The Dutch Language
Dutch to English Translation & English to Dutch Translation
Dutch (Nederlands) is an official language in the Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. It is also one of the official languages of the European Union, the Union of South American Nations and Benelux. There are an estimated 27 million speakers worldwide (22 million of which are native speakers). It belongs to the West Germanic branch of Indo-European languages. The English term ‘Dutch’ used to refer to all Germanic speakers on the European continent.
Standard Dutch was introduced in the 1960s. Dutch dialects are remarkably diverse throughout the Netherlands and northern Belgium, though are in decline in most of the Netherlands (where Standard Dutch is favoured) as opposed to Belgium where they are thriving. Flemish is the name given to the variety of Dutch spoken in Belgium. Other variations include Jersey Dutch (from New Jersey, USA) and Pennsylvania Dutch (spoken in the USA but descended from German). Dutch is the parent language of Afrikaans, developed from the agricultural settlers in South Africa – an estimated 90-95% of Afrikaans vocabulary derives from Dutch. The two languages are mutually intelligible, though Afrikaans grammar is significantly simpler than that of Dutch.
Dutch uses the Latin alphabet but its pronunciation can cause difficulties for learners, as it has 13 simple vowel sounds and 4 diphthongs. It is grammatically similar to German (in terms of sentence structure and verb formation). As is the case with other Germanic languages, Dutch can form arbitrarily long noun compounds, one of the longest examples being ziektekostenverzekeringsmaatschappij (health insurance company) with 36 letters.
Dutch vocabulary is one of the richest in the world, with predominantly Germanic origins, though there are also Greek, Latin and French influences. The dominance of English in the media has led to a significant number of loanwords from the language, particularly in recent years, including ‘computer’ and ‘internet’. English has also adopted a number of Dutch words, such as ‘aardvark’ and ‘coleslaw’. The Dictionary of the Dutch Language is the biggest dictionary in print in the world today, and took 147 years to compile.
Historically, Dutch was widely spoken worldwide during the period of the Dutch Empire (17th to 20th centuries). Dutch rule in Indonesia led to significant linguistic influence on the local languages, with some estimating up to 20% of Indonesian vocabulary is derived from Dutch, e.g. ‘kantor’ (office) from the Dutch ‘kantoor’. Even now, several thousand students study Dutch in Indonesia each year.
The Dutch Language Union (NTU, Nederlandse Taalunie) is an international regulatory organisation for the Dutch language and its literature. It publishes official grammar guides and vocabulary lists, and was responsible for both Dutch spelling reforms (1995 and 2005), the latter of which is still regarded as controversial and boycotted in some regions.
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Dutch Translation Services
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