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What’s with this “Wren” thing?
The oldest extant version of the fable
are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology
Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche
Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”)
collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read
Jacob van Maerlant (1235–1300),
the Flemish scholar and writer that
lived in Holland and promoted
literary activities among speakers
of Northern Dutch
Standard Dutch is used and taught as the common language in the Netherlands
and in the Dutch-speaking areas of Belgium. In total, Dutch is
the language of more than 21 million people and as such ranks thirtieth
among thousands of languages spoken in the world. Dutch is also used outside Europe, such as in Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles,
Suriname and in numerous Dutch immigrant enclaves throughout the world. Until
long ago, specifically American Dutch varieties used to be used in parts of
New Jersey and New York states.
area has no clearly defined boundaries. Going from southwest to northeast,
French Flanders, the Dutch-speaking Belgium, Brussels (as a partly Dutch-speaking
area) and the Netherlands. However, some of these areas are not traditionally
Dutch-speaking, such as the traditionally Frisian-, Low-Saxon-, Limburgish-
and German-speaking areas of the eastern parts of Belgium and the Netherlands
where Dutch has come to be superimposed as the national language and is used
by all at least as a second language.
depends on what one means by the name “Dutch” and on how one thinks about groups of language varieties that are or are not
officially considered included under this label. On the one hand, one might bear
that in its most general sense the label “Dutch” more or less coincides with the language subbranch “Low Franconian,” and the next step would then be to include under “Dutch” the Low Franconian varieties used east of the Netherlands and Belgian borders
in a small area in Germany, namely the varieties that are known as “Cleves Franconian” or “Southern Low Franconian and Eastern Bergish” of which some varieties are used on the Netherlands’ side as well and are there considered
part of Dutch. However, few people in Germany would agree with this, since traditional
on national boundaries despite their fading significance, and since
where they are lumped together with Low Saxon under the label Plattdeutsch or Platt (thus “Low German”). On the other hand, some people in the Netherlands and Belgium regard the label “Dutch” as covering only the Hollandish dialect group and the mostly Hollandish-based,
partly artificially developed
Standard Dutch language, and they consider Brabantish, (West) Flemish and Zeelandic
Low Franconian languages. The other extreme is the view that all Germanic varieties of the Netherlands and Belgium, with the exception of Frisian and German, are “Dutch,” and this includes Limburgish as well as the Low Saxon varieties of the Netherlands.
view that Low Saxon of Germany is a part of “German,” mostly because the concepts “language” and “ethnicity” are considered virtually
Low Saxon speakers of Germany have lost their own ethnic identity in the wake
Germanization. Hollandish (or
Hollandic) varieties are traditionally used predominantly in the Dutch provinces
of Northern Holland, Southern Holland and Utrecht. It is this area that historically
dominated and eventually initiated the foundation of the Netherlands. Brabantish (also
Brabantic or Brabantian) is one of the main dialect groups of Dutch. It is used
and in the Belgian provinces Antwerp (Antwerpen) and Flemish Brabant (Vlaams-Brabant). The varieties of Flemish Brabant have Flemish substrates. Standard Dutch is partly based upon Brabantish. Flemish is
by many considered a separate language (i.e., not a part of Dutch), mostly for
what amounts to political reasons. This group is subdivided into
Eastern Flemish varieties are used in most of the Belgian province of Eastern
and also in parts
of the Netherlands’ province of Zeeland-Flanders. The boundaries and characteristics of this group
are not very clearly defined, mostly due to a complex mixture of Flemish substrates,
Brabantish superstrates and Standard Dutch, French, German and Spanish influences.
The West Flemish varieties, on the other hand, are fairly clearly defined and
are less influenced, except by French, and this has been the basis of claims
of separate language status. It is used mostly in Western Flanders and in French
Flanders, being severely endangered in the latter.
Like Low Saxon, Western Flemish and some neighboring varieties of Zeeland are phonologically
rather conservative in that the have not participated in certain shifts from
to diphthongs. Flemish exerted
some influence on Scots and Scottish English and also on some English dialects of Northern England, due to Flemish textile workers having immigrated
to Lowlands Scotland and Northern England, many of them via Wales. An apparent
example of a Flemish borrowing in Scots is tae keek ‘to take a peek’; cf. Flemish kiek’n (['ki:kŋ], Dutch kijken ['kaı:ke], Low Saxon kieken ['khi:kŋ]) ‘to (take a) look’. Zeelandic varieties
are very closely related to Western Flemish, being typologically intermediate
between Hollandish and Western Flemish. Zeelandic varieties are
constitute a group or language in conjunction with them. Overseas Dutch-based
partly based upon Zeelandic. Some Zeelandic language activists have been endeavoring to have their language
varieties officially recognized as a regional language of the Netherlands, so
Dutch is primarily based on Hollandish and
Brabantish varieties, and it has been influenced by other Dutch dialect groups,
also by other languages of the region, such as Frisian and Low Saxon, as well
as by foreign languages such as French, German, Malay and Javanese, lately particularly
English. It serves as the national language of the Netherlands, and it is one of the
national languages of Belgium, also of Aruba, Suriname and the Dutch Antilles.
Dutch is the basis of the internationale Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Union), is thus the lingua franca used among speakers of the dialects mentioned above.
While it has a definite basis, it leaves room for dialectical color, both spoken
The generally accepted
historical stages of Dutch are as follows:
· Old Dutch or Old
Dutch (popularly “Diets”): 1150–1500
is for the most part based upon common Low Franconian and Low Saxon principles.
However, perhaps partly in order to differentiate it from German conventions,
Dutch orthography took on some French devices, such as eu for the sound [ø:] (cf. German ö) and u(u) for the sound [y:] (cf. German ü), and it took on the peculiar combination oe for [u] and [u:] (cf. German u) since u(u) had come to represent [y:]. These conventions constitute an obstacle for people
in Germany, including speakers of Low Franconian and Low Saxon whose dialects
are closely related to Dutch.
Genealogy: Indo-European > Germanic > Western > Low German > Low Franconian
Historical Lowlands language contacts: English, Frisian, Limburgish, Low Saxon