• Dutch
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  • Afrikaans
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The orthography of Dutch

The orthography of Dutch makes use of the Roman alphabet. There is no complete one-to-one correspondence between phonemes and letters (or graphemes) due to the following factors:

  • Dutch has more phonemes than available letters. This applies in particular to vowels. For instance, there is only one letter o whereas there is both a short vowel [ɔ] and a long vowel [o]. The diagraph oe is used for representing the phoneme /u/, as the letter u is used for representing a different phoneme, the /ʏ/, as in put well.
  • Dutch orthography may reflect the historical origin of a word. For instance, the letter c in cent cent stands for /s/ which reflects the Latin origin of this word. This is called the Principle of Etymology.
  • Dutch orthography may reflect a more abstract phonological form of a word than the actual phonetic form. For instance, the spelling of the word hoed [hut] with a final d is a representation of the abstract ('underlying') form /hud/ which surfaces in the plural form hoeden [hudən]. This is called the principle of uniformity.
  • Dutch orthography may represent verbal endings that are not realized phonetically due to phonological constraints. For instance, the third person singular present-tense form of the verb wenden to turn is wendt [wɛnt], with a final letter t that is not pronounced: a syllable-final sequence /dt/ is realized as [t]. This is called the principle of analogy.