This was quite a lengthy clip. The overall impression is that he has an overwhelming knowledge of his field of expertise and has got a very broad vocabulary within this – vocabulary that any native speaker would be proud of. He comes across as very believable and is able to explain things in a way that everyone can understand.
General issues and pronunciation
As mentioned before, the amount of vocabulary that this man has is remarkable. There are a couple of words that he has issues with pronunciation-wise such as ‘formula’ – the intonation comes across as slightly more syncopated than it should be but in no way does this cause any misunderstanding. Throughout the presentation there are pronunciation issues that are typical to Dutch native speakers. However this being said, the more he speaks, the more relaxed he comes across and the more natural he begins to sound.
There are typical issues with the ‘th’ sound, which appears throughout the clip.
At 9min 18 he said ‘Planck, at the year 1900 understood’ – instead of in the year. Prepositions are a common pitfall with many learners of English.
His accent overall is very Dutch – but when listening, somehow his accent comes across as ‘high class’. Obviously he is a highly educated gentleman, but this is also apparent in his accent – even though it is clear that he is not a native speaker of English. At around the 12 min 30 mark he displays a very Dutch pronunciation of the word ‘up’ – more like ‘ep’ on several occasions. However, to be honest, if I were his teacher, I would probably not correct him on this because it kind of fits into his accent and overall he sounds very natural.
At around the 16 minute mark it sounds like he says ‘these’ energy, as opposed to ‘this’ and also over accentuates on the vowel sound in ‘fancy’ at 16 min 40. This is something that I have come across before. When people take on a high class accent, there is a tendency to go a little overboard and make longer vowel sounds than necessary – but again this is only nit-picking.
Coherence of the presentation
Robbert Dijkgraaf certainly knows what he is talking about and even with these so-called ‘errors’ with his pronunciation and intonation – he sounds relaxed and natural. His vocabulary is second to none. There are quite a few noticeable grammar mistakes concerning subject/verb agreement, but because as a presenter, he is so convincing – this goes unnoticed (unless of course you are listening out for this type of thing!!)
The presentation is delivered at a good pace and has a nice ebb and flow throughout. Even though at times there are minor issues with the intonation of certain words, on the whole he is very good at making things sound exciting. He manages to add stress to the correct words for them to stand out. To be honest he comes across as so professional and so knowledgeable – the detectable Dutch accent becomes insignificant.
Conclusions and ratings
Robbert Dijkgraaf has quite a noticeable Dutch accent but this does not add any detriment to the overall presentation. The very fact that his vocabulary is impeccable and his pronunciation of complex words is generally excellent makes the listener home in on what he is talking about as opposed to how he is talking.