Are Dutch and Germans historically related
Dutch is spoken by 26 million people worldwide. Most of these are in the Netherlands (17 million) and Belgium (6 million). Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands, Belgium and the European Union. The language abbreviation for Dutch according to ISO standard 639-1 is "nl".
Often one speaks of "Dutch" or "Flemish". In fact, however, these terms refer to dialects or dialect groups of Dutch. Flemish refers to the dialects spoken in the Belgian provinces of West Flanders and East Flanders as well as in a small neighboring area in the Netherlands. Dutch refers to the dialects that are spoken in the Dutch provinces of North Holland and South Holland.
As a West Germanic language, Dutch is related to German and English. However, this relationship is somewhat less close than, for example, those among the Scandinavian languages Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. A community of understanding only exists in the area of the Dutch-German border.
Much of what people think they know about Dutch in German-speaking countries is not entirely correct. Here are some common mistakes and fallacies about the Dutch language:
- "Dutch is a German dialect"
- "Dutch is a small language"
- "Belgium is French-speaking"
"Dutch is a German dialect"
From a scientific point of view, the distinction between dialect and language depends on various criteria. Often it is not only about the actual differences to the standard language, but also about the question of whether the language uses its own written language, whether it is managed and used in a country as its own official language, etc. So it often happens today that different languages are used Languages are spoken, although there is a so-called community of understanding between these languages, that is, even though the speakers of the two languages can converse with one another effortlessly. There are communities of understanding between Danish and Norwegian, Czech and Slovak, or Russian and Belarusian.
Perhaps that is why the common opinion arose that Dutch could also be called a German dialect. A close relationship to the German cannot be denied. Nonetheless, Dutch is a language in its own right in every respect. And by no means just because it uses a different written language or is the official language in the Netherlands and Belgium. The qualification of Dutch as a separate language has solid linguistic reasons. Like German and English, Dutch is a West Germanic language. But unlike standard German, today's Dutch is a product of Franconian and Saxon (Lower Saxony) influences. A community of understanding of Dutch exists only with Low German dialects, but not with the High German standard language. With all this, Dutch is undoubtedly the national language that is most closely related to German.
"Dutch is a small language"
If you divide the languages into large and small languages, you will be more inclined to assign Dutch to the latter group. But don't forget:
- There are around 6500 living languages worldwide.
- Of these, only around 35 languages are spoken as mother tongue more often than Dutch.
- Dutch is spoken by 26 million people.
- Dutch has official status in 5 countries.
Given these facts, it seems appropriate to describe Dutch as a medium-sized language. Or, as people like to say in the Dutch-speaking world: Dutch is the largest of the small or the smallest of the large languages.
"Belgium is French-speaking"
Throughout Belgian history, the French language dominated over Dutch well into the first half of the 20th century. The royal house, politics and the entire upper class of the country were Francophone. And that although the Dutch speakers have always been in the majority.
Today the situation has changed. It has been noted that 6 million Dutch speakers oppose only 4 million French speakers. It has become a matter of course that the royal family must be bilingual. Only those who have a perfect command of both languages can become Belgian Prime Minister. Most of the time it's a Flame. If you are looking for a job and do not speak both languages, you have bad cards in the public service as well as in large companies.
This bilingualism is also very noticeable in everyday life. From the Brussels street sign to information brochures to the websites of medium-sized and large Belgian companies - everything is bilingual. The equality of the languages Dutch and French is a big issue in Belgium and is planned down to the smallest detail.
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