As a language, Dutch is very closely related to English in many ways. In fact, a dialect of Dutch called Frisian, spoken in the north of the Netherlands, is English’s closest living relative. Did you know that?
But Dutch is structured quite differently from English. For those of you who know German, the syntax (that’s the sentence structure) is quite similar to German. Verbs tend to disappear to the end of sentences, for example.
Here are some more characteristics of Dutch which have to be taken into account in Dutch translation:
A feature of Dutch is its ability to build new words by sticking word elements together to form long compound words. Take Chronischevermoeidheidssyndroom, for example. That’s Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to us English speakers.
Like most other European languages, Dutch differentiates between a formal and a familiar form of address. Like ‘vous’ and ‘tu’ in French.
How do we get round that in an English translation? Well, fortunately it’s almost never necessary to differentiate. We manage fine with ‘you’. (Which begs the question to everyone else: why not join us? It works for us!)
There are lots of words and phrases in Dutch that look like their English equivalents but aren’t. Like ‘actueel’ – which doesn’t mean ‘actual’. Or ‘roman’ which has nothing to do with Italian history but everything to do with novels. In the profession we call these false friends.