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OT: Dutch pronunciation questions

From:Thomas Leigh <thomas@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 7, 2002, 15:36
Dag, Netherlandophones! Hoe gaat het?

As someone interested in the Dutch language (I've studied a little, but
not enough to really speak) and who has been following some of the posts
regarding pronunciation and accents in Dutch, I have a few questions.

1. The diphthong ij/ei. Textbooks always say this is /ej/ (or usually
say something along the lines of "like ay in day") but it never sounds
like that to me; to my ear it sounds more like /æj/ (sorry, don't know
X-SAMPA; I hope the characters come out). I heard or read once that some
people now even say /aj/. I was wondering how the Dutch speakers here
pronounce it, and what you would say the most common realisation of that
grapheme is.

2. Eu. This was mentioned in an earlier thread, I think, but I couldn't
figure out the X-SAMPA. Textbooks always say it's a simple vowel,
describing it as being like French eu or German ö. But it always sounds
like a diphthong to me, though I can't figure out exactly what it is, so
I can't transcribe it. I just hear more than one sound there. What do
the Dutch speakers think? How would you describe/transcribe it? Are
there regional differences in how it is pronounced?

3. This devoicing of /z/ to /s/. All the Dutch speakers I've heard have
pronounced z as /z/. However, I've only been personally to Belgium,
never to the Netherlands; my experience hearing Dutch speakers from the
Netherlands is limited to broadcasting (TV and radio
presenters/newsreaders). I was wondering how widespread this devoicing
is. Someone (I think Maarten, perhaps?) said that in his speech /z/>/s/
intervocalically; does that mean that /z/ remains /z/ word-initially? Or
does /z/>/s/ everywhere? Or does it vary from region to region? I know
that Afrikaans has lost /z/ completely; they only have /s/. I'm curious
whether this happened after Dutch was established in S. Africa, or
whether the Dutch settlers who brought the language there already spoke
like that, i.e. did they come from a region of the Netherlands where

Any answers/ideas/suggestions will be appreciated, as well as your
patience with an interested American trying not to maul your language!

Tot straks,



Irina Rempt <irina@...>