In Modern Dutch I do not see or hear any hard G sound. Garden would be pronounced like Harden.. how did that happen?

  • We could ask the same question about Northern German dialects like Berlinerisch, and presumably Low German. Commented Apr 25 at 6:48

2 Answers 2


It is generally held that in proto-Germanic, [g] and [γ] are in an allophonic relation, likewise [b,d] and [β,ð], similar to the situation in Spanish. Word-initially, the stops [b,d] are posited as positional variants. However, the North Sea Germanic languages including Dutch maintained the fricative pronunciation [γ] initially, though other languages developed stops across the board. The fricative allophone was ultimately lost in English, but Dutch retained the fricative – thus Dutch preserved an older phonetic value for the voiced velar obstruent. That does not mean that there was no phonetic [g] in proto-Germanic, indeed it is assumed that the b,d,g were stops post-nasally.

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    Despite what Ringe says, it’s not my impression that Proto-Germanic /g/ is generally held to have been [ɣ] initially. Outside some of Ingvaeonic, I’m not aware of any actual evidence for this claim – Ringe does not give any further evidence either. The more Occamous option, that fricativisation of /g/ into [ɣ] initially was a later change within Ingvaeonic, has always been the default position in my experience. (And of course some dialects of Dutch, mainly those found in Frisian-adjacent areas, do have initial [g] nowadays, though that may well be a later development, I don’t know.) Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 23:47

Although not answering your question, I think it is important to note that your hypothesis of the 'hard g' sound [g] not being present in Modern Dutch is incorrect.

Neglecting the obvious loan-words from other languages like garçon and goal, the [g] sound is present in words where the letter k is followed by either a b or a d. The letter k is then pronounced as [g]. Some examples:

anekdote, atletiekbond, bankbiljet, bereikbaar, bruikbaar, boekdeel, denkbeeld, duikboot, kurkdroog, melkboer, rijkdom, snackbar, stokdoof, vakbond, vergelijkbaar, wenkbrauw, zakdoek, zwakbegaafd.

and even in very common expressions like: ik ben, ik doe

Source: Section 2.5.7 of https://dial.uclouvain.be/pr/boreal/en/object/boreal:86676/datastream/PDF_01/view

Note: I wanted to add it as a comment, but I lack reputation to do so.

  • @JanusBahsJacquet Thanks, I corrected the symbol in my answer.
    – Djembo
    Commented Apr 23 at 11:45

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