Indigo Books

Learn to Speak Dutch

About Dutch

A West *Germanic language whose closest relatives are Low and High *German, spoken to the east of the Dutch language area. Flemish in its strictest sense in order to a set of two dialects of Dutch spoken in the Belgian provinces of East and West Flanders as well as in the southernmost section of the province of Zeeland while in the Netherlands (Zeeuws-Vlaanderen). In a wider sense, the name 'Flemish' is given informally to the regional form of standardized Dutch as it is often spoken in northern Belgium.

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More about Dutch

The name Dutch'

The original source of the English term 'Dutch', as of German deutsch 'German', is Latin theodiscus (the word Teutonic is related) 'the language of the people', instead of the language of the Church, i.e. Latin. During the early Germanic dialects theodiscus became diets (now used in combination with an often romantic connotation to consult older forms of Dutch), duuts, duits (the present day Dutch word for 'German), deutsch. Purpose through to the 16th c. that a differentiation in nomenclature begins to emerge and references are designed to Nederduytsch 'Low German' and Nederlandsch 'Netherlandish', i.e. 'Dutch'. The modern day Dutch word for 'Dutch', Nederlands, became firmly established through the 19th c., but by that time the concept of 'Dutch' had already taken root in English.

Origins and early history

The Rhine was established early on as the northern border of the Roman Empire. Initially it also formed the border between Celtic tribes to the south (known collectively as `Belgae') and Germanic tribes north (most notably the Frisians who ranged in between your mouths of the rivers Rhine and Ems). The Romans eventually left the defence of their northern frontier to Germanic tribes who have been invited on the way and live south belonging to the Rhine. During the 3rd and 4th centuries a group of such tribes, collectively known as 'Franks', settled south of the Rhine. However, with the disintegration of the Empire while in the 5th c., the Franks for you to dominate the region and in the end a united Frankish force under Clovis, the founder of the Merovingian dynasty, conquered Gaul as far south as the Loire. When the Carolingian dynasty took over the rule of the Franks while in the 9th c., a period of further expansion started. One of those conquered by Charlemagne were the Frisians and Saxons who lived to the north of the Franks in exactly What Are roughly the present-day Dutch provinces of Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel (the river Ijssel, a branch of the Rhine, is generally seen as the border between Saxons and Franks and, while in the present-day linguistic situation, between Frankish and Saxon dialects of Dutch).

The Germanic-speaking Franks were instrumental in establishing the language border between *Romance and Germanic in its present position. Whereas during the Roman Empire Romance speech moved north towards the Rhine, the centuries I really hope collapse of the Empire saw a gradual southward Germanization extending possibly so the Loire. This was followed on the other hand by way of a Romance push north while in the 7th and 8th centuries. The northern border between Romance and
130 Dutch

Germanic eventually settled on a line running east from Staples. This border has changed little except under western culture where, under political pressure, it was pushed further north beyond Dunkirk through the following centuries. The political border in between the Belgian province of West Flanders and France now corresponds to the linguistic border in the south-west belonging to the Dutch-speaking area, aside from the continuing presence of a small minority of speakers of a Germanic (West Flemish) dialect in the present French department of Pas-de-Calais. The bradenton area is recognized as French Flanders (Frans-Vlaanderen or the Westhoek).

Earliest attestations

The oldest written remains of Dutch date from the 10th and 11th centuries. The Frankish dialects associated with this time are commonly referred to as Low Franconian. Low Franconian was spoken in the Lower Rhine valley as well as the south of the present-day Dutch language area: Flanders, Brabant, Limburg, southern Holland and Utrecht. Low German (Saxon) dialects were spoken to the east of this region, *Frisian north. Although very little may be known of the language, two branches of Low Franconian are commonly distinguished, West and East Low Franconian.

The best-known remnant of West Low Franconian is really a three-line section from what is assumed in becoming a love poem written by a Flemish scribe trying out his pen c.1100, referred to as probatio pennae:

Hebban olla vogala nestas hagunnan All the birds have begun their nests
hinase hic enda thu except me and you
uuat unbidan uue nu what are we waiting for

One further remnant can be a transcription, also c.1100, associated with the originally East Low Franconian text, a version belonging to the Song of Solomon by the Abbot of Edersburg, Williram.

If West Low Franconian may be the percursor belonging to the dialects of Flanders and Holland, East Low Franconian were displayed as having that role for the dialects of Limburg and the Rhineland. The best-known remnant of East Low Franconian may be the 10th-c. Wachtendock Codex, named after the last known keeper of the original manuscript (now lost).

Middle Dutch

The troubadour Hendrik van Veldeke (wife or husband of the 12th c.) is claimed by both Middle Dutch and Middle German literary history his or her first known poet. This really is quite appropriate: medieval poetry is written from your dialect, not in a standard language, and Veldeke came from the area around Maastricht in Limburg, where the local dialect continues to be very close to the German dialects just the particular world border. Middle Dutch dialects can be split up into three groups: the dialects of Holland, Zeeland and Flanders (coastal dialects), the south-east (Brabant and Limburg), as well as north-east (originally Low German dialects which set out to show nowadays similarities with Dutch in the Middle Ages).
In the 13th c. the dialects of Flanders and Brabant gained prominence through the roll-out of the urban patriciate of cities like Bruges, Ghent and Ypres. And literary texts (e.g. the whole shebang of Jacob van Maerlant along with the anonymous fable Van den Vos Reinaerde in Flanders, the mystic Hadewych in Brabant) from c.1250, ever more non-literary texts were written in the vernacular (than Latin). This phenomenon spread from Flanders northwards. Literary production continued to increasing amount of the 14th and 15th centuries with Flanders, Brabant and Limburg, but also increasingly in Holland.

Middle Dutch spelling reflects local variation and is also more 'phonetic' than that of modern Dutch. Contracted forms, e.g. those invoved with which verb and subject are written as one word, are very common: segghic > segghe is 'say I'. The influence of French through (literary) fashion is noticeable while in the vocabulary: names for food (fazant `pheasant', taart 'tart') and household goods (tapijt 'carpet' < tapis) as well as ethical vocabulary (spijt 'regret' < despit). A morphological phenomenon is the affixation of French endings on Dutch stems, e.g. the nominal suffix -age on the verbal stem vrij-: vrijage 'love affair'.

The the vernacular in civic texts appears to be a first impulse towards standardization. Two important developments, the political unification of the Low Countries and the invention of the printing press, ensured that right at the end belonging to the Middle Ages a standardized form of Dutch was emerging. For the Dukes of Burgundy, especially Philip the Good (1396-1467), expansion was a reality. By the midst of the 15th c., Holland, Zeeland, Flanders, Artois, Hainaut, Brabant, Limburg, Luxembourg and Gelre (now Gelderland) were under Burgundian control, as well as bishoprics of Utrecht and Liege were under Burgundian influence. Although French was the language of their administration, the Burgundians allowed employing the vernacular. Moreover, the center of gravity moved towards and may provide a Countries, especially when Burgundy itself was lost to the king of France in 1477 and the court moved permanently to Brussels. The standardization of the written language also allowed the marketplace for the printed word to grow.

The sixteenth century onwards

Mary of Burgundy married in to the imperial Habsburg family. Her grandson Charles V (born 1500) united within a single person the Lordship of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Spain, and the (German) First Reich. Charles consolidated his hold on the Netherlands and modernized the administration. In 1548 his possessions while in the Low Countries were united while in the 'Burgundian Circle' consisting of the present-day Benelux countries as well as the Burgundian possessions north of France. This, with your increasing output belonging to the printing industry, the Reformation as well as the humanist tradition, allowed the standardization of Dutch to intensify during the 16th c. The cultural and commercial centre gone to live in Antwerp.

A decisive moment for the history belonging to the Low Countries and also the Dutch language came in the 1560s. In 1555 Philip Ii Of Macedon succeeded his father Charles V as Lord of the Netherlands and King of Spain. Dissatisfaction along with his policies for and may provide a Countries (increasing centralization, heavy taxation, an uncompromising anti-Reformation stance) in order to a popular revolt, first in the southern provinces (Flanders and J3rabant) and later in the northern provinces. Philip's generals been able to suppress the revolt while in the south, but are still not north, which resulted in a division by 1585 in between your independent Northern Netherlands (could be described as the United Provinces or the Dutch Republic) and also the Spanish Southern Netherlands. Many southerners, mainly well-to-do merchants and intellectuals who supported the Reformation, were forced to flee to the north.

Between 1585 and the start of 19th c., the history of the Dutch language is that of two communities: the independent Protestant Republic as well as the occupied Catholic Southern Netherlands. While in the north the standard language developed steadily under the pressure of national unification as well as an increasingly assertive Calvinist church. In the south, however, the language of national administration (and of the Catholic Church too) remained French which on a local level gained many prestige. The Dutch dialects in the south reverted, therefore, as to the we were holding in the centre Ages: a local means of communication without national importance.
While in the time of the Republic, the reason for standard was the dialect of the most influential province, Holland. However, Holland gained this influential position partly due to the influx of prestigious refugees (mainly Brabancons) from the south who brought to have them a wealth of commercial contacts plus an intellectual elite. Their southern influence on the standard language is well documented. The main (but is not the only) why people love this are lexical: many formal words in present-day standard (northern) Dutch are colloquial words in southern dialects, e.g.:
north south
vaak dikwijls 'often'
al reeds 'already'
gooien werpen 'throw'
huilen wenen 'cry'

The 17th c. is regarded as the Dutch Golden Age. While the war with Spain continued until 1648 (mainly fought in the Southern Netherlands), the Dutch built up a large commercial enterprise. Amsterdam became the staple market of Europe, the Company (1602) and West India Company (1621) were the main European carriers to and from the new colonies, and the Dutch were the only Europeans with a trading settlement in Japan. In cultural terms, too, the Republic flourished; witness the abundance of Dutch art from the period. The works of Joost van den Vondel, P. C. Hooft, G. A. Bredero and C. Huygens (to name a few) show that in literature, too, the Dutch produced masterpieces. This intellectual activity has left its mark on the language in a number of ways. Concerning linguistic enterprise belonging to the century was the translation of the Bible. The Statenbijbel (1637) can be a monumental work completed in 18 years by way of a committee from where the various regions were represented. This regional variation is reflected while in the translation, e.g. while in the adoption of the Saxon third-person reflexive zich (as opposed to hem, haar) which has found its way into the standard language. The influence belonging to the Statenbijbel continues to be enormous due to the strong Calvinist tradition as well as a higher level of literacy than elsewhere in Europe: every Protestant family owned a bible that has been read day to day. Numerous expressions made by this translation have entered the language during the centuries.

The influence of French on the Dutch language became quite strong components vocabulary in the course of the 18th c. through social pressures (e.g. visite for bezoek `visif,ftliciteren for gelukwensen `to congratulate').
During the early Republic pride while in the Dutch language also in order to the creation of many newly coined words for concepts expressed by Latinisms in other languages. The scientist Simon Stevin was at the forefront in this and introduced words like driehoek (`triangle'), hoogtelijn (`altitude') and zwaartelijn (`median') into the science of wiskunde (`mathematics'). But also in other fields, too, new Dutch words were introduced, e.g., in linguistics, werkwoord (`work word' = 'verb'), zefstandig naamwoord (independent name word' = `noun'), bijvoeglijk naamwoord (`additive name word' = `adjective'), onderwerp (`subject') and (lijdend) voorwerp (`(direct) object').

The Republic's policies towards other religions meant that it was not too difficult for Jewish refugees to settle in Amsterdam. Ladino (*Judeo-Spanish), the language of the Sephardim, has hardly served to be a source for borrowing, whereas *Yiddish, the language belonging to the much poorer Ashkenazim, has made a considerable contribution to the Dutch (especially colloquial) vocabulary.

The colonial exploits of the Dutch gave the language a number of words from exotic languages, especially Malay, the lingua franca while in the Dutch East Indies.

Many languages have borrowed Dutch words from the seafaring and shipping vocabulary (e.g. English dock, buoy, yacht, freight, keelhaul).


It was the Napoleonic fervour for regulation that eventually in order to the establishment belonging to the first official Dutch spelling in 1804 (devised by Siegenbeek) as well as publication linked with an official grammar in 1805 when the Netherlands were under French rule (1795-1815). The Siegenbeek spelling was adopted south too, and later the spelling of De Vries and Te Winkel (1863) has been around since both the Netherlands and Belgium.

Both the Netherlands and Belgium (and, ever since the 1993 federal Belgian constitution, Flanders) have ceded linguistic sovereignty to a bi-national body, the Dutch Language Union, established laboring under the the Dutch Language Union Treaty (1982). The Union is empowered to provide for the Dutch language regarding the Dutch and Flemish authorities, along with the determination associated with the official spelling and grammar and its promotion abroad. Dutch spelling has been subject to a number of minor changes since the De VriesTe Winkel spelling of 1863, but it really is the topic of vigorous debate highlighting requiring regulation. The actual most recent spelling change has been available since September 1996 (see Woordenljst van de Nederlandse Taal in the bibliography). Concerning grammar and vocabulary the Union is less prescriptive. It has made resources readily available for producing an authoritative grammar (Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst: Haeseryn et al., 1997) as well as completion of the Woordenhoek der Nederlandsche Taal (started by De Vries and Te Winkel in 1882).

Dutch in Belgium

After the defeat of Napoleon, the Southern and northern Netherlands were united for the first time for 230 years as in england belonging to the Netherlands. Although this ended in the Belgian uprising of 1830 along with the independence of Belgium in 1831, the foundations for standardization belonging to the Dutch language south were probably laid in this short period. The Kingdom of the Belgians was governed by way of a French-speaking elite that also dominated the Dutch-speaking region of the country for the simple reason that in order to get on a single had to speak French. It truly is as a consequence, too, that in the course of the 19th c. Brussels rapidly changed from a largely Dutch-speaking city to a single where a good many spoke French.

Dutch was thought to be a 'national language' in Belgium in 1831 and as an 'official language' in 1898, but it really took a hundred years from Belgian independence before Dutch was fully thought to be having equal status to French in the courts, in administration and in education. The University of Ghent took over as first Dutch-language university in Belgium in 1932. In 1963 Belgium was officially split up into four language areas: Dutch, French, German, and bilingual (DutchFrench) Brussels (see map 1).

The standardization of Dutch in Belgium came about after long discussions whether or not Flemish should adopt the existing northern standard (viewing 'integrationists') or create a new southern one (that belonging to the 'particularists'). The integrationists eventually won the argument, partly appear close cooperation between Dutch and Flemish linguists from an early stage. This integrationist strategy was enshrined a number of post-war bilateral agreements, culminating while in the Dutch Language Union Treaty of 1982 (see above under `Standardization'). Despite this high higher level of linguistic integration, the Flemings (and also the Dutch) are conscious of the differences between northern and southern Dutch. With their confidence growing in other respects too (Flanders happens to be economically superior to Wallonia), they may be unlikely that Flemish will adopt the northern norm completely. This attitude is strengthened by a perceived indifference while in the Netherlands to the whole issue of linguistic integration.

Present situation

Dutch is spoken while in the Netherlands and Flanders by approximately 15 million and 6 million speakers respectively. Brussels is officially bilingual, although its actual linguistic make-up is extremely complex. You can find Not all thousand speakers of Dutch dialects in French Flanders. Dialect differences will still be very strong, particularly in Flanders where lots of people speak the local dialect alongside standard Dutch in a diglossic situation. But also in the eastern, southern and northern provinces belonging to the Netherlands you may still find many dialect speakers. Dutch dialects still show a division between east and west (like for example Middle Dutch) with western dialects showing *Ingvaeonic characteristics and eastern dialects Saxon traits. In addition, a number of Urban dialects have emerged as the type and model and incredible importance of towns and cities is continuing to grow. (See also *Frisian for the position of that language while in the Netherlands).

And being the state run language belonging to the Netherlands your decide one of the official languages in Belgium, Dutch considered official languages belonging to the European Union.

Dutch is also the official language belonging to the former Dutch colony of Surinam in South America, of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao in the Leeward Islands, and St Maarten (which is half French), St Eustatius and Saba while in the Windward Islands. However, Papiamentu, a Portuguese-based creole, will be the native language of most people on the Dutch Leeward Islands, and English on the Dutch Windward Islands. The linguistic situation in Surinam is much more complex, as a result of a number of waves of (often enforced) migration from Africa, the Indonesia (especially Java) and India. A local variety of Dutch (Surinamese-Dutch) is taking root and also has found its in the past to the Netherlands by way of Surinamese immigrants.
Dutch-based *pidgins and *creoles

The establishment of New Amsterdam (now New York) in the states gave rise to simplified versions of Dutch (Jersey and Mohawk Dutch) which survived in to the 18th c. Dutch has been the basis many different creoles and pidgins, nearly all of them now extinct. Negerhollands was spoken in the Virgin Islands until the early 20th c. and 'Negro Dutch' in New York. Berbice, named following having a river in Guyana, is virtually extinct. Petjok, which arose in the barracks of the Dutch East Indian army, is really a creole based partly on Dutch (especially in its vocabulary) and partly on Malay. It was taken back to the Netherlands after Indonesian independence.


Afrikaans is the best-known descendant of Dutch. It arose in the Cape Colony after the Dutch Company founded a settlement there in 1652. Afrikaans developed in the following years intoxicated by local languages as well as other (Portuguese- and Malay-based) pidgins. The creolized different types of Dutch spoken while in the Cape Colony 150 years later were the basis for a new language which developed through the 19th c. as being a reaction to the imposition of English. A second language movement arose after the Boer Wars, in which Afrikaans eventually became a standardized code. Today is it doesn't native language of approximately 6 million people, half all of them non-white.

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