The “ui” Conundrum Posted by Karoly Molina on Jun 10, 2014 in Dutch Language
The first time I came to the Netherlands, I was ready to get to know my future country and even more excited to learn Dutch. My significant other picked me up at the airport, and we began our drive to our “home” for the two coming weeks. On the highway, I spotted the first Dutch word I wanted to tackle: UIT. Having mastered the typical cheesy phrase of Ik hou van je (I love you) a couple years back, I ventured into the pronunciation of what would become the biggest language challenge of the year!
My significant other, very patiently, and with the love of a young relationship, corrected my pronunciation: uit.
I tried once more.
Significant other repeated slowly and loud: Uit.
Significant other pointed out that out and uit were not the same sounds. I had to incorporate the i.
After a couple of attempts, I did not manage to say uit to the standards of my Dutch boyfriend (or any other Dutch person, for that matter) even though I heard no difference between his uit and my out. During my stay in Europe those two weeks, I attempted it a couple of times.
Back in Mexico, I searched for Dutch classes. I spoke four languages; Dutch couldn’t possibly be complicated for me. I began private lessons with a Dutch man that assured me I would speak Dutch in no time! During our fourth class, we tackled on the sound ui. I was ready to impress him with my great pronunciation.
Repeat after me: ui
No, it’s not “out” like in English. Its ui.
-Try saying E but with your lips in the shape of a U.
-No, lips as in a U
We worked on ui for about an hour. Nothing. I was about the throw in the towel, forget my plans to move to the Netherlands and fire my teacher in the process. He sensed my frustration, and changed activities.
To make a long story short, it took 6 months, two teachers, one boyfriend and my determination to not let one diphthong beat me to pronounce ui with consistency. Once I got this sound, I felt on top of a windmill!
For those of you eager to practice the sound ui, I am including two very useful videos. The first one is simple and the second one is for those daring enough to try!
Uit– By itself it means from or out but in the context of highways, it is short for uitgang, which means exit or the way out.
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