Tuesday, August 3, 2010

German and Dutch

German and Dutch are both Germanic languages. They share a number of similarities. Many of the sound differences between them are the result of the High German consonant shift. This consonant shift affected consonants which did not change in Dutch. High German originated in the highlands of southern Germany and formed the basis of the standard language. Low German originated in the lowlands of northern Germany.

In many cases a Dutch "p" or "pp" is a "pf" in German. Here are examples:

German: Apfel (apple), Pfad (path), Pferd (horse)
Dutch: appel (apple), pad (path), paard (horse)

In other cases a Dutch "p" is an "f" or "ff" in German. Compare the following:

German: Dorf (village), Schaf (sheep), Schiff (ship)
Dutch: dorp (village), schaap (sheep), schip (ship)

A Dutch "t" is often an "s" or "ss" in German. Here are examples:

German: besser (better), Strasse (street), was (what)
Dutch: beter (better), Straat (street), wat (what)

There are many examples in which a "t' in Dutch is a "z" in German:

German: zehn (ten), zwei (two), Zwilling (twin)
Dutch: tien (ten), twee (two), tweeling (twin)

A Dutch "d" often corresponds to a German "t". Here are examples:

German: Tag (day), Tier (animal), Vater (father)
Dutch: dag (day), dier (animal), vader (father)

A Dutch "k" is often a "ch" in German. Compare the following:

German: Buch (book), ich (I), Kirche (church)
Dutch: boek (book), ik (I), kerk (church)

As a result of the High German consonant shift, German and Dutch have many regular sound differences. They include affrication, a sound change in which the Dutch "p" or "pp" became a "pf" in German, spirantization in which the Dutch "t" became an "s" in German, and weakening in which the Dutch "k" became a "ch" in German. Knowledge of the High German consonant shift can make it possible to predict related words in both languages.

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