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"Language part 1: Dutch" Netherlands Local Custom Tip by OlafS

Netherlands Local Customs: 288 reviews and 290 photos

Dutch is the major official language of The Netherlands. It's taught in schools all over the country (see part 2 for more about its actual use and part 3 for its possible future). The name "Dutch" does not refer to a country or a region, but comes from "Diets", the name of the language that was spoken in most of the Low Countries in the Middle Ages. Diets was closely related to the language that was spoken in most of Germany then, so-called Lower German. There were 7 major dialects of Diets. In the 17th century several dialects were mixed in the province of Holland, where many refugees from the south had settled. This local Diets, mixed with influences from Flanders and Brabants, is where the current language originates from.
Dutch is also spoken in Belgium (Flanders), where it is taught at a higher quality level than in The Netherlands. But in Belgium the Dutch language was actually threathened for a long time, so it seems the Flemish are more careful about it. Although there is a standardized Dutch that is used in both countries, there are numerous differences in the vocabulary which make it difficult to communicate sometimes. But some people exaggerate the differences; Dutch tv started subtitling Flemish tv-programs a few years ago, although those are usually perfectly understandable, and "out of revenge" the Belgians now do the same with programs from The Netherlands!

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  • Updated Sep 1, 2003
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