What writing system(s) does this language use?
Dutch uses the Latin alphabet, just like English, but 'ij' is sometimes treated as a single letter, equivalent to 'Y'. At the beginning of a place name, both letters are capitalized (e.g. IJsselmeer).
How many people speak this language?
About 24 million people speak Dutch. More, of course, speak it as another language, but it is more common as a first or native language.
Where is this language spoken?
The majority of Dutch speakers live in the Netherlands (click here to learn about the Netherlands) and the northern part of Belgium (Flanders) (click here to learn about Belgium). Those two countries alone have 21 million Dutch speakers. Dutch in the Netherlands and Flanders is the official language, and is spoken by nearly everyone there. Dutch is also the official language in Suriname where about 60% of the population has it as their mother tongue.
Dutch is also spoken in Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, and a tiny corner of northern France called French Flanders. Dutch used to be spoken by many in Indonesia, which was a Dutch colony until 1949, but now only the older generation speak it. Afrikaans, one of the languages of European settlers in Africa, is almost completely based on Dutch. In fact, they are so similar, someone could be speaking Afrikaans and someone else Dutch, and they would both understand each other.
Dutch migrants to the US and Australia, and more recently to Spain, France and Italy, often continue to use Dutch.
What is the history of this language?
Scholars believe that Dutch became an independent language in about 600 AD. Before it was just one of numerous West Germanic dialects.
The best known example of very old Dutch text is "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"). It was written around 1100. For a long time, scholars thought that it was the oldest Dutch text, but now an older text has been discovered: "Visc flot aftar themo uuatare" ("A fish was swimming in the water") and "Gelobistu in got alamehtigan fadaer" ("Do you believe in God the almighty father"). If you know German, this should be pretty easy to understand. These were written around the year 900.
Modern Dutch developed around 1550.
- Gerard Reve
- Harry Mulisch
- Willem Frederik Hermans
- Jan Wolkers
- Ronald Giphart
- Annie M.G. Schmidt
- Max Velthuijs
What are some basic words in this language that I can learn?
|Hoe gaat het met je?||How are you? (Formal)|
|Hoe gaat het?||How are you? (Informal)|
|Heel Goed||Very Good|
|Wat kan ik voor u doen?||What can I do for you?|
|Dank u wel.||Thank you.|
|Hartelijk bedankt.||Thank you very much.|
|Tot ziens||See you later!|
What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?
Je bent de zon,
Je bent de zee,
Je bent de liefde,
Ga nu met mij mee
You are the sun,
You are the sea,
You are love,
Now go along with me
Altijd is Kortjakje ziek Midden in de week maar 's zondags niet 's Zondags gaat zij naar de kerk Met een boek vol zilverwerk Altijd is Kortjakje ziek Midden in de week maar 's zondags niet
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