Language

Language
Dutch is an Indo-European Germanic language that is mostly spoken in the Netherlands, Flanders and Suriname (South America). It is closely connected to the Low German dialects which by now have largely been flooded by official German. These dialects managed to keep a number of proto-Germanic characteristics, and for this reason, Dutch as a language is a living fossil. It represents a group of important dialects that were spoken by the founders of the Frankish Empire and the Saxons. The latter group were the founders of the English language as it is spoken today, hence Anglo-Saxons. Afrikaans, as it is spoken in South Africa, is descended from the 17th-century version of modern Dutch. To the dismay of language purists, many English words have been integrated into Dutch. Moreover, many youth are responsible for a shift in the language. This is not something recent: in the first half of the 19th century, students already started thinking up their own words, words that have now had a place for decades in the Netherlands’ most renowned dictionary, Dikke van Dale. Recently the ‘Dutch-language’ hip hop band De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig (Today’s Youth) provided a bombardment of words that are hardly ever understood by anyone over the age of 30. Watskeburt? (Dutch slang for ‘what's happened?').

Most Dutch have a more than fairly healthy command of the English language. Many will also be adept at other European languages with German being the most commonly spoken. Mastering the Dutch language can be a terrifying ordeal, but learning a few key phrases will make things easier and may even win you friends and admirers.

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