People who’ve traveled extensively before arriving in Amsterdam are well aware that learning at least a few phrases in the local language is at the very least the polite thing to do, and in many cases it’s critical to even performing basic tasks like buying things or checking into a hotel. That’s not actually the case in Amsterdam, but nevertheless I think this short video from the people at Geobeats is definitely worth your time. The host gives you the top 10 Dutch phrases you’ll need when visiting Amsterdam, and it’s nicely produced and very interesting, even though there really isn’t much reason to actually memorize them.
The interesting thing about Amsterdam, and most of this part of the Netherlands as well, is that the locals are quite proud that not only can they all speak Dutch, of course, but they can also speak English more effectively than at least half the Brits, Americans, and Aussies
who visit. Many can also begrudgingly speak German and French as well. In every country south of the Netherlands it’s considered polite to ask if a local speaks English in that person’s own language, but particularly in Amsterdam, if you ask someone under the age of 50 or so if they can speak English, they’ll always say yes, and they might even be slightly insulted with the question.
I’m sure the natives are well aware that not everyone in the world knows the degree to which they master English, so it’s unlikely you’ll get a dirty look or a sarcastic answer if you do ask them (although it does happen, trust me), but the reality is that you really don’t need to bother asking. This is one thing that makes Amsterdam such a wonderful first destination to the Continent for North Americans. In Germany most people will admit to speaking “a little” English just before they fluently and skillfully answer your question in your language, but many people don’t actually speak English fluently and it is considered polite to ask first. In Amsterdam you can literally just approach a Dutch person who might even be speaking Dutch to someone else at that moment, and you can just launch straight into a question in English knowing you’ll be understood.
Regardless of how helpful the natives are, it’s cool to know a few Dutch phrases, and I encourage anyone to give it a shot with those in the video before they arrive, or even from an internet café once here. At the very least you’ll get a smile from the person you try it on, and there’s about a 99% chance the answer to your question will be in flawless English.
Return to the Amsterdamlogue home page to see the latest Amsterdam articles