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Dutch: A language with countless dialects

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10 facts about the Dutch language

01

The Dutch language is known to be the 56th most commonly spoken native language in the world.

02

The Dutch language has many long compound words. Some would say even more than most languages.

03

Dutch people call their language “Nederlands” whereas non-natives and foreigners call it Dutch.

04

The Dutch language has a lot of word endings used to express affection towards someone or one another.

05

You may be surprised to learn that the Dutch language is the third most spoken Germanic language in the world.

06

Many are not aware that the Dutch language is a very old language that originated around 1100.

07

Interestingly, most of the slang words in the Dutch language have originated from Hebrew.

08

Some Dutch words have also been adapted and incorporated into English. For example, waffles come from the Dutch word wafel and coleslaw from koolsla.

09

The Dutch language shares half of its vocabulary with the English language.

10

Around 23 million people speak Dutch as their first language and 5 million as their second language.

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Origin of the language

Dutch originated in the Netherlands.

History of the language

The earliest documents in Dutch are from the 12th century.

Learning the language

An English speaker needs about 600 hours to learn Dutch.

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Dutch language diversity

Dutch is the official language in the Netherlands. It is also spoken in the northern half of Belgium and in the South American country of Suriname. There are mainly two Dutch dialects. These are very similar and are spoken in the same language areas where standard Dutch is spoken. One very prominent variant is Flemish.

However, in other areas, the Dutch dialects are not spoken with the same frequency and percentage as they are spoken in the Netherlands. The Dutch language is closely related to German and English and, more or less, falls in between the two.

The Dutch vocabulary used is mostly Germanic, incorporating more Romance loanwords than German and significantly less than English. Moreover, the West Flemish group of dialects seem so different that it can easily be considered a new variant.

Did you know?

There is a vast difference between both dialects when spoken. There is a sense of a greater English influence with Dutch spoken in the Netherlands.

The Dutch may borrow words such as maréchaussée (military police) from French or überhaupt (after all) from German. The Flemish, however, avoid loanwords.

There is a difference in syntax in both languages. In Flemish, you might say, fauna en flora while in Dutch one says flora en fauna.

Numerous words are used in both dialects which are not interchangeable at all.

Other notable differences include the use of informal language in both dialects. Most Dutch speakers now use the informal je (you) when talking to strangers.

In Flemish schoon is used to indicate beauty while, in the Netherlands, it is used to express that something is clean.

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Dutch language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in Dutch:

Cat=kat

Night=nacht

Father=vader

Day=dag

Dog=hond

Thank you=dank u

Mother=moeder

Goodbye=Vaarwel

Good morning=goede morgen

Hello=Hallo

lang orbit original

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Anne Frank

Author and Diarist

Seen from the moon we are all the same size.

Eduard Douwes Dekker, pen name Multatuli

Novelist and Author

If you write it down, it is immediately on paper.

Gerard Reve

Writer

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Fun facts about the Dutch language

The first evidence of Dutch text

Hebban olla vogala nestas hagunnan hinase hic anda thu, wat unbidan we nu?, is the first evidence of a written Dutch text ever found. It comes from a medieval love song and means “All the birds are already nesting, except for me and you. What are we waiting for?”

Dutch spelling guide

In 1804, the first official Dutch spelling guide was written.

Other language influence

The Dutch language was influenced by the French language for a long period of time.

Numerous accents and dialects

There are numerous types of Dutch accents and dialects, ranging between 200 to 600.

Most common surnames

De Jong and Jansen were the most common Dutch surnames.

Most popular Dutch names in 2018

Emma and Noah were the most popular Dutch names in 2018.

Longest Dutch isograms

Filmproducent (film producer) and whiskyproducent (whiskey manufacturer) are the longest Dutch isograms.

The easiest language to learn

Dutch is the easiest language for English speakers to learn.

Numerous tongue twisters

The Dutch language has a lot of consonant clusters, at times containing several in a row, which can create a fair number of tongue twisters.

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