#atozchallenge: IJ

I did some international travel during my working days, and I think the place I enjoyed the most is the Netherlands, known colloquially as Holland. The Dutch are friendly people, many of them speak English better than I do, and the country is as beautiful as you might have heard it is.

Dutch is, according to many sources (such as this one), the easiest language to learn for an English speaker. I bought a Dutch-English phrasebook for the trip, but ended up not needing it. About the only word I needed was alstublieft, which is "please" or "thank you," depending on where you happen to be in the conversation.

One thing I noticed about the language is that the letter combination ij comes up a lot. For example, Rijksmuseum, where they were celebrating Rembrandt’s artwork the year we were there. (Rembrandt’s last name, incidentally, is van Rijn, which I believe means that his ancestors were from around the Rhine River.) I saw it written out once, and it looked like the letter Y…

One of the people I met there had the last name van Rooy, which I also saw spelled van Rooij, which gave me the impression that ij and y were more or less interchangeable, and both sound the same. Wikipedia disagrees, claiming that ij sounds like long a in English.

The whole matter gave me a headache. I know there are a couple of Afrikaans-speaking readers out there, and since that language was based on Dutch, maybe one or more of them can clear it up. (Please?)

Speaking of Wikipedia, also known as The Blogger’s Best Friend ™, I found an article about a body of water called the IJ, which used to be a bay and is now considered Amsterdam’s waterfront, kind of like Lake Michigan is to Chicago. That’s what it looks like, anyway…

Zairon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

And with that, I’ll think we’ll move on. Anyone ever been to the IJ, Amsterdam’s waterfront?

36 thoughts on “#atozchallenge: IJ

  1. Hi John – well I have a miniscule amount of Afrikaans knowledge having lived in South Africa – I just pronounce things the way I’ve come across them over the years – I’d say Rijks is a long Raakes … but I’m sure if I was with others I’d have changed my mind by now. I do happily pronounce some European words – rightly or wrongly! Cheers – I’m glad I read this. Hilary


  2. Never been to the Netherlands. Sounds like a neat place to visit, I think I need a passport. Just because you used ij in the post doesn’t absolve you from having to do a j post. Just sayin’. :) Cheers.


  3. What an interesting post and fun choice for your word. I’d like to visit the Netherlands, and if I ever do it’ll be around this time of year when their tulips are in full bloom.


    1. My godmother, Fabulous Auntie Jill, went there in the early ’60’s and loved it. She went for the artwork. Amsterdam is a good travel destination, picturesque but quite modern at the same time.


  4. I am learning Dutch and if you know German and English you can figure out a lot. I spent a lot of time in the Netherlands as we lived about 20 minutes away on the German side. As far as I know “ij” is more like a long “a” in English but a “y” added. That’s how I would describe it. So you are not too far off 🤗


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