A few weeks ago I re-downloaded an app that I had previously downloaded last year sometime. Originally when I downloaded it I was pretty lost – because it is all in Dutch and actually designed for a native Dutch speaker. The app is Onze Taal (Apple | Android), which translates into ‘Our Language’. It makes a lot more sense now, for the record.
The app is actually an extension of a website that appears frequently in Google results when searching for a Dutch grammar question. The site answers a lot of questions, popular or obscure, like How do I properly conjugate the English verb ‘to email’/say ‘I have emailed you’? Ik heb jou ge-e-maild. Yes, two hyphens. No – seriously. Originally it was geë-maild, because:
1. ge = a prefix that goes in front of a lot of verbs when conjugated in the perfectum (present perfect)
2. ë = two dots over a vowel signify that it is the beginning of a new syllable
3. – = a hyphen because in English you can also write it as e-mail
3. maild = this is actually a typical Dutch conjugation. The verb is e-mailen, so -en is removed and -d added.
But in 2005 the rule changed; letters that stood apart (like the ‘e’ in e-mail) should instead be preceded by a hyphen. Thus: ge-e-maild.
Better to use the verb sturen, or to send…
The website gets the rules from the “Green Book”, which is a publication through the Dutch Language Union.