In Dutch you say Goedemorgen and Goedendag. How do we know when there is goede and goeden? Are there rules for this?
The formal way of saying good bye is Tot ziens. Should the Z be pronounce with a voiced alveolar fricative (like in English)?
Are there more to learning the Dutch greetings than just learning the verbal part of it?
ANSWER: Hello Hank,
This is indeed a good question that has to do with grammar in the Dutch language. You could ask this question about German, French and some other Roman languages as well. The point is that we historically change words based on their application. We added the "n" at the end of the article. This is no longer the case so you will not hear it in modern sentences like "Ik hoor de computer" (I am hearing the computer). But long used expressions still keep the "n" like "Goedendag".
However, you don't always hear the "n" so well because of the letters before and after it. You can't hear the amount of n's in "goedennacht" (good night) so they were just forgotten over time. Though "goedenmorgen" would be correct, it sounds archaic and it's just easier to say "goedemorgen". This has been the case for so long that they are the accepted way of writing. If we drop the n everywhere "goede-avond" becomes more difficult to say as you have to switch from e to a. The n makes is easier to pronounce, so it stays.
I think that "goededag" is easy enough to say, but in my part of the country we don't say this anyway anymore. It's either "goedemorgen" or "goedemiddag" (morning before 12:00 or afternoon after 12:00). I just said "goedemiddag" to someone at 11:50 today and I immediately corrected myself as if these 10 minutes really matter. :)
As for "Tot ziens", I do not know what a "voiced alveolar fricative" is but you may be referring to the pronunciation as an 's' with just a hiss instead of a real 'z' where you hear a sounds similar to buzzing of a bee. A hiss is always referred to as an s in Dutch, and a buzzing sound to a z.
The fact is that in colloquial spoken Dutch, we say "Tot siens" as if it was written with an s. This is again a simplication as it is difficult to really pronounce the z here because of the letters around it. Purists might try to pronounce it anyway. But you would normally never write it with an s, it's always "Tot ziens" in written language as it it "zien", not "sien" (which is funny to me as the English speakers do use it with an s; it's "to see", not "to zee" :) ).
If you want to learn more about Dutch greeting, I think you could make a study out of it. There is a cultural aspect to it too, as we might more easily say "Hallo" to a respectable person where the English would be more formal, but we are still a bit more formal than the Swedes who say "Hej" to everyone. :)
In multicultural environments, with Surinam influences for instance, it would be different. You'd see 'street people' greeting each other with fist bumps and so on, and use Surinam greetings like "fawakka" instead. Older people might greet you differently because of the times in which they grew up, and in the countryside people WOULD greet you when passing by where in the city people would not say anything at all. :)
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Is Z always pronounced like a Z (except after a T)? Should ziens be pronounced with a Z if it pronounced as a separately word? And S is always pronounced like an S?
Could I come in contact with different dialects and accents of the language that will be very different from the standard Dutch?
What do you mean by Surinam influences?
The z is always pronounced in the same way, the s as well. However, there are different regions in the Netherlands with their own accents and some are famous for pronouncing the z like an s, zometimes even close to sj. You would only encounter those if you are in The Netherlands and listen to Dutch, or if you speak Dutch and talk to different people. However, it's hard to hear the differences if you are not accustomed to it. In particular regions, they have their own dialect. In the province of Friesland, people even have their own language, Frisian. The Frisians were a separate Germanic tribe and they have been able to maintain their language. It's hard to understand what they are saying for me. It's the same when I hear Swedish; I think I hear some familiar words but most words I cannot understand.
Surinam is a former colony of ours and we have a lot of people from there living over here, similar to Indians in the UK.