News - February 8, 2018

Funny sounds


It’s really funny when Dutch people try to pronounce difficult English words. They try very hard but always make a ‘blioliloliloli’ sound with their lips and tongue before they slowly pronounce the word.

Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek

My first encounter with this was at Schiphol Airport when I got into a conversation with a certain Dutch lady. I asked her if she spoke English and she said: ‘Yes but my vocablioliloliloli...’ She was trying to tell me her vocabulary was limited. She got it right on the third try but pronounced it very slowly.

I thought this was just a quirk of this lady’s until I had the same experience with one of my corridor mates in Dijkgraaf. He was telling me how nice Spanish people sound when they talk, and he made that same sound. He said: ‘I like how Spanish people talk, especially in their restaurants. Their pronublioliloliloli...’ He then corrected himself, now stating very slowly that he liked Spanish p-r-o-n-u-n-c-i-a-t-i-o-n.

My impression was confirmed once again in one of my classes when the lecturer made that same sound when trying to pronounce ‘extravagant’. I know people from other countries all have their own way of speaking English, but this is so typical of Dutch people. Now that I am dating a Dutch girl, I am getting used to it. She once said ‘delibliolilolili’ when trying to pronounce ‘delivery’.

Eugene Gakpo Alhassan, Master’s student of Environmental Science, from Ghana

Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience going Dutch? Send it in! Describ an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefly. 300 words max. Send it to and earn 25 euroes and Dutch candy.