Dutch is not and easy language to learn, (come to think of it I have yet to hear of any language that people say is easy to learn).
Dutch differs from English not only because it includes some vowel and consonant sounds that don’t occur in English (and visa versa, by the way too) but also because sentences are constructed in a different order so literal translations can be a bit tricky to master at first.
One thing every student of the Dutch language finds confusing too, is when they think they recognise a word that appears to be the same as English, and they do, but it’s a familiar word that turns out to have a completely different Dutch meaning.
Take the word “slim” for example, it means slender does it not? Well, in English it does, but in Dutch if someone is “slim” then they are “intelligent”!
So, if you know that ” winkel” is the Dutch word for “shop” is then a “Strip winkel” a Strip Shop? Well, there’s nothing unseemly here I assure you, for “Strip” means ” comic” in Dutch, so a “Stripwinkel” is a comic-book shop.
A few other examples for your fund of useless information pleasure are:
” Bank“… not only is it the place where you stash your savings and owe money to for the mortgage on your house, …but did you know that every Dutch house also has at least one bank too? … since the second meaning of ” bank” is “couch” .., (or sofa, or settee whatever it’s called in your neck of the woods) The Dutch version of “bank” is pronounced “bunk”
“File” I got caught in one of these the other day.. it’s nothing to do with a manicure, escaping from jail or sharpening your knives, it’s actually the Dutch word for “traffic jam, or tail back” . To pronounce it correctly say ” feel ah”.
Another piece of equally useless information: Dutch traffic jams are not reported on radio stations or on TV unless they are over 3 kms ( about 1 mile) long because they are so many of them. The current record for a “file” stands at about 65 kms long but it appears that Dutch commuters try hard to break that record almost every day in the non summer months.
“Sap” likewise has nothing to do with the draining of energy or the stuff that oozes out of trees, “Sap” in Dutch means “juice or fruit juice”. “Sinaasappelsap” is thus “orange juice” and “appelsap” is “apple juice” the perennial favourite of Dutch children. “Sap” is pronounced in Dutch to rhyme with “cup”.
“Pad” is not something that you scribble on whilst taking a phone message, in Dutch “pad” means “path or track” and I would suppose that the two most common uses would be “voetpad” which is the footpath and “fietspad” which is a cycle path. The Dutch pronounce “pad” to rhyme with “mud”.
It’s not surprising that newbies to the Dutch language get linguistically tangled up sometimes, it’s par for the course when learning any language. We all laugh and learn and feel the pain of others we see and hear making the same mistakes we did in the beginning.
Having a giggle at foreigners mangling the local language is a pastime that happens the word over, all you need to really know when learning Dutch ( or any other language) is that even if you only know twenty-five words, use them, use them often, practice and you will learn as you go.