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Posted by Mummy Dearest on Mar-20-2002

One of the most difficult sounds in the dutch language for a foreigner to master is the ‘sch’ sound. It’s a sort of ‘sh’ sound followed very quickly by an extremely guttural ‘k’ ( one should almost, but not quite, bring up a small amount of mucous pronouncing this sound). Tradition has it that during World War Two, the sure way to ferret out a spy was to trick them into saying the word ‘ Scheveningen’. I get the impression that many a German mole was tripped up by this.

According to, a site which has been set up to help foreigners learn more about living in modern dutch society, the ultimate test of one’s dutch language skills is the following sentence :

Op scheve schaats naar Scheveningen rijden

Yesterday, as a result of the parent teacher conferences, we started a ‘homework 15 minutes’ in our house. At 5.30, while I fuddle about making dinner, The Boy and The Girl are to come to the kitchen and for 15 minutes we will go over their school work. So yesterday, as I added coconut cream to the curry and sliced strawberries, The Girl worked on some math problems and The Boy studied for his dictation. First, I had him write out the ten words twice. Then I took the list and read out the words as he wrote them down ( after all, that is what a dictation is all about).

I did quite well the first 6 words ( schaar, schaap, schaam, schip, schil, schim), but after trying to pronounce the word ‘schuin’ three times, I was very glad when The Father appeared ( like the cavalry) at the kitchen door.

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