If you’re from an English speaking country, travelling to The Netherlands can be daunting. Don’t worry. There are many languages spoken in The Netherlands. Most other countries in the world ‘force’ (in a good way) their children to speak more than one language. The same is the case when it comes to The Netherlands. If you don’t know what languages we speak in The Netherlands and are worried, you should keep reading.
Official Languages Of The Netherlands
Our official languages within The Netherlands (not the Kingdom of The Netherlands) are Dutch and Frisian. Frisian is spoken in the province of Friesland and is one of their official languages besides Dutch. Dutch is the official language for the rest of The Netherlands.
Dialects In The Netherlands
The Dutch language has many variations and dialects. People are always amazed when I tell them that a ten-minute drive will land me in another dialect. Because The Netherlands has so many dialects and variations, it’s unknown how many dialects there are. But it is expected that there are roughly 100- 200 dialects in The Netherlands.
The most standard Dutch is called ‘Algemeen Nederlands’, meaning general Dutch. This is the Dutch you will hear on television, radio, read in papers, etc.
Besides that, there are more general dialects, such as Zeeuws (in the province of Zeeland) or Limburgs (in Limburg). But, within those broad dialects, there are massive differences within cities and regions as well. Those differences are so significant that these are then again divided into different dialects.
Westfries is another one, and the dialect that I speak and understand. While the name has Fries in it, the area where Westfries is spoken is ‘De Kop van Noord-Holland‘ (top of Noord-Holland) and is not in Friesland. In Groningen, they speak ‘Gronings’, in Drenthe ‘Drents, in Noord-Brabant ‘Brabants, and so on.
These dialects aren’t simply some words that are different. The sentences change, the tones, the words, etc. It creates a whole other language.
Foreign Languages Spoken In The Netherlands
Besides Dutch, almost everyone knows English in The Netherlands. We start learning English at primary school, but some people aren’t confident in speaking English, but they will know the basics. Older people don’t always understand English, but they will ask someone else to help you out if you ask a question.
In general, when in high school, they will teach German and/or French anywhere from two years to five or six years. The exact years depend on the high school level, but we are not going further into this right now. You can also choose additional languages such as Turkish, Frisian, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, etc.
The students on the highest level of high school in The Netherlands have to study Latin and Greek. So, if you are planning to visit The Netherlands and worry about getting around, don’t worry: We speak Dutch and English for sure. Many people can also understand German, but speaking German is not something that most of us know.
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Have you travelled to The Netherlands already? If so, did you have any trouble with the communication? If you are travelling to The Netherlands soon and were worried about a language barrier, I hope I eased your mind a little bit with this languages in The Netherlands article. Share this post!