Applying Dutch Grammar to English Words

A few months ago, I wrote about my son’s First (Bilingual) Words. Right now, he combines words to make (very short) sentences, and with sentences come verbs. I’ve noticed that he is already applying Dutch grammar to English verbs.

In Dutch, many verbs (in simple form) end in –en, especially the words in my son’s vocabulary: spelen (play), eten (eat), vasthouden (hold), dragen (carry). He now applies the Dutch –en to English verbs; I hear him say things like “I go playen” and “I not liken”.

(By the way, whenever he uses the word liken, it always makes me think of Facebook because, thanks to Facebook, the word ‘like’ has pretty much become a part of the Dutch vernacular and people apply Dutch grammar to it in sentences: Ik heb zijn bericht niet geliked – I did not like his message).

My son also applies other forms of Dutch grammar to English, like the Dutch use the diminutive –je. A small book is a boekje and a small car is autootje and so on. And for some reason, when Dutch grown-ups talk to children they automatically add the diminutive to every noun. The don’t say pak je jas (grab your coat) but jasje. Eat with your fork becomes eet met je vorkje. So, my son is so used to hearing the diminutive that he uses it in English too: “Want breadje” or “Where horse-je?” But then who can blame him when he hears me say words as rubber duckie and monkey which sound very similar in fast speech?

Vanessa

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