Dutch language

Dutch belongs to the West Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family and is spoken by about 16.4 million people in the Netherlands and in the northern half of Belgium (Flanders, including the capital of Belgium, Brussels). It is also spoken in Aruba, Brazil, Canada, Caribbean, Curaçao, Germany, St. Maarten, South Africa, Suriname and the United States. The world's population of Dutch speakers is 23 million.

The word 'Dutch' in English comes from the old Germanic word theodisk , which referred to the language spoken by the people, as opposed to official Latin. Theodisk became Deutsch in modern German. In Dutch, theodisk became two different words: duits, meaning "German", and diets, meaning "Dutch", a term that is no longer used. Today, theodisk survives in tedesco, the Italian word for 'German'.
Before the Netherlands became an independent country in 1550, the English word Dutch was used to refer to any Germanic language. To this day, the descendants of the German settlers in southeastern Pennsylvania are known as the Pennsylvania Dutchmen (dutch).

Dialects of Dutch

The dialectal picture is somewhat complicated, as Dutch is spoken in several countries, and the dialect of Dutch spoken in Belgium is known as Flemish. There is a dialectal continuum between Dutch and Low German, so there is no clear border between the two languages. Some German dialects are closer to Dutch than to the standard German.



Flemish dialects are defined by a large number of borrowed words from French, such as the Flemish word for 'fork' which is fourchette, instead of vork in Dutch. Several dialects have been identified.

Western Flemish, which is also spoken in some areas of the Dutch province of Zeeland and in a small area near Dunkirk (France), on the Belgian border.

  • East Flamingo
  • Brabantian
  • Limburger

Speakers of Dutch

Dutch speakers are distributed in the following territories:


Dutch is the official national language of the Netherlands, where it is spoken by 16.4 million people.


Dutch is one of the official national languages of Belgium, along with French and German. It is spoken by over 6 million people.


Although there are 80,000 speakers of Dutch (called Vlaams, or Flemish) in the northeast region of France, it is not officially recognized.


Dutch is the de facto national language of Aruba, where it is spoken by 5,300 people, although its use is decreasing.

Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba

Dutch is the official national language of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, with about 21,000 speakers.


Dutch is the national language with more than 11,400 speakers.

Sint Maarten (Dutch side)

Dutch is the official national language with 2,000 speakers.


Dutch is the de facto national language of Suriname, with 200,000 speakers.

Translation agency for Spanish-English-Dutch

Now that you know a little more about the Dutch language, you might be interested to know that we offer professional translation services from both English to Dutch and from Dutch into English. We specialise in translation from and into Spanish.

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