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Dutch ( ) is a West Germanic language spoken by about 25 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting most of the population of the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
(where it is the only official language countrywide) and about 60% of the population of
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

Belgium
(as one of three official languages). "1% of the EU population claims to speak Dutch well enough in order to have a conversation." (page 153). It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
. Outside the
Low Countries The term Low Countries, also known as the Low Lands ( nl, de Lage Landen, french: les Pays-Bas) and historically called the Netherlands ( nl, de Nederlanden), Flanders, or Belgica, refers to a coastal lowland region in Northwestern Europe ...
, it is the native language of the majority of the population of
Suriname Suriname (, sometimes spelled Surinam), officially known as the Republic of Suriname ( nl, Republiek Suriname ), is a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America. Borders of Suriname, It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the ...

Suriname
where it also holds an official status, as it does in
Aruba Aruba ( , , ) is an island and a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands , national_anthem = ) , image_map = Kingdom of the Netherlands (orthographic projection).svg , map_width = 250px , image_map2 = File:KonDerNed-10-10- ...

Aruba
,
Curaçao Curaçao ( ; ; pap, Kòrsou, ) is a Lesser Antilles The Lesser Antilles ( es, link=no, Antillas Menores; french: link=no, Petites Antilles; pap, Antias Menor; nl, Kleine Antillen) are a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea The Cari ...
and
Sint Maarten Sint Maarten (, ) is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands , national_anthem = ) , image_map = Kingdom of the Netherlands (orthographic projection).svg , map_width = 250px , image_map2 = File:KonDerNed-10-10-10.png , ...

Sint Maarten
, which are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and are located in the
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles ...
. Historical linguistic minorities on the verge of extinction remain in parts of France and Germany, and in Indonesia,In France, a historical dialect called
French Flemish French Flemish (French Flemish: , Dutch language, Standard Dutch: , french: flamand français) is a West Flemish dialect spoken in the north of contemporary France. Place names attest to Flemish having been spoken since the 8th century in the p ...
is spoken. There are about 80,000 Dutch speakers in France; see . In French Flanders, only a remnant of 20,000 Flemish-speakers remain; see . French Flemish is spoken in the north-west of France by an estimated population of 20,000 daily speakers and 40,000 occasional speakers; see .
A dialect continuum exists between Dutch and German through the
South Guelderish 200px, Nijmeegs/Liemers, North Limburgish and Kleverlander (all 3 in blue) crossing the Dutch-German border (red) South Guelderish ( nl, Zuid-Gelders, german: Südgeldersch, ''Kleverländisch'') refers to the easternmost group of Dutch language, ...
and
Limburgish Limburgish ( li, Lèmburgs ; nl, Limburgs ; german: Limburgisch ; french: Limbourgeois ), also called Limburgan, Limburgian, or Limburgic, is a West Germanic language spoken in the Dutch and Belgian provinces of Limburg and in the neighbouri ...
dialects.
In 1941, 400,000 Indonesians spoke Dutch, and Dutch exerted a major influence on Indonesian; see . In 1941, about 0.5% of the inland population had a reasonable knowledge of Dutch; see . At the beginning of World War II, about one million Asians had an active command of Dutch, while an additional half million had a passive knowledge; see . Many older Indonesians speak Dutch as a second language; see . Some of the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia speak Dutch amongst each other; see , . Dutch is spoken by "smaller groups of speakers" in Indonesia; see . Some younger Indonesians learn Dutch as a foreign language because their parents and grandparents may speak it and because in some circles, Dutch is regarded as the language of the elite; see . At present, only educated people of the oldest generation, in addition to specialists who require knowledge of the language, can speak Dutch fluently; see . Around 6.4% of present-day Indonesian vocabulary can be traced back to Dutch words, see .
while up to half a million native speakers may reside in the United States, Canada and Australia combined. The
Cape Dutch Cape Dutch, also commonly known as Cape Afrikaners, were a historic socioeconomic class of Afrikaners Afrikaners () are an ethnic group in Southern Africa descended from predominantly Dutch settlers first arriving at the Cape of Good Hop ...
dialects of
Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Pr ...
have evolved into
Afrikaans Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 5 ...
, a
mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
daughter language In historical linguistics, a daughter language, also known as descendant language, is a language descended from another language, its mother language, through a process of Genetic (linguistics), genetic descent. If more than one language has develo ...
Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .
Afrikaans was historically called Cape Dutch; see , , , , , .
Afrikaans is rooted in 17th century dialects of Dutch; see , , , .
Afrikaans is variously described as a creole, a partially creolised language, or a deviant variety of Dutch; see .
which is spoken to some degree by at least 16 million people, mainly in South Africa and Namibia. Dutch is one of the closest relatives of both
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
and
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
and is colloquially said to be "roughly in between" them. Dutch, like English, has not undergone the
High German consonant shift In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes ...
, does not use
Germanic umlaut The Germanic umlaut (sometimes called i-umlaut or i-mutation) is a type of linguistic umlaut (linguistics), umlaut in which a back vowel changes to the associated front vowel (fronting (phonology), fronting) or a front vowel becomes closer to ...
as a grammatical marker, has largely abandoned the use of the
subjunctive The subjunctive is a grammatical mood In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditiona ...
, and has levelled much of its morphology, including most of its case system. Features shared with German include the survival of two to three grammatical genders—albeit with few grammatical consequences—as well as the use of
modal particleIn linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include pho ...
s,
final-obstruent devoicing Final-obstruent devoicing or terminal devoicing is a systematic phonological process occurring in languages such as Catalan, German, Dutch, Breton, Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, Turkish, and Wolof. In such languages, voiced obstruentAn ob ...
, and a similar
word order In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...
. Dutch vocabulary is mostly Germanic and incorporates slightly more than German but far fewer than English.


Name

In both Belgium and the Netherlands, the native official name for Dutch is ''Nederlands''.See also: Sometimes ''Vlaams'' ("
Flemish Flemish (''Vlaams'') is a Low Franconian Low Franconian, Low Frankish, NetherlandicSarah Grey Thomason, Terrence Kaufman: ''Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics'', University of California Press, 1991, p. 321. (Calling it " ...
") is used as well to describe
Standard Dutch Dutch is a West Germanic language spoken by about 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands The Netherlands ( nl, Nederland ), informally referre ...
in
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...

Flanders
, whereas ''Hollands'' ("
Hollandic Hollandic or Hollandish ( ) is the most widely spoken dialect of the Dutch language Dutch is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language spoken by about 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, c ...
") is occasionally used as a colloquial term for the standard language in the central and northwestern parts of the Netherlands. English is the only language to use the adjective ''Dutch'' for the language of the Netherlands and Flanders or something else from the Netherlands. The word is derived from
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
. The stem of this word, , meant "people" in Proto-Germanic, and was an adjective-forming suffix, of which is the
Modern English Modern English (sometimes New English or NE (ME) as opposed to Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th cen ...

Modern English
form. ' was its
Latinised Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s and 1930s to replace traditional writing sy ...
form and used as an
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
referring to the
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, normally Spoken language, spoken informally rath ...
s of the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
. In this sense, it meant "the language of the common people". The term was used as opposed to
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
, the ''non''-native language of writing and the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
. It was first recorded in 786, when the
Bishop of OstiaThe bishop of Ostia is the head of the suburbicarian diocese of Ostia, one of the seven suburbicarian sees of Diocese of Rome, Rome. Since 1150, the bishop has been the dean of the College of Cardinals, with the actual governance of the diocese en ...
writes to
Pope Adrian I Pope Adrian I ( la, Hadrianus I; died 25 December 795) was the bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 1 February 772 to his death. He was the son of Theodore, a Roman nobleman. Adrian and his predecessors had to contend with periodic ...

Pope Adrian I
about a
synod A synod () is a council of a Ecclesia (church), church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word ''wikt:synod, synod'' comes from the meaning "assembly" or "meeting" and is analogous with the L ...

synod
taking place in
Corbridge Corbridge is a village in Northumberland, England, west of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle and east of Hexham. Villages nearby include Halton, Northumberland, Halton, Acomb, Northumberland, Acomb, Aydon and Sandhoe. Etymology Corbridge was kno ...

Corbridge
,
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
, where the decisions are being written down "tam Latine quam theodisce" meaning "in Latin as well as common vernacular".M. Philippa e.a. (2003–2009) Etymologisch Woordenboek van het Nederlands iets/ref>Cornelis Dekker: The Origins of Old Germanic Studies in the Low Countrie

/ref> In northwestern
West Francia In medieval history In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe ...
(i.e. modern Belgium) the term would take on a new meaning during the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
, when, within the context of a highly dichromatic linguistic landscape, it came to be the
antonym In lexical semantics Lexical semantics (also known as lexicosemantics), as a subfield of linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods fo ...
of '' *walhisk'' (Romance-speakers, specifically
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular o ...
). The word, now rendered as ''dietsc'' (Southwestern variant) or ''duutsc'' (Central and Northern Variant), could refer to the Dutch language itself, as well as a broader Germanic category depending on context. During the
High Middle Ages The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical c ...
"Dietsc/Duutsc" was increasingly used as an umbrella term for the specific Germanic dialects spoken in the
Low Countries The term Low Countries, also known as the Low Lands ( nl, de Lage Landen, french: les Pays-Bas) and historically called the Netherlands ( nl, de Nederlanden), Flanders, or Belgica, refers to a coastal lowland region in Northwestern Europe ...
, its meaning being largely implicitly provided by the regional orientation of medieval Dutch society: apart from the higher echelons of the clergy and nobility, mobility was largely static and hence while "Dutch" could by extension also be used in its earlier sense, referring to what to today would be called Germanic dialects as opposed to , in many cases it was understood or meant to refer to the language now known as Dutch. In the Low Countries ''Dietsch'' or its Early Modern Dutch form ''Duytsch'' as an endonym for Dutch gradually went out of common use and was gradually replaced by the Dutch endonym ''Nederlands''. This designation (first attested in 1482) started at the Burgundian court in the 15th century, although the use of ''neder'', ''laag'', ''bas'', and ''inferior'' ("nether" or "low") to refer to the area known as the Low Countries goes back further in time, with the
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...

Romans
referring to the region as ''
Germania Inferior Germania Inferior ("Lower Germania") was a Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Rom ...
'' ("Lower" Germania). It is a reference to the Low Countries' downriver location at the
Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta The Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta is a river delta in the Netherlands formed by the confluence of the Rhine, the Meuse ( nl, Maas) and the Scheldt rivers. In some cases, the Scheldt delta is considered a separate delta to the Rhine-Meuse delta. ...
near the
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
. From 1551, the designation ''Nederlands'' received strong competition from the name ''Nederduytsch'' (literally "Low Dutch", ''Dutch'' being used in its archaic sense covering all continental West Germanic languages). It is a
calque In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...

calque
of the aforementioned Roman province ''Germania Inferior'' and an attempt by early Dutch grammarians to give their language more prestige by linking it to Roman times. Likewise, ''Hoogduits'' ("High German") and ''Overlands'' ("Upper-landish") came into use as a Dutch exonym for the various German dialects, used in neighboring German states. Use of ''Nederduytsch'' was popular in the
16th century The 16th century begins with the year () and ends with either the Julian or the year () (depending on the reckoning used; the Gregorian calendar introduced a lapse of 10 days in October 1582). The term is often used to refer to the 1500s, t ...
but ultimately lost out over ''Nederlands'' during the close of the
18th century The 18th century lasted from January 1, 1701 ( MDCCI) to December 31, 1800 ( MDCCC). The term is often used to refer to the 1700s, the century between January 1, 1700 and December 31, 1799. During the 18th century, elements of Enlightenment ...
, with ''(Hoog)Duytsch'' establishing itself as the Dutch exonym for German during this same period. In the 19th century Germany saw the rise of the categorisation of dialects, with German dialectologists terming the German dialects spoken in the mountainous south of Germany as ''Hochdeutsch'' ("High German"). Subsequently, German dialects spoken in the north were designated as ''Niederdeutsch'' ("Low German"). The names for these dialects were calqued by Dutch linguists as ''Nederduits'' and ''Hoogduits''. As a result, ''Nederduits'' no longer serves as a synonym for the Dutch language. In the 19th century, the term "Diets" was revived by Dutch linguists and historians as well, as a poetic name for
Middle Dutch Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic languages, West Germanic dialects whose ancestor was Old Dutch and was spoken and written between 1150 and 1500. The language served as a minority language in the Holy ...
and its literature.


History

Old Dutch In linguistics, Old Dutch or Old Low Franconian is the set of Franconian dialects (i.e. dialects that evolved from Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical ...

Old Dutch
can be discerned more or less around the same time as
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
(Anglo-Saxon),
Old High German Old High German (OHG, german: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. ) is the earliest stage of the German language German ( Standard High German: , ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Euro ...
,
Old Frisian Old Frisian was a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries in the area between the Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticl ...
, and
Old Saxon Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was a Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of ...
. These names are derived from the modern
standard language A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety In sociolinguistics, a variety, also called an isolect or lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include language ...
s. In this age no standard languages had yet developed, while a perfect West Germanic
dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of languag ...
remained present; the division reflects the contingent future contribution dialect groups would have to the later languages. The early form of Dutch was a set of Franconian dialects spoken by the
Salian Franks The Salian Franks, also called the Salians (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
in the fifth century. These happened to develop through
Middle Dutch Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic languages, West Germanic dialects whose ancestor was Old Dutch and was spoken and written between 1150 and 1500. The language served as a minority language in the Holy ...
to Modern Dutch over the course of fifteen centuries. During that period, they forced Old Frisian back from the western coast to the north of the Low Countries, and influenced or even replaced Old Saxon spoken in the east (contiguous with the Low German area). On the other hand, Dutch has been replaced in adjacent lands in present-day France and Germany. The division into Old, Middle and Modern Dutch is mostly conventional, since the transition between them was very gradual. One of the few moments when
linguists Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include phonetics, phonet ...

linguists
can detect something of a revolution is when the Dutch standard language emerged and quickly established itself. The development of the Dutch language is illustrated by the following sentence in Old, Middle and Modern Dutch: * ''Irlôsin sol an frithe sêla mîna fan thên thia ginâcont mi, wanda under managon he was mit mi'' (Old Dutch) * ''Erlossen sal in vrede siele mine van dien die genaken mi, want onder menegen hi was met mi'' (Middle Dutch) * ''Verlossen zal hij in vrede ziel mijn van degenen die genaken mij, want onder menigen hij was met mij'' (Modern Dutch, same word order) * ''Hij zal mijn ziel in vrede verlossen van degenen die mij genaken, want onder menigen was hij met mij'' (Modern Dutch, default word order) * ''He will deliver my soul in peace from those who approach me, because, amongst many, he was with me'' (English)


Origins

Among the
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
, Dutch is grouped within the
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic languages
, meaning it shares a
common ancestor Common descent is a concept in evolutionary biology Evolutionary biology is the subfield of biology that studies the evolution, evolutionary processes (natural selection, common descent, speciation) that produced the Biodiversity, diversity ...
with languages such as English, German, and the
Scandinavian languages The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also re ...
. All Germanic languages are subject to the
Grimm's law Grimm's law (also known as the First Germanic Sound Shift) is a set of sound laws A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a language change, change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement ...
and
Verner's law Verner's law described a historical sound change A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement of one speech sound (or, more generally, one ph ...
sound shifts, which originated in the
Proto-Germanic language Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed proto-language of the Germanic languages, Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages. Proto-Germanic eventually developed from ...
and define the basic features differentiating them from other Indo-European languages. This is assumed to have taken place in approximately the mid-first millennium BCE in the pre-Roman Northern European Iron Age. This long-standing, well-known article on the languages can be found in almost any edition of ''Britannica''. The Germanic languages are traditionally divided into three groups: East (now extinct),
West 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West or Occident is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet-based directions are conventionally defined. A co ...
, and
North North is one of the four compass points The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydro ...

North
Germanic. They remained mutually intelligible throughout the
Migration Period The Migration Period, also known as the Barbarian Invasions (from the Roman and Greek perspective), is a term sometimes used for the period in the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the ...
. Dutch is part of the West Germanic group, which also includes English, Scots,
Frisian Frisian usually refers to: *Frisia, a region on the western coasts of Germany and the Netherlands **Frisians, the medieval and modern ethnic group inhabiting Frisia ***Frisii, the ancient inhabitants of Frisia prior to 600 AD **Frisian languages, a ...
,
Low German : : : : : , minority = (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 = Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic langua ...
(Old Saxon) and
High German The High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten), or simply High German (; not to be confused with Standard High German which is imprecisely also called ''High German''), comprise the varieties Variety may refer to: Science and tec ...
. It is characterized by a number of
phonological Phonology is a branch of that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any particular language variety. At on ...

phonological
and morphological innovations not found in North or East Germanic. The West Germanic varieties of the time are generally split into three dialect groups:
Ingvaeonic North Sea Germanic, also known as Ingvaeonic , is a postulated grouping of the northern West Germanic languages that consists of Old Frisian Old Frisian is a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries in the area between ...
(North Sea Germanic),
Istvaeonic Weser-Rhine Germanic is a term introduced by the German linguist Friedrich Maurer for the group of prehistoric West Germanic dialects ancestral to Dutch and to the West Central German West Central German (german: Westmitteldeutsch) belongs to ...
(Weser-Rhine Germanic) and Irminonic (Elbe Germanic). It appears that the Frankish tribes fit primarily into the Istvaeonic dialect group with certain Ingvaeonic influences towards the northwest, which are still seen in modern Dutch.


Frankish (3rd–5th century)

The Frankish language itself is not directly attested, the only possible exception being the
Bergakker inscription The Bergakker inscription is an Elder Futhark inscription discovered on the scabbard of a 5th-century Migration Period sword, sword. It was found in 1996 in the Netherlands, Dutch town of Bergakker, in the Betuwe, a region once inhabited by the ...
, found near the Dutch city of
Tiel Tiel () is a Municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality and a town in the middle of the Netherlands. The town is enclosed by the Waal (river), Waal river and the Linge river to the South and the North, and the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal to the East ...

Tiel
, which may represent a primary record of 5th-century Frankish. Although some place names recorded in Roman texts such as ' (modern Dutch: ', English: "mudflat"), could arguably be considered as the oldest single "Dutch" words, the Bergakker inscription yields the oldest evidence of Dutch morphology. However, interpretations of the rest of the text lack any consensus. The
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
emerged in the southern Netherlands (
Salian Franks The Salian Franks, also called the Salians (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
) and central Germany (
Ripuarian Franks Ripuarian or Rhineland Franks (Latin: ''Ripuarii'' or ''Ribuarii'') were one of the two main groupings of early Frankish people The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman s ...
), and later descended into
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
. The name of survives in that of France. Although they ruled the
Gallo-Romans The term "Gallo-Roman" describes the Romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for st ...
for nearly 300 years, their language,
Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman author ...
, became extinct in most of France and was replaced by later forms of the language throughout Luxembourg and Germany in around the 7th century. It was replaced in France by
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular o ...
(a
Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European languages, Indo- ...

Romance language
with a considerable Old Frankish influence). However, the Old Franconian language did not die out at large, as it continued to be spoken in the Low Countries, and subsequently evolved into what is now called Old Low Franconian or Old Dutch in the Low Countries. In fact, Old Frankish could be reconstructed from Old Dutch and Frankish loanwords in Old French.


Old Dutch (5th–12th century)

The term ''Old Dutch'' or ''Old Low Franconian'' refers to the set of Franconian dialects (i.e. West Germanic varieties that are assumed to have evolved from
Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman author ...
) spoken in the
Low Countries The term Low Countries, also known as the Low Lands ( nl, de Lage Landen, french: les Pays-Bas) and historically called the Netherlands ( nl, de Nederlanden), Flanders, or Belgica, refers to a coastal lowland region in Northwestern Europe ...
during the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
, from around the 5th to the 12th century. Page 27: "''...Aan het einde van de negende eeuw kan er zeker van Nederlands gesproken worden; hoe long daarvoor dat ook het geval was, kan niet met zekerheid worden uitgemaakt.''" t can be said with certainty that Dutch was being spoken at the end of the 9th century; how long that might have been the case before that cannot be determined with certainty./ref> Old Dutch is mostly recorded on fragmentary relics, and words have been reconstructed from Middle Dutch and Old Dutch loanwords in French. Old Dutch is regarded as the primary stage in the development of a separate Dutch language. It was spoken by the descendants of the
Salian Franks The Salian Franks, also called the Salians (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
who occupied what is now the southern
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
, northern
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

Belgium
, part of northern France, and parts of the Lower Rhine regions of Germany. The High German consonant shift, moving over Western Europe from south to west, caused a differentiation with the High Franconian German, Central and High Franconian in Germany. The latter would as a consequence evolve (along with Alemannic German, Alemannic, Bavarian language, Bavarian and Lombardic language, Lombardic) into Old High German. At more or less the same time the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law, moving over Western Europe from west to east, led to the development of
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
(or Anglo-Saxon),
Old Frisian Old Frisian was a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries in the area between the Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticl ...
and
Old Saxon Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was a Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of ...
. Hardly influenced by either development, Old Dutch probably remained relatively close to the original language of the Franks. However, the language did experience developments of its own, such as very early
final-obstruent devoicing Final-obstruent devoicing or terminal devoicing is a systematic phonological process occurring in languages such as Catalan, German, Dutch, Breton, Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, Turkish, and Wolof. In such languages, voiced obstruentAn ob ...
. In fact, the find at Bergakker indicates that the language may already have experienced this shift during the Old Frankish period. Attestations of Old Dutch sentences are extremely rare. The language is mostly recorded on fragmentary relics, and words have been reconstructed from Middle Dutch and loan words from Old Dutch in other languages. The oldest recorded is found in the Salic law. In this Franks, Frankish document written around 510 the oldest Dutch sentence has been identified: ''Maltho thi afrio lito'' ("I say to you, I free you, serf") used to free a serf. Another old fragment of Dutch is ''Visc flot aftar themo uuatare'' ("A fish was swimming in the water"). The oldest conserved larger Dutch text is the Old Saxon Baptismal Vow, Utrecht baptismal vow (776–800) starting with ''Forsachistu diobolae ... ec forsacho diabolae'' (litt.: "Forsake you the devil? ... I forsake the devil"). If only for its poetic content, the most famous Old Dutch sentence is probably ''Hebban olla vogala nestas hagunnan, hinase hic enda tu, wat unbidan we nu'' ("All birds have started making nests, except me and you, what are we waiting for"), is dated to around the year 1100, written by a Flemish monk in a convent in Rochester, Kent, Rochester,
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
. Since the sentence speaks to the imagination, it is often erroneously stated as the oldest Dutch sentence.


Middle Dutch (12th–15th century)

Old Dutch naturally evolved into
Middle Dutch Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic languages, West Germanic dialects whose ancestor was Old Dutch and was spoken and written between 1150 and 1500. The language served as a minority language in the Holy ...
. The year 1150 is often cited as the time of the discontinuity, but it actually marks a time of profuse Dutch writing; during this period a rich Medieval Dutch literature developed. There was at that time no overarching
standard language A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety In sociolinguistics, a variety, also called an isolect or lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include language ...
; Middle Dutch is rather a collective name for a number of closely related, mutually intelligible dialects spoken in the former Old Dutch area. Where Old Dutch fragments are very hard to read for untrained Modern Dutch speakers, the various literary works of Middle Dutch are somewhat more accessible. The most notable difference between Old and Middle Dutch is in a feature of speech known as vowel reduction. Round vowels in word-final syllables are rather frequent in Old Dutch; in Middle Dutch, such vowels are leveled to a schwa. The Middle Dutch dialect areas were affected by political boundaries. The sphere of political influence of a certain ruler often also created a sphere of linguistic influence, with the language within the area becoming more homogenous. Following the contemporary political divisions they are in order of importance: * West Flemish with the County of Flanders at its centre. It had been influential during the earlier Middle Ages (the "Flemish expansion") but lost prestige to the neighbouring Brabantian in the 13th century. * Brabantian dialect, Brabantian (and related East Flemish), spoken primarily in the Duchy of Brabant and adjacent parts. It was an influential dialect during most of the Middle Ages, during the so-called "Brabantian expansion" in which the influence of Brabant was extended outwards into other areas. * Hollandic dialect, Hollandic, which had the County of Holland as its heartland, where originally
Old Frisian Old Frisian was a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries in the area between the Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticl ...
was spoken. The people mixed with Frankish settlers from Flanders and Brabant and a new Frankish dialect with a Frisian Stratum (linguistics), substrate developed. It was less influential during most of the Middle Ages but became more so in the 16th century during the "Hollandic expansion"; the Eighty Years' War took place in the Southern Netherlands during this period. *
Limburgish Limburgish ( li, Lèmburgs ; nl, Limburgs ; german: Limburgisch ; french: Limbourgeois ), also called Limburgan, Limburgian, or Limburgic, is a West Germanic language spoken in the Dutch and Belgian provinces of Limburg and in the neighbouri ...
, spoken by the people in the modern-day provinces of Limburg (Netherlands), Dutch and Limburg (Belgium), Belgian Limburg, and adjacent lands in Germany. It was over time tied to different political areas and is therefore the most divergent of the dialects. It was even partly influenced by the High German consonant shift and is the most distant to the later developed standard language to which it contributed little. It was, however, the earliest Middle Dutch dialect that developed a literary tradition. * Since it is part of the Old Saxon and not Low Franconian (Old Dutch) area, Dutch Low Saxon is not strictly a Dutch dialect. However, it was influenced by Middle Dutch since the 14th century and it did play a part in the formation of the standard Dutch language in later periods. It was spoken in the Overijssel#Oversticht, Oversticht territories of the episcopal principality of Utrecht and adjacent parts of Guelders. A
dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of languag ...
remained present with Franconian areas to the west and Low Saxon areas to the east.


Modern Dutch (15th century–present)

A process of standard language, standardisation started in the Middle Ages, especially under the influence of the Burgundian Netherlands, Burgundian Ducal Court in Dijon (Brussels after 1477). The dialects of Flanders and Brabant were the most influential around this time. The process of standardisation became much stronger at the start of the 16th century, mainly based on the urban dialect of Antwerp. The 1585 fall of Antwerp to the Spanish army led to a flight to the northern Netherlands, where the Dutch Republic declared its independence from Spain. This influenced the urban dialects of the province of County of Holland, Holland. In 1637, a further important step was made towards a unified language, when the Statenvertaling, the first major Bible translation into Dutch, was created that people from all over the new republic could understand. It used elements from various, even Dutch Low Saxon, dialects but was predominantly based on the urban dialects of Holland of post 16th century. In the Southern Netherlands (now Belgium and Luxembourg), developments were different. Under subsequent Spanish Netherlands, Spanish, Austrian Netherlands, Austrian and French Revolutionary Wars, French rule, the standardisation of Dutch language came to a standstill. The state, law, and increasingly education used French, yet more than half the Belgian population were speaking a variety of Dutch. In the course of the nineteenth century, the Flemish Movement stood up for the rights of Dutch speakers, mostly referred to as "Flemish". However, the dialect variation was a serious disadvantage in the face of the standardised French language, francophony. Since standardisation is a lengthy process, Dutch-speaking Belgium associated itself with the standard language that had already developed in the Netherlands over the centuries. Therefore, the situation in Belgium is essentially no different from that in the Netherlands, although there are recognisable differences in pronunciation, comparable to the pronunciation differences between standard British and standard American English. In 1980 the Netherlands and Belgium concluded the Dutch Language Union, Language Union Treaty. This treaty lays down the principle that the two countries must gear their language policy to each other, among other things, for a common system of spelling.


Classification

*
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
**
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
*** West Germanic languages, West Germanic **** Low Franconian languages, Low Franconian ***** Dutch ****** Afrikaans, Dutch-based creole languages, Dutch-based creoles Dutch belongs to its own West Germanic languages, West Germanic sub-group, the Low Franconian languages, paired with its sister language Limburgish or East Low Franconian. Its closest relative is the mutual intelligibility, mutually intelligible daughter language Afrikaans. Other West Germanic languages related to Dutch are
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, English and the Frisian languages and the un-standardised languages Low German and Yiddish. Dutch stands out in combining some Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law, Ingvaeonic characteristics (occurring consistently in English and Frisian and reduced in intensity from west to east over the continental West Germanic plane) with dominant Istvaeonic characteristics, some of which are also incorporated in German. Unlike German, Dutch (apart from Limburgish) has not been influenced at all by the south to north movement of the
High German consonant shift In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes ...
and had some changes of its own.Friedrich Maurer uses the term ''
Istvaeonic Weser-Rhine Germanic is a term introduced by the German linguist Friedrich Maurer for the group of prehistoric West Germanic dialects ancestral to Dutch and to the West Central German West Central German (german: Westmitteldeutsch) belongs to ...
'' instead of Franconian; see Friedrich Maurer (1942), ''Nordgermanen und Alemannen: Studien zur germanischen und frühdeutschen Sprachgeschichte, Stammes- und Volkskunde'', Bern: Verlag Francke.
The cumulation of these changes resulted over time in separate, but related standard languages with various degrees of similarities and differences between them. For a comparison between the West Germanic languages, see the sections Morphology, Grammar and Vocabulary.


Dialects

Dutch dialects are primarily the dialects that are both related with the Dutch language and are spoken in the same language area as the Dutch
standard language A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety In sociolinguistics, a variety, also called an isolect or lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include language ...
. Although heavily under the influence of the standard language, some of them remain remarkably diverse and are found in the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
and in the Brussels and Flemish regions of
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

Belgium
. The areas in which they are spoken often correspond with former mediaeval counties and duchies. The Netherlands (but not Belgium) distinguishes between a dialect and a ''streektaal'' ("regional language"). Those words are actually more political than linguistic because a regional language unites a large group of very different varieties. Such is the case with the Gronings dialect, which is considered a variety of the Dutch Low Saxon regional language, but it is relatively distinct from other Dutch Low Saxon varieties. Also, some Dutch dialects are more remote from the Dutch standard language than some varieties of a regional language are. Within the Netherlands, a further distinction is made between a regional language and a separate language, which is the case with the (standard language, standardised) West Frisian language. It is spoken alongside Dutch in the province of Friesland. Dutch dialects and regional languages are not spoken as often as they used to be, especially in the Netherlands. Recent research by Geert Driessen shows that the use of dialects and regional languages among both Dutch adults and youth is in heavy decline. In 1995, 27 percent of the Dutch adult population spoke a dialect or regional language on a regular basis, but in 2011, that was no more than 11 percent. In 1995, 12 percent of children of primary school age spoke a dialect or regional language, but in 2011, that had declined to 4 percent. Of the officially recognized regional languages Limburgish is spoken the most (in 2011 among adults 54%, among children 31%) and Dutch Low Saxon the least (adults 15%, children 1%). The decline of the West Frisian language in Friesland occupies a middle position (adults 44%, children 22%). Dialects are most often spoken in rural areas, but many cities have a distinct city dialect. For example, the city of Ghent has very distinct "g", "e" and "r" sounds that greatly differ from its surrounding villages. The Brussels dialect combines Brabantian with words adopted from Walloon language, Walloon and French language, French. Some dialects had, until recently, extensions across the borders of other standard language areas. In most cases, the heavy influence of the standard language has broken the
dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of languag ...
. Examples are the Gronings dialect spoken in Groningen (province), Groningen as well as the closely related varieties in adjacent East Frisia (Germany).
South Guelderish 200px, Nijmeegs/Liemers, North Limburgish and Kleverlander (all 3 in blue) crossing the Dutch-German border (red) South Guelderish ( nl, Zuid-Gelders, german: Südgeldersch, ''Kleverländisch'') refers to the easternmost group of Dutch language, ...
(''Zuid-Gelders'') is a dialect spoken in southern Gelderland, the northern tip of Limburg (Netherlands), Limburg, and northeast of North Brabant (Netherlands), but also in adjacent parts of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany).
Limburgish Limburgish ( li, Lèmburgs ; nl, Limburgs ; german: Limburgisch ; french: Limbourgeois ), also called Limburgan, Limburgian, or Limburgic, is a West Germanic language spoken in the Dutch and Belgian provinces of Limburg and in the neighbouri ...
(''Limburgs'') is spoken in Limburg (Belgium) as well as in the remaining part of Limburg (Netherlands) and extends across the German border. West Flemish (''Westvlaams'') is spoken in West Flanders, the western part of Zeelandic Flanders and also in French Flanders, where it virtually became extinct to make way for French.


Dialect groups

The ''West Flemish'' group of dialects, spoken in West Flanders and Zeeland, is so distinct that it might be considered as a separate language variant, although the strong significance of language in Belgian politics would prevent the government from classifying them as such. An oddity of the dialect is that, the voiced velar fricative (written as "g" in Dutch) shifts to a voiced glottal fricative (written as "h" in Dutch), while the letter "h" becomes mute (like in French). As a result, when West Flemings try to talk Standard Dutch, they are often unable to pronounce the g-sound, and pronounce it similar to the h-sound. This leaves, for example, no difference between "held" (hero) and "geld" (money). Or in some cases, they are aware of the problem, and hyper-correct the "h" into a voiced velar fricative or g-sound, again leaving no difference. The West Flemish variety historically spoken in adjacent parts in France is sometimes called
French Flemish French Flemish (French Flemish: , Dutch language, Standard Dutch: , french: flamand français) is a West Flemish dialect spoken in the north of contemporary France. Place names attest to Flemish having been spoken since the 8th century in the p ...
and is listed as a French minority language. However, only a very small and aging minority of the French-Flemish population still speaks and understands West Flemish. ''Hollandic dialect, Hollandic'' is spoken in Holland and Utrecht, though the original forms of this dialect (which were heavily influenced by a West Frisian Stratum (linguistics)#Substratum, substratum and, from the 16th century on, by Brabantian dialects) are now relatively rare. The urban dialects of the Randstad, which are Hollandic dialects, do not diverge from standard Dutch very much, but there is a clear difference between the city dialects of Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht. In some rural Hollandic areas more authentic Hollandic dialects are still being used, especially north of Amsterdam. Another group of dialects based on Hollandic is that spoken in the cities and larger towns of Friesland, where it partially displaced West Frisian language, West Frisian in the 16th century and is known as Stadsfries dialects, Stadsfries ("Urban Frisian"). Hollandic together with inter alia
South Guelderish 200px, Nijmeegs/Liemers, North Limburgish and Kleverlander (all 3 in blue) crossing the Dutch-German border (red) South Guelderish ( nl, Zuid-Gelders, german: Südgeldersch, ''Kleverländisch'') refers to the easternmost group of Dutch language, ...
and North Brabantian, but without Stadsfries, are the Central Dutch dialects. ''Brabantian language, Brabantian'' is named after the historical Duchy of Brabant, which corresponded mainly to the provinces of North Brabant and southern Gelderland, the Belgian provinces of Antwerp (province), Antwerp and Flemish Brabant, as well as Brussels (where its native speakers have become a minority) and the province of Walloon Brabant. Brabantian expands into small parts in the west of Limburg (Belgium), Limburg while its strong influence on the East Flemish of East Flanders and eastern Zeelandic Flanders weakens towards the west. In a small area in the northwest of North Brabant (Willemstad (North Brabant), Willemstad), Hollandic is spoken. Conventionally, the
South Guelderish 200px, Nijmeegs/Liemers, North Limburgish and Kleverlander (all 3 in blue) crossing the Dutch-German border (red) South Guelderish ( nl, Zuid-Gelders, german: Südgeldersch, ''Kleverländisch'') refers to the easternmost group of Dutch language, ...
dialects are distinguished from Brabantian, but there are no objective criteria apart from geography to do so. Over 5 million people live in an area with some form of Brabantian being the predominant colloquial language out of the area's 22 million Dutch-speakers. ''
Limburgish Limburgish ( li, Lèmburgs ; nl, Limburgs ; german: Limburgisch ; french: Limbourgeois ), also called Limburgan, Limburgian, or Limburgic, is a West Germanic language spoken in the Dutch and Belgian provinces of Limburg and in the neighbouri ...
'', spoken in both Limburg (Belgium), Belgian Limburg and Limburg (Netherlands), Netherlands Limburg and in adjacent parts in Germany, is considered a dialect in Belgium, while having obtained the official status of regional language in the Netherlands. Limburgish has been influenced by the Ripuarian language, Ripuarian varieties like the Colognian dialect, and has had a somewhat different development since the late Middle Ages.


Regional languages

Two dialect groups have been given the official status of regional language (or ''streektaal'') in the Netherlands. Like several other dialect groups, both are part of a dialect continuum that continues across the national border.


Dutch Low Saxon

The Dutch Low Saxon dialect area comprises the provinces of Groningen (province), Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel, as well as parts of the provinces of Gelderland, Flevoland, Friesland and Utrecht. This group, which is not Low Franconian but instead Low Saxon and close to neighbouring Low German, has been elevated by the Netherlands (and by Germany) to the legal status of ''streektaal'' (regional language) according to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. It is regarded as Dutch for a number of reasons. From the 14th to 15th century onward, its urban centers (Deventer, Zwolle, Kampen, Overijssel, Kampen, Zutphen and Doesburg) have been increasingly influenced by the western written Dutch and became a linguistically mixed area. From the 17th century onward, it was gradually integrated into the Dutch language area. Dutch Low Saxon used to be at one end of the Low German
dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of languag ...
. However, the national border has given way to dialect boundaries coinciding with a political border, because the traditional dialects are strongly influenced by the national standard varieties. Cross-the-border dialects now separated by a plain gap also include
South Guelderish 200px, Nijmeegs/Liemers, North Limburgish and Kleverlander (all 3 in blue) crossing the Dutch-German border (red) South Guelderish ( nl, Zuid-Gelders, german: Südgeldersch, ''Kleverländisch'') refers to the easternmost group of Dutch language, ...
and Limburgish on the Dutch side of the border and Meuse-Rhenish on the German side of the border.


Limburgish

While a somewhat heterogeneous group of Low Franconian languages, Low Franconian dialects, Limburgish has received official status as a regional language in the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
and Germany, but not in Belgium. Due to this official recognition, it receives protection by chapter 2 of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.


Daughter and sister languages

Afrikaans Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 5 ...
, although to a significant degree mutually intelligible with Dutch, is not a dialect but a separate standard language, standardised language. It is spoken in South Africa and Namibia. As a daughter language of Dutch, Afrikaans evolved mainly from 17th century Dutch dialects, but was influenced by various Afrikaans#History, other languages in South Africa. ''West Frisian language, West Frisian'' (''Westerlauwers Fries''), along with Saterland Frisian language, Saterland Frisian and North Frisian language, North Frisian, evolved from the same branch of the West Germanic languages as
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
(i.e. Anglo-Frisian languages, Anglo-Frisian) and are therefore genetically more closely related to English and Scots than to Dutch. The different influences on the respective languages, however, particularly that of Norman French on English and Dutch on West Frisian, have rendered English quite distinct from West Frisian, and West Frisian less distinct from Dutch than from English. Although under heavy influence of the Dutch standard language, it is not mutually intelligible with Dutch and considered a sister language of Dutch, like English and German.


Geographic distribution

Dutch is an official language of the Netherlands proper, Belgium, Suriname, the Dutch Caribbean municipalities (St. Eustatius, Saba and Bonaire),
Aruba Aruba ( , , ) is an island and a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands , national_anthem = ) , image_map = Kingdom of the Netherlands (orthographic projection).svg , map_width = 250px , image_map2 = File:KonDerNed-10-10- ...

Aruba
,
Curaçao Curaçao ( ; ; pap, Kòrsou, ) is a Lesser Antilles The Lesser Antilles ( es, link=no, Antillas Menores; french: link=no, Petites Antilles; pap, Antias Menor; nl, Kleine Antillen) are a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea The Cari ...
and
Sint Maarten Sint Maarten (, ) is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands , national_anthem = ) , image_map = Kingdom of the Netherlands (orthographic projection).svg , map_width = 250px , image_map2 = File:KonDerNed-10-10-10.png , ...

Sint Maarten
. Dutch is also an official language of several international organisations, such as the European Union, Union of South American Nations and the Caribbean Community. At an academic level, Dutch is taught in about 175 universities in 40 countries. About 15,000 students worldwide study Dutch at university.


Europe

In Europe, Dutch is the majority language in the Netherlands (96%) and Belgium (59%) as well as a minority language in Germany and northern France's French Flanders. Though Belgium as a whole is multilingual, the four Communities, regions and language areas of Belgium, language areas into which the country is divided (
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...

Flanders
, francophone Wallonia, bilingual Brussels and the German-speaking Community of Belgium, German-speaking Community) are largely monolingual. The Netherlands and Belgium produce the vast majority of music, films, books and other media written or spoken in Dutch. Dutch is a Pluricentric language, monocentric language, at least what concerns its written form, with all speakers using the same standardization, standard form (authorized by the Dutch Language Union) based on a Dutch orthography defined in the so-called "Green Booklet" authoritative dictionary and employing the Latin alphabet when writing; however, pronunciation varies between dialects. Indeed, in stark contrast to its written uniformity, Dutch lacks a unique Prestige (sociolinguistics), prestige dialect and has a large dialectal continuum consisting of 28 main dialects, which can themselves be further divided into at least 600 distinguishable varieties. In the Netherlands, the Hollandic dialect dominates in national broadcast media while in Flanders Brabantian dialect dominates in that capacity, making them in turn unofficial prestige dialects in their respective countries. Outside the Netherlands and Belgium, the dialect spoken in and around the German town of Kleve (
South Guelderish 200px, Nijmeegs/Liemers, North Limburgish and Kleverlander (all 3 in blue) crossing the Dutch-German border (red) South Guelderish ( nl, Zuid-Gelders, german: Südgeldersch, ''Kleverländisch'') refers to the easternmost group of Dutch language, ...
) is historically and genetically a Low Franconian variety. In North-Western France, the area around Calais was historically Dutch-speaking (West Flemish), of which an estimated 20,000 are daily speakers. The cities of Dunkirk, Gravelines and Bourbourg only became predominantly French-speaking by the end of the 19th century. In the countryside, until World War I, many elementary schools continued to teach in Dutch, and the Catholic Church continued to preach and teach the catechism in Dutch in many parishes. During the second half of the 19th century, Dutch was banned from all levels of education by both Prussia and France and lost most of its functions as a cultural language. In both Germany and France, the Dutch standard language is largely absent, and speakers of these Dutch dialects will use German or French in everyday speech. Dutch is not afforded legal status in France or Germany, either by the central or regional public authorities, and knowledge of the language is declining among younger generations. As a foreign language, Dutch is mainly taught in primary and secondary schools in areas adjacent to the Netherlands and
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...

Flanders
. In French Community of Belgium, French-speaking Belgium, over 300,000 pupils are enrolled in Dutch courses, followed by over 23,000 in the States of Germany, German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, and about 7,000 in the Regions of France, French region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais (of which 4,550 are in primary school). At an academic level, the largest number of faculties of ''neerlandistiek'' can be found in Germany (30 universities), followed by France (20 universities) and the United Kingdom (5 universities).


Asia and Australasia


Asia

Despite the Dutch presence in Indonesia for almost 350 years, as the Asian bulk of the Dutch East Indies, the Dutch language has no official status there and the small minority that can speak the language fluently are either educated members of the oldest generation, or employed in the legal profession, as certain law codes are still only available in Dutch. Dutch is taught in various educational centres in Indonesia, the most important of which is the Erasmus Language Centre (ETC) in Jakarta. Each year, some 1,500 to 2,000 students take Dutch courses there. In total, several thousand Indonesians study Dutch as a foreign language. Owing to centuries of Dutch rule in Indonesia, many old documents are written in Dutch. Many universities therefore include Dutch as a source language, mainly for law and history students. In Indonesia this involves about 35,000 students. Unlike other European nations, the Dutch chose not to follow a policy of language expansion amongst the indigenous peoples of their colonies. In the last quarter of the 19th century, however, a local elite gained Language proficiency, proficiency in Dutch so as to meet the needs of expanding bureaucracy and business. Nevertheless, the Dutch government remained reluctant to teach Dutch on a large scale for fear of destabilising the colony. Dutch, the language of power, was supposed to remain in the hands of the leading elite. After independence, Dutch was dropped as an official language and replaced by Malay. Yet the Indonesian language inherited many words from Dutch: words for everyday life as well as scientific and technological terms. One scholar argues that 20% of Indonesian words can be traced back to Dutch words, many of which are transliterated to reflect phonetic pronunciation e.g. ' "office" in Indonesian is ''kantor'', while ''bus'' "bus" becomes ''bis''. In addition, many Indonesian words are
calque In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...

calque
s of Dutch; for example, ''rumah sakit'' "hospital" is calqued on the Dutch ''ziekenhuis'' (literally "sickhouse"), ''kebun binatang'' "zoo" on ''dierentuin'' (literally "animal garden"), ''undang-undang dasar'' "constitution" from ''grondwet'' (literally "ground law"). These account for some of the Differences between Malay and Indonesian#Vocabulary differences, differences in vocabulary between Indonesian and Malay.


Australasia

After the declaration of independence of Indonesia, Western New Guinea, the "wild east" of the Dutch East Indies, remained a Dutch colony until 1962, known as Netherlands New Guinea. Despite prolonged Dutch presence, the Dutch language is not spoken by many Papuans, the colony having been ceded to Indonesia in 1963. Dutch-speaking immigrant communities can also be found in Australia and New Zealand. The Census in Australia, 2011 Australian census showed 37,248 people speaking Dutch at home. At the 2006 New Zealand census, 26,982 people, or 0.70 percent of the total population, reported to speak Dutch to sufficient fluency that they could hold an everyday conversation.


Americas

In contrast to the colonies in the Dutch East Indies, East Indies, from the second half of the 19th century onwards, the Netherlands envisaged the expansion of Dutch in its colonies in the Caribbean, West Indies. Until 1863, when slavery was abolished in the West Indies, slaves were forbidden to speak Dutch, with the effect that local creoles such as Papiamento and Sranan Tongo which were based not on Dutch but rather other European languages, became common in the Dutch West Indies. However, as most of the people in the Surinam (Dutch colony), Colony of Surinam (now
Suriname Suriname (, sometimes spelled Surinam), officially known as the Republic of Suriname ( nl, Republiek Suriname ), is a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America. Borders of Suriname, It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the ...

Suriname
) worked on Dutch plantations, this reinforced the use of Dutch as a means for direct communication. In
Suriname Suriname (, sometimes spelled Surinam), officially known as the Republic of Suriname ( nl, Republiek Suriname ), is a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America. Borders of Suriname, It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the ...

Suriname
today, Dutch is the sole official language, and over 60 percent of the population speaks it as a First language, mother tongue. Dutch is the obligatory medium of instruction in schools in Suriname, even for non-native speakers. A further twenty-four percent of the population speaks Dutch as a second language. Suriname gained its independence from the Netherlands in 1975 and has been an associate member of the Dutch Language Union since 2004. The lingua franca of Suriname, however, is Sranan Tongo, spoken natively by about a fifth of the population.Recognition of Surinamese-Dutch (''Surinaams-Nederlands'') as an equal natiolect was expressed in 1976 by the publication of the ''Woordenboek van het Surinaams-Nederlands – een geannoteerde lijst van Surinaams-Nederlandse woorden en uitdrukkingen'' (''Dictionary of Surinam Dutch – an annotated list of Surinam-Dutch words and expressions''), see Johannes van Donselaar ''Woordenboek van het Surinaams-Nederlands – een geannoteerde lijst van Surinaams-Nederlandse woorden en uitdrukkingen'', Utrecht : Instituut A. W. de Groot voor Algemene Taalwetenschap van de Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht (1976), Amsterdam, E.T.Rap (1977) , published in 1989 as the ''Woordenboek van het Surinaams-Nederlands'' (''Dictionary of Surinam Dutch''), by Van Donselaar, and later by the publication of the ''Woordenboek Surinaams Nederlands'' (''Dictionary Surinam Dutch'') in 2009 (editor Renata de Bies, in cooperation with lexicologists Willy Martin en Willy Smedts), which was previously published as the ''Woordenboek van de Surinaamse Bijdrage aan het Nederlands'' (''Dictionary of the Surinam Contribution to Dutch"''). In
Aruba Aruba ( , , ) is an island and a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands , national_anthem = ) , image_map = Kingdom of the Netherlands (orthographic projection).svg , map_width = 250px , image_map2 = File:KonDerNed-10-10- ...

Aruba
, Bonaire,
Curaçao Curaçao ( ; ; pap, Kòrsou, ) is a Lesser Antilles The Lesser Antilles ( es, link=no, Antillas Menores; french: link=no, Petites Antilles; pap, Antias Menor; nl, Kleine Antillen) are a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea The Cari ...
and
Sint Maarten Sint Maarten (, ) is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands , national_anthem = ) , image_map = Kingdom of the Netherlands (orthographic projection).svg , map_width = 250px , image_map2 = File:KonDerNed-10-10-10.png , ...

Sint Maarten
, all parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dutch is the official language but spoken as a first language by only 7% to 8% of the population, although most native-born people on the islands can speak the language since the education system is in Dutch at some or all levels. In the United States, a now extinct dialect of Dutch, Jersey Dutch, spoken by descendants of 17th-century Dutch settlers in Bergen and Passaic counties, was still spoken as late as 1921. Other Dutch-based creole languages once spoken in the Americas include Mohawk Dutch (in Albany, New York), Berbice Creole Dutch, Berbice (in Guyana), Skepi Creole Dutch, Skepi (in Essequibo (colony), Essequibo, Guyana) and Negerhollands (in the United States Virgin Islands). Pennsylvania Dutch is not a member of the set of Dutch dialects and is less misleadingly called Pennsylvania German language, Pennsylvania German. Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States, spoke Dutch natively and is the only U.S. president whose first language was not English. Dutch prevailed for many generations as the dominant language in parts of New York (state), New York along the Hudson River. Another famous American born in this region who spoke Dutch as a first language was Sojourner Truth. According to the 2000 United States Census, 2000 United States census, 150,396 people spoke Dutch at home, while according to the Canada 2006 Census, 2006 Canadian census, this number reaches 160,000 Dutch speakers. At an academic level, 20 universities offer Dutch studies in the United States. In Canada, Dutch is the fourth most spoken language by farmers, after English, French and German, and the fifth most spoken non-official language overall (by 0.6% of Canadians).


Africa

The largest legacy of the Dutch language lies in South Africa, which attracted large numbers of Dutch, Flemish and other northwest European farmer (in Dutch, ''boer'') settlers, all of whom were quickly assimilated. The long isolation from the rest of the Dutch-speaking world made the Dutch as spoken in Southern Africa evolve into what is now Afrikaans. In 1876, the first Afrikaans newspaper called ''Die Afrikaanse Patriot'' was published in the Cape Colony. European Dutch remained the literary language until the start of the 1920s, when under pressure of Afrikaner nationalism the local "African" Dutch was preferred over the written, European-based standard. In 1925, section 137 of the 1909 constitution of the Union of South Africa was amended by Act 8 of 1925, stating "the word ''Dutch'' in article 137 ... is hereby declared to include Afrikaans". The constitution of 1983 only listed English and Afrikaans as official languages. It is estimated that between 90% to 95% of Afrikaans vocabulary is ultimately of Dutch origin. Both languages are still largely mutually intelligible, although this relation can in some fields (such as lexicon, spelling and grammar) be asymmetric, as it is easier for Dutch speakers to understand written Afrikaans than it is for Afrikaans speakers to understand written Dutch. Afrikaans is grammatically far less complex than Dutch, and vocabulary items are generally altered in a clearly patterned manner, e.g. ''vogel'' becomes ''voël'' ("bird") and ''regen'' becomes ''reën'' ("rain"). In South Africa, the number of students following Dutch at university is difficult to estimate, since the academic study of Afrikaans inevitably includes the study of Dutch. Elsewhere in the world, the number of people learning Dutch is relatively small. Afrikaans is the third largest language of South Africa in terms of native speakers (~13.5%),Key results of the 2011 census
Statistics South Africa
of whom 53% are Coloureds and 42.4% White South Africans, Whites. In 1996, 40 percent of South Africans reported to know Afrikaans at least at a very basic level of communication. It is the lingua franca in Namibia, where it is spoken natively in 11 percent of households. In total, Afrikaans is the first language in South Africa alone of about 7.1 million people and is estimated to be a second language for at least 10 million people worldwide, compared to over 23 million and 5 million respectively, for Dutch. The Dutch colonial presence elsewhere in Africa, notably Dutch Gold Coast, was too ephemeral not to be wiped out by prevailing colonizing European successors. Belgian colonial presence in Belgian Congo, Congo and Rwanda-Urundi (Burundi and Rwanda, held under League of Nations mandate and later a UN trust territory) left little Dutch (Flemish) legacy, as French was the main colonial language.


Phonology

For further details on different realisations of phonemes, dialectal differences and example words, see the full article at Dutch phonology.


Consonants

Unlike other Germanic languages, Dutch has no phonological Aspirated consonants, aspiration of consonants. Like most other Germanic languages, the Dutch consonant system did not undergo the
High German consonant shift In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes ...
and has a syllable structure that allows fairly-complex consonant clusters. Dutch also retains full use of the velar consonant, velar fricatives of
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
that were lost or modified in many other Germanic languages. Dutch has
final-obstruent devoicing Final-obstruent devoicing or terminal devoicing is a systematic phonological process occurring in languages such as Catalan, German, Dutch, Breton, Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, Turkish, and Wolof. In such languages, voiced obstruentAn ob ...
. At the end of a word, voicing distinction is neutralised and all obstruents are pronounced voiceless. For example, Dutch ' (̇‘good’) is but the related form ' is . Dutch shares this
final-obstruent devoicing Final-obstruent devoicing or terminal devoicing is a systematic phonological process occurring in languages such as Catalan, German, Dutch, Breton, Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, Turkish, and Wolof. In such languages, voiced obstruentAn ob ...
with German (the Dutch noun ''goud'' is pronounced [ɣɑut], the adjective ''gouden'' is pronounced [ɣɑudə(n)], like the German noun ''Gold'', pronounced [ɡɔlt], adjective ''golden'', pronounced [ɡɔldn] vs English ''gold'' and ''golden'', both pronounced with [d].) Voicing of pre-vocalic initial voiceless alveolar fricatives occurs although less in Dutch than in German (Dutch ', German ' with versus English ''seven'' and Low German ' with [s]), and also the shift → . Dutch shares only with Low German the development of → (Dutch ', ' and Low German ', ' versus German ', ' and English ''foxes'', ''oxen''), and also the development of → though it is far more common in Dutch (Dutch ' and Low German ' versus German ' and English ''soft'', but Dutch ' versus German ' and English ''craft''). Notes: * is not a separate phoneme in Dutch, but is inserted before vowel-initial syllables within words after and and often also at the beginning of a word. * The realization of phoneme varies considerably from dialect to dialect and even between speakers in the same dialect area. Common realisations are an alveolar trill , alveolar tap , uvular trill , voiced uvular fricative , and alveolar approximant . * The realization of also varies somewhat by area and speaker. The main realisation is a labiodental approximant , but some speakers, particularly in the south, use a Voiced bilabial fricative, bilabial approximant or a Voiced labio-velar approximant, labiovelar approximant . * The lateral is slightly velarized postvocalically in most dialects, particularly in the north. * and may be true velars and , uvular and or palatal and . The more palatal realisations are common in southern areas, and uvulars are common in the north. * Some northern dialects have a tendency to devoice all fricatives, regardless of environment, which is particularly common with but can affect others as well. * and are not native phonemes of Dutch and usually occur in borrowed words, like ' and ' (‘baggage’), but may occur if and are palatalised. * is not a native phoneme of Dutch and occurs only in borrowed words, like '.


Vowels

Like English, Dutch did not develop i-mutation as a morphological marker and shares with most other Germanic languages the lengthening of short vowels in stress (linguistics), stressed open syllables, which has led to contrastive vowel length being used as a morphological marker. Dutch has an extensive vowel inventory. Vowels can be grouped as back rounded, front unrounded and front rounded. They are also traditionally distinguished by length or tenseness. Vowel length is not always considered a distinctive feature in Dutch phonology because it normally occurs with changes in vowel formant, quality. One feature or the other may be considered redundant, and some phonemic analyses prefer to treat it as an opposition of tenseness. However, even if it is not considered part of the phonemic opposition, the long/tense vowels are still realised as ''phonetically'' longer than their short counterparts. The changes in vowel quality are also not always the same in all dialects, some of which may be little difference at all, with length remaining the primary distinguishing feature. Although all older words pair vowel length with a change in vowel quality, new loanwords have reintroduced phonemic oppositions of length. Compare ''zonne(n)'' ("suns") versus ''zone'' ("zone") versus ''zonen'' ("sons"), or ''kroes'' ("mug") versus ''cruise'' ("cruise"). Notes: * The distinction between and is only slight and may be considered allophonic for most purposes. However, some recent loanwords have introduced distinctively-long , making the length distinction marginally phonemic. * The long close-mid vowels are realised as slightly closing diphthongs in many northern dialects. * The long open-mid vowels occur only in a handful of loanwords, mostly from French. In certain Belgian Dutch varieties, they may also occur as realisations of . * The long close and close-mid vowels are often pronounced more closed or as centering diphthongs before an in the syllable coda, which may occur before coda as well.


Diphthongs

Unique to the development of Dutch is the collapse of older ''ol''/''ul''/''al'' + dental consonant, dental into ''ol'' + dental, followed by vocalisation of pre-consonantal /l/ and after a short vowel. That created the diphthong : Dutch ''goud'', ''zout'' and ''bout'' corresponds with Low German ''Gold'', ''Solt'', ''Bolt''; German ''Gold'', ''Salz'', ''Balt'' and English ''gold'', ''salt'', ''bolt''. It is the most common diphthong, along with . All three are the only ones commonly considered unique phonemes in Dutch. The tendency for native English speakers is to pronounce Dutch names with (written as ''ij'' or ''ei'') as , (like the English "long i"), which does not normally lead to confusion for native listeners since in a number of dialects (such as in Amsterdam), the same pronunciation is heard. In contrast, and are rare in Dutch. The "long/tense" diphthongs are indeed realised as proper diphthongs but are generally analysed phonemically as a long/tense vowel, followed by a glide or . All diphthongs end in a close vowel () and are grouped here by their first element.


Phonotactics

The syllable structure of Dutch is (C)(C)(C)V(C)(C)(C)(C). Many words, as in English, begin with three consonants: ''straat'' (street). There are words that end in four consonants: ''herfst'' (autumn), ''ergst'' (worst), ''interessantst'' (most interesting), ''sterkst'' (strongest), the last three of which are superlative adjectives. The highest number of consonants in a single cluster is found in the word ''slechtstschrijvend'' (writing worst), with seven consonant phonemes. ''angstschreeuw'' (scream in fear) has six in a row.


Polder Dutch

A notable change in pronunciation has been occurring in younger generations in the Dutch provinces of Utrecht (province), Utrecht, North Holland, North and South Holland, which has been dubbed "Polder Dutch" by Jan Stroop. Such speakers pronounce , and , which used to be pronounced respectively as , , and , as increasingly lowered to , , and respectively. In addition, the same speakers pronounce , , and as the diphthongs , , and respectively, making the change an example of a chain shift. The change is interesting from a sociolinguistic point of view because it has apparently happened relatively recently, in the 1970s and was pioneered by older well-educated women from the upper middle classes. The lowering of the diphthongs has long been current in many Dutch dialects and is comparable to the English Great Vowel Shift and the diphthongisation of long high vowels in Modern German language, High German, which had centuries earlier reached the state now found in Polder Dutch. Stroop theorizes that the lowering of open-mid to open diphthongs is a phonetically "natural" and inevitable development and that Dutch, after it had diphthongised the long high vowels like German and English, "should" have lowered the diphthongs like German and English as well. Instead, he argues that the development has been artificially frozen in an "intermediate" state by the standardisation of Dutch pronunciation in the 16th century in which lowered diphthongs found in rural dialects were perceived as ugly by the educated classes and were accordingly declared substandard. Now, however, he thinks that the newly-affluent and independent women can afford to let that natural development take place in their speech. Stroop compares the role of Polder Dutch with the urban variety of British English pronunciation called Estuary English. Among Belgian and Surinamese people, Surinamese Dutch-speakers and speakers from other regions in the Netherlands, this vowel shift is not taking place.


Grammar

Dutch is grammatically similar to German grammar, German, such as in syntax and verb Morphology (linguistics), morphology (for verb morphology in English verbs, Dutch and German, see Germanic weak verb and Germanic strong verb). Grammatical cases have largely become limited to pronouns and many set phrases. Inflected forms of the articles are often grace surnames and toponyms. Standard Dutch uses three Gender in Dutch grammar, genders across natural and grammatical genders but for most non-Belgian speakers, masculine and feminine have merged to form the common gender (with ''de'' for "the"). The neuter (which uses ''het'') remains distinct. This is similar to those of most North Germanic languages#Classification, Continental Scandinavian tongues. Less so than English, inflectional grammar (such as in adjectival and noun endings) has simplified.


Verbs and tenses

When grouped according to their conjugational class, Dutch has four main verb types: Germanic weak verb, weak verbs, Germanic strong verb, strong verbs, irregular verbs and mixed verbs. Weak verbs are most numerous, constituting about 60% of all verbs. In these, the past tense and past participle are formed with a dental suffix: * Weak verbs with past in ''-de'' * Weak verbs with past in ''-te'' Strong verbs are the second most numerous verb group. This group is characterised by a vowel alternation of the stem in the past tense and perfect participle. Dutch distinguishes between 7 classes, comprising almost all strong verbs, with some internal variants. Dutch has many 'half strong verbs': these have a weak past tense and a strong participle or a strong past tense and a weak participle. The following table shows the vowel alternations in more detail. It also shows the number of roots (bare verbs) that belong to each class, variants with a prefix are excluded.


Genders and cases

As in English, the case system of Dutch and the subjunctive have largely fallen out of use, and the system has generalised the dative over the accusative case (linguistics), case for certain pronouns (NL: ''me'', ''je''; EN: ''me'', ''you''; LI: ''mi'', ''di'' vs. DE: ''mich/mir'', ''dich/dir''). While standard Dutch has three grammatical genders, this has few consequences and the masculine and feminine gender are usually merged into a common gender in the Netherlands but not in Belgium (EN: none; NL/LI: common and neuter; in Belgium masculine, feminine and neuter is in use). Modern Dutch has mostly lost its case system. However, certain idioms and expressions continue to include now archaic case declensions. The article has just two forms, ''de'' and ''het'', more complex than English, which has only ''the''. The use of the older inflected form ''den'' in the dative and accusative, as well as use of ''der'' in the dative, is restricted to numerous set phrases, surnames and toponyms. In modern Dutch, the genitive articles ''des'' and ''der'' in the bottom line are commonly used in idioms. Other usage is typically considered archaic, poetic or stylistic. One must know whether a noun is masculine or feminine to use them correctly. In most circumstances, the preposition ''van'', the middle line, is instead used, followed by the normal article ''de'' or ''het'', and in that case it makes no difference whether a word is masculine or feminine. . For the idiomatic use of the articles in the genitive, see for example: * Masculine singular: "des duivels" (''lit'': "of the devil") (common proverbial meaning: Seething with rage) * Feminine singular: het woordenboek der Friese taal ("the dictionary of the Frisian language") * Neuter singular: de vrouw des huizes ("the lady of the house") * Plural: de voortgang der werken ("the progress of (public) works") In contemporary usage, the genitive case still occurs a little more often with plurals than with singulars, as the plural article is ''der'' for all genders and no special noun inflection must be taken account of. ''Der'' is commonly used in order to avoid reduplication of ''van'', e.g. ''het merendeel der gedichten van de auteur'' instead of ''het merendeel van de gedichten van de auteur'' ("the bulk of the author's poems"). There is also a genitive form for the pronoun ''die/dat'' ("that [one], those [ones]"), namely ''diens'' for masculine and neuter singulars (occurrences of ''dier'' for feminine singular and all plurals are extremely rare). Although usually avoided in common speech, this form can be used instead of possessive pronouns to avoid confusion. Compare: * ''Hij vertelde over zijn zoon en zijn vrouw''. – He told about his son and his (own) wife. * ''Hij vertelde over zijn zoon en diens vrouw''. – He told about his son and the latter's wife. Analogically, the relative and interrogative pronoun ''wie'' ("who") has the genitive forms ''wiens'' and ''wier'' (corresponding to English ''whose'', but less frequent in use). Dutch also has a range of fixed expressions that make use of the genitive articles, which can be abbreviated using apostrophes. Common examples include "'s ochtends" (with 's as abbreviation of ''des''; "in the morning") and ''desnoods'' (lit: "of the need", translated: "if necessary"). The Dutch written grammar has simplified over the past 100 years: grammatical case, cases are now mainly used for the pronouns, such as ''ik'' (I), ''mij, me'' (me), ''mijn'' (my), ''wie'' (who), ''wiens'' (whose: masculine or neuter singular), ''wier'' (whose: feminine singular; masculine, feminine or neuter plural). Nouns and adjectives are not case inflected (except for the genitive of proper nouns (names): -s, -'s or -'). In the spoken language cases and case inflections had already gradually disappeared from a much earlier date on (probably the 15th century) as in many continental West Germanic dialects. Inflection of adjectives is more complicated. The adjective receives no ending with indefinite neuter nouns in singular (as with ''een'' 'a/an'), and ''-e'' in all other cases. (This was also the case in Middle English, as in "a goode man".) ''Fiets'' belongs to the masculine/feminine category, while''water'' and ''huis'' are neuter. An adjective has no e if it is in the Predicative (adjectival or nominal), predicative: ''De soep is koud''. More complex inflection is still found in certain lexicalized expressions like ''de heer des huizes'' (literally, "the man of the house"), etc. These are usually remnants of cases (in this instance, the genitive case which is still used in German, cf. ''Der Herr des Hauses'') and other inflections no longer in general use today. In such lexicalized expressions remnants of strong and weak nouns can be found too, e.g. ''in het jaar des Heren'' (Anno Domini), where ''-en'' is actually the genitive ending of the weak noun. Similarly in some place names: ''Braine-le-Comte, ‌'s-Gravenbrakel, 's-Hertogenbosch, ‌'s-Hertogenbosch'', etc. (with weak genitives of ''graaf'' “count”, ''hertog'' “duke”). Also in this case, German German grammar#Irregular declensions, retains this feature.


Word order

Dutch shares much of its word order with German. Dutch exhibits subject–object–verb word order, but in main clauses the Dutch conjugation, conjugated verb is moved into the second position in what is known as verb second or V2 word order. This makes Dutch word order almost identical to that of German, but often different from English, which has subject–verb–object word order and has since lost the V2 word order that existed in
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
. An example sentence used in some Dutch language courses and textbooks is "''Ik kan mijn pen niet vinden omdat het veel te donker is''", which translates into English word for word as "''I can my pen not find because it far too dark is''", but in standard English word order would be written "''I cannot find my pen because it is far too dark''". If the sentence is split into a main and subclause and the verbs highlighted, the logic behind the word order can be seen. Main clause: "''Ik kan mijn pen niet vinden''" Verbs are placed in the final position, but the conjugated verb, in this case "kan" (can), is made the second element of the clause. Subclause: "''omdat het veel te donker is''" The verb or verbs always go in the final position. In an interrogative main clause the usual word order is: conjugated verb followed by subject; other verbs in final position: *"''Kun jij je pen niet vinden?''" (literally "''Can you your pen not find?''") "''Can't you find your pen?''" In the Dutch equivalent of a wh-question the word order is: interrogative pronoun (or expression) + conjugated verb + subject; other verbs in final position: *"''Waarom kun jij je pen niet vinden?''" ("''Why can you your pen not find?''") "''Why can't you find your pen?''" In a tag question the word order is the same as in a declarative clause: *"''Jij kunt je pen niet vinden?''" ("''You can your pen not find?''") "''You can't find your pen?''" A subordinate clause does not change its word order: *"''Kun jij je pen niet vinden omdat het veel te donker is?''" ("''Can you your pen not find because it far too dark is?''") "''Can you not find your pen because it's far too dark?''"


Diminutives

In Dutch, the diminutive is used extensively. The nuances of meaning expressed by the diminutive are a distinctive aspect of Dutch, and can be difficult for non-native speakers to master. It is very productive and formed by adding one of the affix, suffixes to the noun in question, depending on the latter's phonological ending: * ''-je'' for ending in -b, -c, -d, -t, -f, -g, -ch, -k, -p, -v, -x, -z or -s: neef → neef''je'' (''male cousin'', ''nephew'') * ''-pje'' for ending in -m: boom (''tree'') → boom''pje'' * ''-kje'' for ending in -ing if the preceding syllable carries the stress: koning (''king'') → konin''kje'' (the 'ng'-sound transforms into 'nk'); but ring → ring''etje'' (''ring''), and vondeling → vondeling''etje'' (''foundling'') without this stress pattern * ''-'' for ending in -h, -j, -l, -n, -r, -w, or a vowel other than -y: zoen → zoen' (''kiss''). A single open vowel is doubled when adding "-" would change the pronunciation: aut''o'' → aut''oo'' (''car''). *''-′'' for ending in -y and for abbreviations: baby → baby', cd → cd', A4 paper, A4 → A4' * ''-etje'' for ending in -b, -l, -n, -ng or -r preceded by a "short" (lax) vowel: bal → ball''etje'' (''ball''). Final consonant is doubled (except for -ng) to preserve the vowel's shortness. The diminutive suffixes ''-ke'' (from which ''-'' has derived by palatalization (sound change), palatalization), ''-eke'', ''-ske'', ''-'' (only for words ending -ch, -k, -p, or -s), ''-kie'' (instead of -kje), and ''-pie'' (instead of -pje) are used in southern dialects, and the forms ending on - as well in northern urban dialects. Some of these form part of expressions that became standard language, like ''een makkie'', from ge''mak'' = ''ease''). The noun joch (''young boy'') has, exceptionally, only the diminutive form jochie, also in standard Dutch. The form -ke is also found in many women's given names: Janneke, Marieke, Marijke, Mieke, Meike etc. In Dutch, the diminutive is not restricted to nouns, but can be applied to numeral (linguistics), numerals (''met z'n tweetjes'', "the two of us"), pronouns (''onderonsje'', "tête-à-tête"), verb, verbal particles (''moetje'', "shotgun marriage"), and even prepositions (''toetje'', "dessert"). Adjectives and adverbs commonly take diminutive forms; the former take a diminutive ending and thus function as nouns, while the latter remain adverbs and always have the diminutive with the ''-s'' appended, e.g. adjective: groen ("green") → noun: groen' ("rookie"); adverb: even ("a while") → adverb: even''tjes'' ("a little while"). Some nouns have two different diminutives, each with a different meaning: bloem (''flower'') → bloem''pje'' (lit. "small flower"), but bloem''etje'' (lit. also "small flower", meaning ''flower bouquet, bouquet''). A few nouns exist solely in a diminutive form, e.g. zeepaardje (''seahorse''), while many, e.g. meisje (''girl''), originally a diminutive of meid (''maid''), have acquired a meaning :nl:wikt:Categorie:Zelfstandig verkleinwoord, independent of their non-diminutive forms. A diminutive can sometimes be added to an uncountable noun to refer to a single portion: ijs (''ice'', ''ice cream'') → ijsje (''ice cream treat'', ''cone of ice cream''), bier (''beer'') → biertje. Some diminutive forms only exist in the plural, e.g. kleertjes (''clothing''). When used to refer to time, the Dutch diminutive form can indicate whether the person in question found it pleasant or not: ''een uur''tje'' kletsen'' (''chatting for a "little" hour.'') The diminutive can, however, also be used pejoratively: ''Hij was weer eens het "mannetje"''. (''He acted as if he was the "little" man.'') All diminutives (even lexicalised ones like "meisje" ''(girl)'') have neuter gender and take neuter concords: "''dit'' kleine meisje", not "''deze'' kleine meisje".


Pronouns and determiners

There are two series of personal pronouns, subject and objects pronouns. The forms on the right-hand sides within each column are the unemphatic forms; those not normally written are given in brackets. Only ''ons'' and ''u'' do not have an unemphatic form. The distinction between emphatic and unemphatic pronouns is very important in Dutch. Emphatic pronouns in English use the reflexive pronoun form, but are used to emphasize the subject, not to indicate a direct or indirect object. For example, "I gave (to) myself the money" is reflexive but "I myself gave the money (to someone else) " is emphatic. Like English, Dutch has generalised the dative over the accusative case for all pronouns, e.g. NL 'me', 'je', EN 'me', 'you', vs. DE 'mich'/'mir' 'dich'/'dir'. There is one exception: the standard language prescribes that in the third person plural, ''hen'' is to be used for the direct object, and ''hun'' for the indirect object. This distinction was artificially introduced in the 17th century by grammarians, and is largely ignored in spoken language and not well understood by Dutch speakers. Consequently, the third person plural forms ''hun'' and ''hen'' are interchangeable in normal usage, with ''hun'' being more common. The shared unstressed form ''ze'' is also often used as both direct and indirect objects and is a useful avoidance strategy when people are unsure which form to use. Dutch shares also with English the presence of h- pronouns, e.g. NL ''hij'', ''hem'', ''haar'', ''hen'', ''hun'' and EN ''he'', ''him'', ''her'' vs. DE ''er'', ''ihn'', ''ihr'', ''ihnen''.


Compounds

Like most Germanic languages, Dutch forms noun compound (linguistics), compounds, where the first noun modifies the category given by the second (''hondenhok'' = doghouse). Unlike English, where newer compounds or combinations of longer nouns are often written in open form with separating spaces, Dutch (like the other Germanic languages) either uses the closed form without spaces (''boomhut'' = tree house) or inserts a hyphen (''VVD-coryfee'' = outstanding member of the VVD, a political party). Like German, Dutch allows arbitrarily long compounds, but the longer they get, the less frequent they tend to be. The longest serious entry in the Van Dale dictionary is (ceasefire negotiation). Leafing through the articles of association (Statuten) one may come across a 30-letter (authorisation of representation). An even longer word cropping up in official documents is ''ziektekostenverzekeringsmaatschappij'' (health insurance company) though the shorter ''zorgverzekeraar'' (health insurer) is more common. Notwithstanding official spelling rules, some Dutch-speaking people, like some Scandinavians and German speakers, nowadays tend to write the parts of a compound separately, a practice sometimes dubbed ''de Engelse ziekte'' (the English disease).


Vocabulary

Dutch vocabulary is predominantly Germanic in origin, with loanwords accounting for 20%. The main foreign influence on Dutch vocabulary since the 12th century and culminating in the French period has been French and (northern) Langues d'oïl, Oïl languages, accounting for an estimated 6.8% of all words, or more than a third of all loanwords. Latin, which was spoken in the southern Low Countries for centuries and then played a major role as the language of science and religion, follows with 6.1%. High German and Low German were influential until the mid-19th century and account for 2.7%, but they are mostly unrecognizable since many have been "Dutchified": German ' → Dutch '. Dutch has borrowed words from English since the mid-19th century, as a consequence of the increasing power and influence of Britain and the United States. English loanwords are about 1.5%, but continue to increase. Many English loanwords become less visible over time as they are either gradually replaced by calques (''skyscraper'' became Dutch ''wolkenkrabber'') or neologisms (''bucket list'' became ''loodjeslijst''). Conversely, Dutch contributed many loanwords to English, accounting for 1.3% of its lexicon. The main Dutch dictionary is the ''Van Dale, Van Dale groot woordenboek der Nederlandse taal'', which contains some 268,826 headwords. In the field of linguistics, the 45,000-page ''Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal'' is also widely used. That scholarly endeavour took 147 years to complete and contains all recorded Dutch words from the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
onward.


Spelling and writing system

Dutch is written using the Latin script. Dutch uses one additional character beyond the standard alphabet, the digraph (orthography), digraph IJ (digraph), IJ. It has a relatively high proportion of doubled letters, both vowels and consonants, due to the formation of compound words and also to the spelling devices for distinguishing the many vowel sounds in the Dutch language. An example of five consecutive doubled letters is the word ''voorraaddoos'' (food storage container). The Diaeresis (diacritic), diaeresis (Dutch: ''trema'') is used to mark vowels that are pronounced separately when involving a pre- or suffix, and a hyphen is used when the problem occurs in compound words. For example; "''be''ïnvloed" (influenced), de zee''ën'' (the seas) but ''zee-eend'' (scoter; litt: sea duck). Generally, other diacritic, diacritical marks occur only in loanwords. However, the acute accent can also be used for emphasis or to differentiate between two forms, and its most common use is to differentiate between the indefinite article (grammar), article 'een' /ən/ (a, an) and the numeral 'één' /e:n/ (one). Since the 1980s, the Dutch Language Union has been given the mandate to review and make recommendations on the official spelling of Dutch. Spelling reforms undertaken by the union occurred in 1995 and 2005. In the Netherlands, the official spelling is currently given legal basis by the Spelling Act of 15 September 2005.see This came into force on 22 February 2006, replacing the Act on the Spelling of the Dutch Language of 14 February 1947. see The Spelling Act gives the Committee of Ministers of the Dutch Language Union the authority to determine the spelling of Dutch by ministerial decision. In addition, the law requires that this spelling be followed "at the governmental bodies, at educational institutions funded from the public purse, as well as at the exams for which legal requirements have been established". In other cases, it is recommended, but it is not mandatory to follow the official spelling. The Decree on the Spelling Regulations 2005 of 2006 contains the annexed spelling rules decided by the Committee of Ministers on 25 April 2005.see This decree entered into force on August 1, 2006, replacing the Spelling Decree of June 19, 1996. see In Flanders, the same spelling rules are currently applied by the Decree of the Flemish Government Establishing the Rules of the Official Spelling and Grammar of the Dutch language of 30 June 2006.see The ''Word list of the Dutch language, Woordenlijst Nederlandse taal'', more commonly known as "''het groene boekje''" (i.e. "the green booklet", because of its color), is the authoritative orthographic word list (without definitions) of the Dutch Language Union; a version with definitions can be had as ''Het Groene Woordenboek''; both are published by Sdu (publishing company), Sdu.


Dutch expressions


See also

* Bargoens * Dutch Braille * Dutch grammar * Dutch Language Union * Dutch literature * Dutch name * Dutch orthography * Dutch-based creole languages *
Flemish Flemish (''Vlaams'') is a Low Franconian Low Franconian, Low Frankish, NetherlandicSarah Grey Thomason, Terrence Kaufman: ''Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics'', University of California Press, 1991, p. 321. (Calling it " ...
* Surinamese Dutch *
French Flemish French Flemish (French Flemish: , Dutch language, Standard Dutch: , french: flamand français) is a West Flemish dialect spoken in the north of contemporary France. Place names attest to Flemish having been spoken since the 8th century in the p ...
* Grand Dictation of the Dutch Language *
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
* Istvaeones * List of English words of Dutch origin * List of territorial entities where Afrikaans and Dutch are official languages * Low Dietsch * Low Franconian * Meuse-Rhenish *
Middle Dutch Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic languages, West Germanic dialects whose ancestor was Old Dutch and was spoken and written between 1150 and 1500. The language served as a minority language in the Holy ...
* Old Frankish


Notes


Citations


General references

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Friedrich Maurer (linguist), Maurer, Friedrich (1942), ''Nordgermanen und Alemannen: Studien zur germanischen und frühdeutschen Sprachgeschichte, Stammes- und Volkskunde'', Strasbourg: Hünenburg. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links

*
The Nederlandse Taalunie
Dutch language union
The Dutch Learner's Grammar
from The University of Sheffield) · {{DEFAULTSORT:Dutch Language Dutch language, Articles containing video clips Germanic languages Languages of Belgium Languages of Saint Martin (island) Languages of the Dutch Caribbean Languages of the Netherlands Low Franconian languages Stress-timed languages Subject–object–verb languages Standard languages Verb-second languages