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What is The Origin of the Dutch Language?

What is The Origin of the Dutch Language?

(Last Updated On: November 23, 2022)

The Dutch language is widely spoken in the Netherlands, Belgium and Suriname.

It’s also widely studied and taught in the United States, partly because so many Americans are of Dutch ancestry, but also because it’s an easy language to learn.

However, despite its popularity around the world, few people know how the Dutch came into existence in the first place.

In this article, you’ll learn about how this fascinating language developed over time, with origins that extend back to before the 13th century and the days of Julius Caesar!

Prehistoric Roots

Dutch is a Germanic dialect that became an official language in the 17th century. Even before the 17th century, the origins of the Dutch trace back to the 13th century when it was used as a common language in the region known as Frisia.

From around the 12th century down to the early 13th century, it became more similar to its present-day form. Eventually, after the 12th century, Ripuarian Franks would adopt this language and brought it with them to present-day France.

Apart from its spread to present-day France, it was not until after the 19th century that Dutch spread to North America and between the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century that it gained popularity in Africa. This, however, is courtesy of the efforts made by Ripuarian Franks.

Today, over 25 million people speak Dutch, making it one of the most popular languages in Europe.

Dutch has been steadily losing ground to other European languages for centuries, but if we can manage to keep up with instruction in schools we could see our native tongue come alive again!

One thing is for certain, if something doesn’t change soon, our language will die out. We have already lost much of the written script and will lose all of our dialects too if nothing changes soon.

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Germanic roots

Dutch is a Germanic language and has its roots in medieval Low Countries. Frisian is a language that also descends from this same root, but it was spoken in what is now northern Germany.

Some words are shared between these Germanic languages. For example, mother in Frisian (moeder) and Dutch (moeder) both come from the same root word and mean milk-giver.

The second syllable der on both versions of the word means to give. Other examples include weg meaning way or road which comes from voegen meaning to build or lay down paving stones.

The idea for our post about dutch origin: researching dutch origins led us to this conclusion – Dutch is a Germanic language with its roots in the medieval Low Countries, including places like Friesland and Utrecht.

These two areas spoke different variants of the language; East Friesian-Frisian dialects were mostly spoken near what is now Germany, while West Friesian dialects were mostly spoken near the Netherlands.

The first texts are written in this Dutch variant date back to the ninth century AD, but it wasn’t until 1584 when Dutch officially became a national language!

Old Low Franconian

Dutch is a West Germanic language, and one of the world’s major languages.

It is spoken by about 26 million people in the Netherlands and on some Caribbean islands as well as is used as an official language in several countries.

Dutch is also one of the first languages to be learned by children in schools. One might expect that it would have originated somewhere in Germany, but this was not the case at all.

The truth behind its origins is fascinating and quite surprising! Researchers believe that Dutch stems from a group of dialects originally called Old Low Franconian which was spoken along the middle Rhine River in what is now Western Germany.

These dialects may date back to the 3rd century AD when Germanic tribes who inhabited what is now Northern Europe came into contact with Romans who spoke Latin.

Around 350 AD, the Franks (a large tribe) conquered most of Gaul (France) and parts of western Germany, giving their name to both regions: Francia or Franconia.

As time went on, Latin became less prominent and these dialects became known as Old Low Franconian.

They eventually spread northwards, through the Frankish empire and beyond. However, there is evidence to suggest that for centuries after their initial emergence, speakers of these dialects still considered themselves Germans rather than Franks.

Linguists claim that the word Dutch doesn’t even appear until around 800 AD and only then does it refer specifically to those who speak Frisian.

Eventually though, due in part to trade connections between northern France and Flanders (now northern Belgium), there was a need for another way of referring to these Middle Germanic peoples.

As such, they became known as Dietsc (people living by the water), though they are still often referred to as Frisians (Frisi).

Middle Dutch

Dutch is a West Germanic language spoken by the majority of people in the Netherlands, Belgium and northern parts of Germany.

The language is also spoken in East Belton, South Africa, Curaçao and other Caribbean Islands. It is one of two official languages in Suriname.

Despite its origins as a Germanic language, over time it has taken on many words from Latin (French), English, Norman French, and Low German.

This change occurred due to several reasons: trade with France and England for example; immigration from areas where French or English was spoken; extensive use of them as second languages in areas that were ruled by various Dutch rulers for centuries; etc.

Today, Dutch speakers are found all around the world but mainly in Western Europe and North America.

Besides North America, there are roughly 25 million native speakers of Dutch worldwide which amounts to about one-quarter of those who speak Afrikaans.

In 2013 there were 300 million people who spoke Dutch either as their first or second language, making it the 11th most widely spoken common language or mother tongue in the European Union.

The country’s geographical size means that most citizens live close enough to each other to communicate effectively without having a common language

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New Netherland

Dutch is a Germanic language with about 23 million speakers. It was originally used for commerce in Northern Europe and eventually became a major international language.

The Netherlands was named after the Dutch Republic, which was also known as New Netherland.

In 1664, when England took over New Netherland, they renamed it New York to honour James Duke of York.

When the United States won their independence from England, this was considered a great triumph for all Americans so we adopted many British words such as liberty and fraternity.

However, some English words have not been adopted into American vernacular because they sound too much like our own terms.

For example, yard sounds too similar to our term garden so it has not been fully integrated into our vocabulary. Likewise, the sidewalk does not exist in America but exists only in Britain.

Other examples are elevator (British) vs lift (American) or bathroom (British) vs toilet or restroom (American).

Germanic dialects in Dutch

Dutch is a Germanic language, and like other Germanic dialects, it has four main dialects: West, East, North and South.

The Netherlands is home to three of these dialects: West (spoken mainly in Holland), East (spoken mainly in Limburg) and North (spoken mainly in Groningen).

The fourth dialect, South (spoken mainly in Brabant), is spoken on the Belgian side of the border.

These dialects share many similarities and have been in contact with one another for centuries; they even have their subdialects.

There are also differences between dialects within regions—for example, people from Friesland speak very differently than those from Groningen—but this is an extreme case.

All these factors have created a sort of language melting pot that provides fertile ground for new words to emerge as old ones disappear or merge.

For example, olifant used to mean elephant but now often means whale due to its similarity with the Dutch word for whale, Walvis.

Sneeuw is used to refer specifically to snow that falls in the wintertime but now can be used for any kind of white powdery substance such as flour.


Where did the Dutch come from?

Dutch is spoken in a large number of countries, including Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

It also has dialects such as Limburgish and West Frisian. The language evolved from Old Frankish and Old Saxon languages that were spoken in what is now Germany and Denmark.

Why is Holland called Dutch?

Dutch is a West Germanic language that is spoken by about 27 million people in Holland, Belgium, and northern Germany.

The name Holland was first applied to this area during the 16th century when it became a county within the Holy Roman Empire.

The name Holland comes from holt land, which translates to forest land. This was an old English term for untilled land that had been cleared of trees.

Did Dutch come from German?

Dutch is a Germanic language, but it’s a West Germanic language. That means it was originally spoken in an area that was north and west of Germany, rather than south and east.

The earliest traces of written Dutch are from the 8th century AD, which means that people in what is now Belgium were speaking it at least 750 years before people in Germany were.

There are some dialects of German that are closer to Dutch than other dialects of German are to each other!

Are Dutch descendants of Vikings?

It’s a common misconception that the Dutch have Viking heritage because their language is so similar to Norwegian and Swedish.

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