6 books, poetry and 1 shakespare book were obliged. Now, at university, I get college in english together with chineze students and a few international students from the rest of the world. Now I can expand my speaking skills. I'm not fluent in english and you're able to detect a dutch accent. I don't understand everything, but enough to read english scientific work. If I would like to speak english like a native, there is still a lot of work to be done.
grt. Lidewij
Damian   Thursday, September 30, 2004, 22:11 GMT

Thanks for your's very nice and well put together in excellent English. How did you interpret the Scottish variety of English?

**Tha' moorns nicht is Friday an' Ah hae a day off frae work, but Ah will still be thrang daein other things an' in the th'forenicht aam gonnae a party.

I've been to the Netherlands twice and loved it. Actually, I quite like the accent of Dutch people when they speak English and I think I can recognise it in much the same way as I can that of a French person speaking English. In between you is Belgium...I wonder if they sound more Dutch or more French when the speak English? That could be quite a wee conundrum as Belgium is bilingual more or less is it not?

**In case you are wondering....I said that tomorrow is Friday and I have a day off from work but I will still be busy doing other things and in the evening I'm going to a party.
Lidewij   Friday, October 01, 2004, 15:10 GMT
to be honest, I don't know if you have to call the flemish accent french or dutch. Definetely not french, flemish people are very proud of their own language. Flemish and Dutch are the same language, but with little difference in pronunciation. flemish is softer, without the sharp ch,g. I can distinguish flemish and dutch people very easliy because of the way they speak out certain vowels. I don't know if I would hear that difference when talking english. It depends on the english speaking skills of that particular person.
You scottish is understandable for me. I can extract from it that you're going to a party on friday instead of working. But please don't ask me to speak with a scotsman who's talking this way! That will be pretty difficult to understand. You always have to adapt yourself to the local dialect of english.
But I wonder, what languages are taught on british/american schools and at what level? French perhaps? Why is it so difficult for british people to learn foreign laguages?
grt Lidewij
Sanja   Friday, October 01, 2004, 15:29 GMT
I think it all depends on the education system. I had to learn a lot of English grammar at school, even in primary school, but we never had to read English literature and didn't have a chance to communicate in English and improve our spoken English skills. That's why most people here don't speak foreign languages, because if you don't practise you forget all those boring grammar rules they make you learn at school. You need a good education system, a lot of studying and a lot of practice in order to learn a foreign language that well. Now everyone has to learn English here, so maybe we will get better at it, but it takes a very long time to become as good as the Dutch or some other Europeans...LOL :)
Andrew   Friday, October 01, 2004, 15:32 GMT
In America the most popular foreign languages have always been French and Spanish, obviously due to our next-door neighbors. Though Spanish has far passed French in popularity due to the large amounts of immigrants we get from Latin America (many say it's become our second national language, like French in Canada and Belgium), and the fact that only Quebec speaks French in Canada, and while it's more polite to learn some of the local tongue if you're going there, a lot of people there also speak English. In Latin America, meanwhile, good command of English is not too often guaranteed.
Mxsmanic   Friday, October 01, 2004, 17:48 GMT
Speaking English requires far less articulatory tension and rounding of the lips than speaking French, and this is why English speakers seem to move their mouths less when speaking as compared to French speakers. It's not an illusion.
Nico   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 04:29 GMT
I completely agree with Mxsmanic. The most common vowel (by far) in English is the famous schwa (all unstressed vowels can be assimilated to one). And you know that the schwa is the sound of the completely relaxed mouth, when you don't articulate at all and simply breathe out. So yes, English is the language that requires less tension in the mouth, less 'muscle effort'.
Adam   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 09:25 GMT
Damian Thursday, September 30, 2004, 07:57 GMT
To "Welsh" means running away from a debt. It can also be spelt "Welch" but only rarely. It's historical when Wales was separate from the ancient kingdoms of England and Offa, King of Mercia (much of present day western England bordering Wales) built a dyke in the 8th century (still there today) as a defence against the Welsh, who used to storm the borders and raid the English and steal from them then run back into Wales. Welshmen are called Taffy, just as Scots are called Jock. It's from those early days and the border raids the English created the verse:
Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief
Taffy came to my house and stold a piece of beef

I don't know if the Welsh have a nickname (offensive or otherwise) for the English, in the same way as we use Sassenach. I will try and check it out.
The Welsh call the English "Sais", singular and plural, which is Welsh for "Saxon", in the same way that "Sassenach" is Scottish Gaelic for "Saxon."
Kees   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 14:20 GMT
Spain (Spanish) is not equal to Netherlands ( Dutch) , Adam.
nic   Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 09:19 GMT

"""the French call lice "Spaniards"; """, as a french person, i have never heard that.
Bart (From the Netherlands)   Thursday, October 07, 2004, 08:56 GMT
Are there any questions about holland. I can answer them
Destinie   Thursday, October 07, 2004, 12:49 GMT
Hello am doing a project on holland and I could use some help on finding info. am from the USA
Luhan   Thursday, October 07, 2004, 15:29 GMT
Hiya all! I am an Afrikaans speaker (South Africa) but been living in Ireland for 4 years now. Although I know the history between Afrikaans and Dutch I never really talked face to face to a Dutch person untill I visited Amsterdam a few weeks ago. It was really amazing to know you are in a foreign country and can actually understand the Dutch people! It was like instantly learning a foreign language! Although it wasnt always that easy to follow the Dutch language I could understand 90% of it and when talking slow and clear we could have a normal conversation with each other! The Dutch are such a great bunch of people, so I'm happy to call my ancestors Dutch although by a few generations! I found Flemish (Belguim) even easier to understand. xxxx