alphabet [noun] [het alfabet, de alfabetten; ‘al-faa-bet’]

– “Ken jij het Griekse alfabet?”
(“Do you know the Greek alphabet?”)

– “A, b, c, d, …, x, y, z; dat zijn de letters van het alfabet!”
(“A, b, c, d, …, x, y, z; those are the letters in the alphabet!” See below for the pronunciation of the letters of the Dutch alphabet.)

– “In de bibliotheek staan de boeken op alfabetische volgorde.”
(“In the library the books are arranged in alphabetical order.” Literally: “…the books are standing in…”)

Related words:
– “Alfabetiseren”: to alphabetize.
– “Analfabeet”: [noun] illiterate (person). A person who is illiterate with respect to computers is called a “digibeet”.

The Dutch alphabet
Below we list the Dutch alphabet with pronunciation. Remember that we use Dutch phonetic script: the letter P is not pronounced as the English ‘pee’ but as ‘pay’; the latter we write as ‘pee’. See ‘Hints on pronunciation‘ for interpretation. Also, try to copy the examples below into one of the on-line text-to-speech engines.

A – aa
B – bee
C – cee
D – dee
E – ee
F – ef
G – gee
H – haa
I – ie
J – jee
K – ka
L – el
M – em
N – en
O – oo
P – pee
Q – kuu
R – er
S – es
T – tee
U – uu
V – vee
W – wee
X – ix
Y – ij
Z – zet

Example: (try to copy the text into one of the on-line text-to-speech engines!)
– <aan de telefoon:> “Kunt u uw naam spellen alstublieft?” – “Ja zeker, mijn naam is Jones: J-O-N-E-S.”
(<on the phone:> “Can you please spell your name?” – “Yes of course, my name is Jones: J-O-N-E-S.”)

About N and M:
It is sometimes hard to distinghuish between N (‘en’) and M (‘m’) when spelling out these letters on the phone. This is resolved by saying ‘Nico’ if you mean N and ‘Maria’ if you mean M (there are names for each letter in the alphabet). Alternatively, one uses the word ‘tweepoot’ (‘two leg’) for N and ‘driepoot’ (‘three leg’) for M to clarify.

– <aan de telefoon:> “Mijn naam is Boom: B – O – O – M.” – “Hoe zegt u: Boom of Boon?” – “Boom, met een driepoot op het eind.”
(<on the phone:> “My name is Boom: B – O – O – M” – “Did you say Boom or Boon?” – “Boom, with a ‘driepoot’ at the end.”)

5 thoughts on “Alfabet

  1. Can you elaborate on IJ and Y? Are they interchangeable? Is IJ considered a letter in its own right, or just a vowel sound?

  2. Dank u! It helps enormously not to be fumbling around mixing English and Dutch when spelling stuff. I think you guys need an award!

  3. The Y and IJ are not interchangeable. When people say IJ they mean IJ, if they say Griekse Y or Y grèque they mean Y. To make matters more complex; sometimes people say korte ei and lange ij. That’s because in pronunciation ei and ij sound exactly the same.

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