The Spanish Language Blog

Dutch and Spanish together are Indo-European languages. This is a large language group consisting of as many as more than 400 related languages. Although both languages are not descended from the same subgroups they do show some similarities. In fact, the alphabet is virtually the same except for a few additions to the Spanish alphabet, such as the Ñ and the LL. The Dutch have the advantage of being able to imitate Spanish sounds more easily because almost all sounds are also found in Dutch itself. Sounds such as the rolling R and the hard G also appear in Spanish as double RR and J. This is one of the reasons why the Dutch are generally quicker to master another language and thus automatically have a head start in learning this beautiful Romance language.

  • The Spanish language has its origins in Latin because it is a Romance language. Because Latin used to be used in the Netherlands as a lingua franca (main language of communication between countries that do not share the same language) mainly in writing, this Germanic language of origin also shows similarities derived from Latin.
  • Just as Dutch has loan words from Spanish, there are also loan words that the Spanish language has adopted from Dutch. Many of these words are due to past shipping.
  • While learning Spanish, there is a chance of false friends. These are words from the Dutch language that show many similarities with the Spanish language, but have completely different meanings.

The Spanish language comes from a subset of Indo-European languages and is considered a phonetic language. This means that you pronounce what you read. This Indo-European language group consists of as many as 400 related languages and is divided into four subgroups, Germanic languages, Indo-Iranian languages, Romance languages and Slavic languages. Spanish falls under the Romance languages along with Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian. These languages are so named because they derive from the Latin of Ancient Rome and therefore share similarities in sound and grammar.

That being said, Dutch has no similarities at all; indeed, Dutch is in possession of quite a few loanwords from Spanish. Loan words that are most common in the Dutch language come from French, German, English and Spanish. This is due to the fact that France, Germany and the United Kingdom are neighboring countries with which the Netherlands always maintained a close relationship. In addition, the population close to the border often spoke two languages, creating more clustering. In the case of Spanish loanwords, things were slightly different because Spain, of course, is not a direct neighboring country. This language comes directly from Latin. Partly because the Netherlands used to use Latin primarily in writing and as a lingua franca. Because of this, among other things, similarities can be found in Spanish and Dutch. The origin of some loan words, mostly ship words from Dutch comes from history. As a country, the Netherlands was known for its colonization and many voyages of discovery around the world. This created a lot of trade and cultural exchange which in addition led to language exchange. Nowadays, more and more loan words from Spain are being used due to globalization and an ever-growing Spanish-speaking population.

Certain words that are written exactly the same and mean the same thing in both languages are often the somewhat shorter words, such as bar (bar) and photo (photo). Words that Dutch has adopted from Spanish are also present. In fact, the Spanish word for party, fiesta is already fully integrated into the Dutch language. The same goes for the words siesta (small nap), tapas (small Spanish snacks), macho (tough guy) and lasso (round piece of string). Conversely, Spanish has also borrowed certain words from the Dutch language. While these words have been slightly adapted to Spanish, they still have the same meaning. Loan words like dike (dique), freebooter (filibustero) and words like starboard and bakboard that have been translated to estribor and babor are some examples..

Not always do Dutch words that are very similar to Spanish mean the same thing. Occasionally, one must also look out for the well-known false friends of a language. False friends are words that have similarities in some other language, but have a totally different meaning. Examples of some false friends you may encounter while learning Spanish are pan, cara, aceite and carta. At first you would think that these words mean pan, car, vinegar and card, but nothing could be further from the truth. The actual meanings of these words are bread, face, oil and letter. This can occasionally lead to certain laughable situations.

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