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About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...


Dutch (Standard Variety)

Jacob van Maerlant (1235–1300),
the Flemish scholar and writer that
lived in Holland and promoted
literary activities among speakers
of Northern Dutch

Language information: 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 not very long ago, specifically American Dutch varieties used to be used in parts of New Jersey and New York states.
     Europe’s Dutch-speaking area has no clearly defined boundaries. Going from southwest to northeast, it comprises French Flanders, the Dutch-speaking Belgium, Brussels (as a partly Dutch-speaking area) and the Netherlands. Map of Franconian (Frankish) Dialect GroupsHowever, 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.
     Furthermore, much 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 in mind 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 European thinking remains focused on national boundaries despite their fading significance, and since these varieties happen to be used on German soil, 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 separate 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. This view is parallel to the German view that Low Saxon of Germany is a part of “German,” mostly because the concepts “language” and “ethnicity” are considered virtually synonymous, and Low Saxon speakers of Germany have lost their own ethnic identity in the wake of 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 in the Netherlands province of Northern Brabant (Noord-Brabant) 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 and Western Flemish. Eastern Flemish varieties are used in most of the Belgian province of Eastern Flanders 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 long vowels 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 by many considered to constitute a group or language in conjunction with them. Overseas Dutch-based creole languages seem to be 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 far without success.
     Standard 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 by 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. Standard 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 and written.
     The generally accepted historical stages of Dutch are as follows:
     · Old Dutch or Old (Western) Low Franconian: 450~500–1150
     · Middle Dutch (popularly “Diets”): 1150–1500
     · Modern Dutch: 1500–present
     Dutch orthography 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

    Click to open the translation:
            [Standard] Click here for different versions. >

            [Antwerp] [Cuijk] [Kwadendamme] [Oost Souburg] [Merchtem] Click here for different versions. >
            [Nieuwpoort] [Ostend] [Roeselare] [Rosmalen] [Stadsfrys] Click here for different versions. >

Author: Reinhard F. Hahn

© 2011, Lowlands-L · ISSN 189-5582 · LCSN 96-4226 · All international rights reserved.
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