Learning Flemish

Brussels Travel Blog

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Another Flemish lesson. I'm now taking private tutoring on top of the self-directed stuff.

On the up side, my reading is really improving. I've learned around 350 words, I don't remember them all but in context I usually manage to work out simple sentences. The verb structure is just so counter intuitive to an English speaker. Consider the verb "introduce" (voorstellen). If I (ik) want to introduce you (u) I don't write "Ik voorstellen u". No, instead I have to split the verb up, put the back bit first and then put you in the middle - "Ik stel u voor". It makes literal translation almost impossible, the half verbs have separate meanings (eg "voor" means "for"), so you have to know which words to join in which order before you can piece together the meaning. I am told that this is why people don't interrupt in German (which has the same issue) - you don't know what the person is talking about until they are finished.

On the down side, oral/verbal is just a bugger. The ability to hear novel phonemes drops after the age of five and is nearly dead by puberty. This means in practice that an adult hearing a new language will not be able to hear the difference between phonemes that don't exist in their language. And if you can't hear it, you can't say it. Think "r" and "l" with Japanese speakers learning English as an adult. For me a lot of the vowels are a problem - I struggle to hear the difference between Flemish "e", "i" and "ie". And then the Flemish "g" and "r"! I just have to use the brickwall phrase I hit too often in Belgium "it's impossible".
Adrian_Liston says:
It is hard to not feel inferior to the multi-lingual Dutch :) I just tell myself it is because of my handicap growing up with English as my first language :)
Posted on: Nov 19, 2009
moshers_moll says:
Thank goodness it's not just me struggling to get to grips with the 'g' and the 'r' !! Nightmare indeed,but certainly not impossible.I just need to devote more time to studying as it is not something which can be undertaken on a part-time basis at home, teaching myself online = major headache! :-)
Posted on: Nov 18, 2009
Adrian_Liston says:
That would have been your fourth language?
Posted on: Oct 21, 2009
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