Learning Dutch
June 12, 2005 3:08 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to take up a more rigorus study of the Dutch language, and am looking for resources to aid me in doing so. Much more inside...

I'm have dual Belgian-American citizenship, as my mother is Belgian, and have spent some portion of practically every summer vacation of my life in Belgium. I was raised more or less bilingually, save when it came to reading and writing. My father and I can hold our own in conversation, but can't write at all and read slowly. I'm going to be taking formal lessons at the Belgian Embassy next year, but until then I'm looking for:

A good book that teaches Dutch Grammar
A Dutch grammar reference
A good Dutch-English/English-Dutch dictionary

Or any book that combines those elements.

In regards to improving my verbal dutch I'm trying not to speak to my parents, except in dutch, and listening to Belgian radio streams. During the hours I listen to it, Belgian radio seems to be mostly music, and mostly english or french language music, save for the hourly news updates. I enjoy talk/news radio (in the vein of NPR/BBC World Service) and would like to find a dutch equivalent. I'm willing to listen to the somewhat goofy and abrasive accents of the Netherlands if necessary.

(On a somewhat tangental topic, is anyone in the MeFi community going to What the Hack?)
posted by phrontist to Education (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can certainly identify with this situation, as I have lived in English and/or Arabic speaking countries most of my life, and only recently started improving my written Dutch.

Although it's not a translation dictionary, the Dikke van Dale is considered the 'reference' dictionary among those of us with goofy and abrasive accents. Definitely useful as it also contains many idioms and slang expressions that can otherwise be confusing. (I don't know how similar these are to their Belgian equivalents though)
This is an English/Dutch Dutch/English dictionary set from the same publisher.

This page looks to be a good list of grammar textbooks including ones for non-native speakers.

The canonical grammar reference (again, in Holland) is the Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst.

I've never listened to any Dutch webcasts myself, but this is a major portal site for Dutch radio.

and tangentially: Yes, I'm going to What The Hack
posted by atrazine at 4:06 PM on June 12, 2005

The Dikke van Dale refrence looks pricey but appealingly thorough. Thanks for the tip.

I was kidding about the accent bit, and have always been suprised how seriously some people take their dialects.

(My tentative plan is to go to WTH to help set up on 24-26. Can't stay for the actual confrence as I'll be in Germany.)
posted by phrontist at 4:46 PM on June 12, 2005

In stead of reading educational texts about grammar, I suggest reading the works of Willem Elsschot. I know I can be shot for being oldskool, but this pre-war Flemish novelist can be admired for his story lines, his dry wit and his elegant style.

For dutch talk radio try http://www.747am.nl Documentaries, talk shows on culture, science and radio drama. One of my favorite background stations. Not formatted to death and if you want to learn the language, you'll appreciate the downtempo of the programs, From the front page there are links to the archives.

Picking up on the accents theme, try (or better: dare) listen to the glorious Radio Bergeijk. Sickest radio (drama)show ever, no doubt. Alcoholism, childrape, pensioners sex farms, fascist theme parks or live masturbation while presenting the nudist tennis championships for girls, it's all there. All this in a fat southern accent (towards Flemish). They've got hundreds (!) of shows in their archive. And yes, of course, it's all government paid public radio. Remember that you're trying to learn Dutch.

ps do like us, score your dictionaries here: http://www.marktplaats.nl
posted by ouke at 6:23 PM on June 12, 2005

The VRT (Flemish public broadcasting) has live streams on digitaleradio.be. Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal is their world service. I'm afraid I can't over any recommendation, I hardly ever listen to the radio.

BTW, to me "den Dikke Van Dale" refers to this version :)
posted by reynaert at 7:12 PM on June 12, 2005

I find that an important element of keeping up a language regimine is having something compelling to read, with a good balance of difficulty and reward. Anne Franks diary was originally written in Dutch, and first published as "Het Achterhuis", (literaly The "rear-house" for the non-nederlanders). Starting with a title much more emotionally loaded than "diary", I found it rewarding to read. I imagine there are other texts originally written in Dutch, that might be fun. Perhaps Van Goghs collected letters to his brother Theo, though I've only ever seen it in French and English.. English version on-line., and some books of his and Theos letters, though I'm not familiar with these collections.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 12:46 AM on June 13, 2005

Turns out my parents have a Dikke Van Dale in storage, so that's covered.

Man, ouke, that radioshow is hilarious. I miss bits of it, but I can follow the storyline and this is some seriously, uh, interesting stuff. The 747AM spot on breasts (see the front page) is also very... dutch.
posted by phrontist at 9:03 AM on June 13, 2005

Oh, and if anybody has any other reccomendations for literature in Dutch, I'd be glad to hear them.
posted by phrontist at 9:03 AM on June 13, 2005

From my partner, who is Belgian:

A friend who immigrated to Belgium from Toronto recommended the course materials from "Initiatief Nederlands" at Universiteit Antwerpen (its a Dutch course for non-natives). They have a grammar book.

In terms of radio, I would recommend radio 1. Most of their programs are a good mixture of music and talking. I would specifically recommend "Voor de dag" (links under programma's), which is broadcasted in the morning and discusses current affairs and also includes quite a bit of music. For just talking, I would recommend listening to "niews and actueel" (news and some more detailed discussions around current affairs). On the website you can listen to recorded versions, so even when you would listen at different times, you can listen to these programs.
posted by Goofyy at 10:47 AM on June 13, 2005

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