Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Pronunciation tip in Dutch: oo and oe

Something tickled me the other day when a Dutch-speaking colleague wrote to me (in a friendly way, in English), the word "Noop".

It took me a moment and a quick check of the context to realise this was meant to be read as 'Nope', which got me thinking about pronunciation.

Voorzichtig English speakers!
English shares many similar sounds with Dutch but of course when language was written down a long time ago there was no international writing conventions and so sounds were captured differently from country to country (or region to region). Which brings us to our little oo issue.

*OO* in Dutch is pronounced in a different way than in English.
See the example of telephone or telefoon. This 'phone' sounds almost the same as 'foon' in Dutch (especially with my accent). Which is why my colleague wrote phonetically what she heard: 'noop'.

So does Dutch have an 'ooooo' sound like in the English 'toot'?

Yes it does but this is written 'oe'. See for example 'oefening' (pronounced like 'oofening').

Dutch OO is English O*E (telefoon -> telephone)
Dutch OE is English OO (toeten -> toot)

Check out this page for a summary of sounds in Dutch:

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