Dutch language, collective name for the Dutch language, West Germanic language (Germanic languages) spoken in the Netherlands and Northern Belgium (Flemish).
The remnants of Germanic dialects in northern France (near Dunkirk) are also historically to be regarded as Dutch; The daughter language is Afrikaans. In addition to the Netherlands and Belgium, the Dutch language is also the official language of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles according to extrareference. – While the Germanic dialects of today’s German-Dutch language area formed a continuum with gradual transitions after the Migration Period, the more standardized High German and Dutch written languages replaced Low German in the 16th and 17th centuries, so that a divide arose between them that is today coincides with the border between Germany and the Netherlands. In Wallonia (Belgium) and northern France a Germanic (“Dutch”) upper class existed until the 10th century, which was gradually assimilated by the Romanized population. In the 19th and 20th
Old Dutch (9th – 12th centuries): Apart from sparse literary remnants, only names and a few glosses have survived from this period.
Middle Dutch (13th-16th centuries): The oldest literary manuscript fragments go back to the end of the 12th century / beginning of the 13th century. The first official vernacular documents in Ghent and the surrounding area were created around 1240; documents from the 13th century have survived from the counties of Flanders, Zealand and Holland, and to a lesser extent from Brabant and Utrecht; Further to the east and north, the displacement of Latin did not begin until the 14th century. The Central Dutch writing language was geographically still very different, but clear tendencies towards standardization are recognizable: dissolution of the umlauts as inflectional means, case shrinkage, standardization of the weak noun plural formations. Characteristic sound developments prevailed, e.g. B. the palatalization of the old û and the diphthongization of the old combinations ald / t, old / t to oud / t. These tendencies have increased since the spread of the printing press. After 1500, Brabant seemed to develop into the core of the nascent high-level language as a cultural focus, but the war against Spain at the end of the 16th century led to the division of the Netherlands and to the shift of the cultural focus to Holland.
Nine Dutch: The spoken language form of the Amsterdam and Hague upper classes was soon regarded as exemplary in the 17th century. More and more Dutch people are following this norm in formal speaking situations. A displacement of the dialects through this preliminary stage of the spoken standard language did not initially take place on a larger scale. The written language was used by important poets such as P. C. Hooft and J. van den Vondel and the official translation of the Bible (Statenbijbel, 1637) had a great influence. Dictionaries and grammars of the Dutch language have existed since the late 16th century; the first language maintenance work was done before 1550. The rationalism of the 18th century led to a narrower limitation of the norm. – After the separation of the northern from the southern Netherlands, the south remained culturally behind. The progressive Frenchization of the upper class meant that the spoken Dutch language only appeared here in dialect form; the written Dutch language became more differentiated and lost touch with developments in the north. Reunification in 1815–31 led to the Flemish Movement. This achieved through a series of Belgian laws that Flanders gradually became a homogeneous Dutch-speaking area again from the late 19th and 20th centuries.
The 19th and 20th centuries are characterized in the north by the extensive displacement of dialects by colloquial variants of the high-level language; in the south, this development has only started in the last few decades. The language forms intended as general Dutch in the south contain v. a. In oral use there are still frequent deviations from the northern norm, but a clear development towards this norm can be observed. – Due to some spelling reforms since the beginning of the 19th century, the Dutch language has a relatively adequate spelling. Some characteristics of the high-level Netherlandish language compared to Middle Dutch are the diphthongization of the old lengths î and ü̂ to [ε ] (written ij) and [œ ] (written ui) and the coincidence of the monophthonged lengths ê and ô (been “leg”, hoop “heap”) with tone-long ē and ō (geven “give”, boven “above”).