German and Dutch belong to the West Germanic language family that also includes Frisian, English, Afrikaans, Yiddish, amongst others. Geographically the proto-West Germanic language focused around present-day northern Germany and then flowed to the south as well as northwest and before going global with European expansion.
To the amateur ear, Dutch and German can appear very similar. And even when written, the languages look similar. If your native language is English or French, Dutch is easier to understand, although several people coming from the Eastern European nations will have “an ear” for German words and slogans. German is an official language in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein. Dutch is an official language in the Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname, Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten.
Written German has been regulated from a myriad of similar dialects into Hochdeutsch or ‘High German,’ although there remain significant local differences in the spoken language. Similarly, Dutch also has standardized grammar governed by the Dutch Language Union while keeping several dialects and varieties of pronunciation in the spoken style, the biggest being ‘Flemish’ which is a general term covering the Dutch dialects in northern Belgium.
If we talk about Dutch vs. German, which language is the most difficult to translate then my answer would be German.
Because specific difficulties are there in German, which could make it comparably difficult, however, the scale of “difficult languages” is too superficially performed by too many people. But yes, grammar and vocabulary are easier in Dutch than in German.
The rules of grammar
Learning Dutch or German is one thing, but when it comes to the translation, there is no getting around it – German is quite difficult. They have several rules of grammar. And there are exceptions to those rules. Take the simple, often-used word THE. In English, this is the most usually used function word. It is used on average four times in every 100 words. But in German, it’s a different story.
The German language has three genders (masculine, feminine and neutral) and four cases (nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive). That means in German; THE can become DER, DIE, DAS, DEN, DEM, and DES. And when you use plural terms, you still have three different options to pick from.
In Dutch, no cases are applied to articles, adjectives or nouns and the use of THE is a lot easier. Dutch only knows THE as DE or HET when used for singular words, and once they are pluralized, everything is DE. Non-Native linguists do have to get applied to the DE/HET situation, as it is not always obvious, and rules don’t seem to work too well here.
In German, the irregular and quite different plurals can be quite tricky for translators, but in Dutch, it is consistently -en or -s, and the rules for which to use are easy to learn and translate. These ultimately outweighed Dutch’s linguistic simplicity and cleared the fact German is difficult to translate from Dutch vs. German.