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The Netherlands doesn’t occupy much space on the world map, however, what the country lacks for in size it more than makes up for in other areas. Take the Dutch language for example – English contains far more words of Dutch origin than you might think, making ‘Het Nederlands’ (Dutch) a truly international language, albeit of modest proportions!
The majority of Dutch will have already noticed that English words, such as “cookie” and “stoop”, sound suspiciously like their Dutch counterparts, ‘koekje‘ and ‘stoep’. However, this similarity is not accidental – indeed, these particular words were originally derived from Dutch before being gradually integrated into the English language. Many of these so-called ‘leenwoorden’ (‘loan words’) have subsequently been distorted (and are often written in a different way) to make them more easy for English speakers to pronounce, whilst sometimes even the very meaning has changed.
From beaker to tattoo
In addition to cookie and stoop there are plenty of other words that have been borrowed from Dutch to retain virtually the same meaning in English. These include: beaker (beker), buoy (boei), bush (bos), coleslaw (koolsla), easel (ezel), freebooter (vrijbuiter), frolic (vrolijk), iceberg (ijsberg), landscape (landschap), luck (geluk), mart (markt), offal (afval), pickle (pekel), pump (pomp), roster (rooster), skate (schaats), skipper (schipper), still life (stilleven), stove (stoof), tickle (kietelen) and wagon (wagen). However, some words have changed almost unrecognisably over the centuries, such as: bicker (bikken), blare (blaar), bully (boel), dollar (leeuwendaler), dope (doop), elope (ontlopen), galoot (kloot), gin (jenever), hoist (hijsen), leak (laken) and tattoo (taptoe).
The similarities of Dutch and English
Dutch and English are both West Germanic languages, so it’s not surprising that they share so many similarities. Thanks to this reciprocal use of loanwords throughout the ages, the two languages have slowly started to resemble each other … which is possibly why so many Dutch have such an excellent grasp of English!
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, which is specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad.