If you are about to start a business amongst the Dutch-speaking territories, then it is crucial to consider Dutch translation for your documents. A local language is a powerful tool to enhance relationships amongst individuals, businesses, and countries.
I. The importance of Dutch translation
The Netherlands or Holland has a population of approx. 18 million and Dutch is the official language of this nation. Not only that, but Dutch is also the official language in Belgium. Both of these countries are famous for connections to international trade, creating a lot of opportunities for foreign businesses. Outside Europe, Dutch is also the official language of new Caribbean islands.
The Dutch language is a West Germanic language. It shares some common ancestral history like German, Scandinavian languages, and even English.
II. 4 problems when translating Dutch
1. You cannot rely on the phonetics
The Dutch spoken language contains many pronunciation traits from its long history, so translators may encounter several challenges such as sometimes the written form of a word is not the same as its pronunciation. Moreover, Dutch has many words which are spelled the same as their English complements but pronounced differently. These might confuse the inexperienced translators, especially when it comes to interpretation.
2. Long and vowelless consonants
The Dutch language is from the West Germanic family, so the Germanic tendency is still found in many Dutch words, which merge long and vowel-less strings of consonants, making the words much lengthier (both pronunciation and spelling) and confusing.
Further adding to this complexity, Dutch people speakers rarely shorten these mega words in their pronunciations, leading to a result that the words can be inaccurately translated.
Dutch alters itself across the borders of Holland and Belgium. It is therefore essential to know whether the target country for which the Dutch translation is required is for the former or latter.
Take the English word ‘national’, if the target market were Belgium, then the Flemish word ‘nasional’ would be required, as whilst the Dutch ‘natzional’ may not look very different, it would look out of place in a text whose target market is Flanders. There may be many words that Dutch and Flemish share, but equally, there are countless words that are not used in both dialects and many that are not interchangeable. E.g. ‘schoonbroer’ in Flanders means my wife’s brother, whilst in the Netherlands, the Dutch is ‘zwager’.
Formal Dutch for ‘you’ is ‘u’, whil