Dutch is considered as the native language of people in Netherlands. More than 60% of the people in Suriname and Belgium are also using this language as their native tongue. Dutch language is a West Germanic dialect. A majority of the speakers are living in European Union. In fact, 23 million of the population uses this as their first language and about 5 million people speak this as their second language.

Dutch is also holding an official status on the Caribbean islands which are situated in the nations of Curacao, Sint Maarten and Aruba. The dialects or the Dutch language assigned to such nations continues to be spoken like in parts of Germany and France, lesser extent of Indonesia as well as half of the million Dutch speakers living in Canada, United States and Australia. The Southern Africa’s Cape Dutch language have been consistent into Afrikaans and considered as equally intelligible daughter dialect. This is spoken today by approximately 15 or 23 million folks in Namibia and South Africa.

Dutch language is also interconnected with English and German. Dutch has the same word order with the German. It has also the same grammatical gender as well as Germanic vocabulary and it is a little bit similar with English dialect. Dutch contains 3 grammatical genders however the distinction contains few grammatical consequences compared to the German. This language is also sharing final-obstruent devoicing, modal particles, subject-verb-object for main clauses as well as subject-object-verb for subordinate clauses with German. The German and Dutch mutual intelligent varies. The vocabulary of the Dutch is commonly Germanic and it comprises similar Germanic core on English and German which incorporates extra Romance loans compared to German but fewer on English.

History of Dutch Language

Dutch language started around 450-500 AD after the Old Frankish which belongs to various West Germanic ethnic dialects. The northern language of the Old Frankish did not join on the two shifts. Phonetic changes are excluded and it is recognized as Old Low Franconian in which the Low means languages which are not inclined in the consonant shift. The south-eastern languages of Franconian dialects shares a portion of High not the Upper German though the dialect continuum stayed.

Dutch have absorbed the East Low Franconian easily and it became the major form of the Low Franconian though it stays noticeable substrate on the Dutch southern Limburgish language. Since two groups are the same, it is still difficult to identify whether a certain text is Old East Low Franconian or Old Dutch however some of the linguists uses Old Dutch synonymously together with the Old Low Franconian.

Developmental Phases

Just like some of the Germanic languages, Dutch is divided conventionally into 3 developmental phases. These phases are as follows:

  • 450 (500) – 1150 Old Dutch
  • 1150-1500 Middle Dutch
  • 1500- present Modern Dutch

The alterations between the languages are truly gradual. This is also the moment where the linguists can easily detect the revolution. Linguists are able to detect it when the standard language of Dutch has appeared and it was quickly established. The standard Dutch is just the same with Dutch dialects. The standardisation process has started during middle Ages especially during the guidance of Burgundian Ducal Court at Dijon. The language of Brabant and Flanders are the utmost influential during the time. The standardisation process became stronger especially on 16th century which is mainly created because of the Antwerp’s urban dialect.

Geographic Distribution

As mentioned above, Dutch is considered as the official language of Belgium, Netherlands, Aruba, Suriname, Sint Maarten and Curacao. This is also considered as the official dialect of some international organizations like the Union of South American Nations as well as European Union while in the Caribbean Community, this is unofficially used.

Dutch is used on some parts of Europe like Brussels, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Asia, Oceania, Americas, Suriname, North America, and Caribbean. Portions of Africa are also using Dutch as their language and it includes Belgian Africa and Afrikaans. In Netherlands, 96% of the population is using this language. They are using this language as the mother tongue of Netherlands. Belgians is divided into three languages and 56% of its population is speaking Dutch. They are using as their primary language. Brussels is entirely speaking Dutch however after the long run; the estimated population who are speaking Dutch is only 16% while 13% have claimed that they are “good to excellent” in Dutch knowledge.

Phonology

This section provides general overview on the Dutch phonemes. It deals with the systematic organization of the sounds in dialects or languages.

Consonants – Just like the other Germanic languages, the consonant system of Dutch did not undertake High German Consonant Shift and it also contains syllable structure which allows multifaceted consonant clusters. The Dutch also maintains the use of velar fricatives which are present on Proto-Germanic however this is modified in some Germanic languages.

Vowels – Dutch contains extensive inventory of vowel since this is common to Germanic languages. These can be clustered as front unrounded, back rounded as well as front rounded. These are also distinguished traditionally through tenseness or length. Vowel length cannot be considered as a distinctive feature on Dutch phonology since it normally happens together with its changes on the quality of vowel. It has one feature and the other one is considered as redundant. Some of the phonemic analyses have preferred to treat this is opposition for tenseness. On the other hand, although it is not considered as part of such phonemic opposition, the tense or long vowels are still phonetically longer compared to its short counterparts.

Dutch is also used as a foreign language. This is taught mostly on primary as well as secondary schools in some areas which are adjacent to Flanders and Netherlands. This is also used as their medium in the schools of Suriname and even those who are non-native Dutch speakers. This language is taught in some educational centers of Indonesia which is considered as the most significant in ETC or Erasmus Language Centre in Jakarta. For the academic level, the Dutch level is now taught on more 225 universities in over 40 countries. More than 10 000 students globally are now studying Dutch on their university.