Category Archives: Dutch

Western Europe: What Native Languages Are Spoken in Germany?

Montleek:  Robert, is it possible that in Western Europe, the regional lects have been preserved better, while in eastern Europe are preserved worse? There was communism/socialism in Eastern Europe, therefore more tendency not to continue speaking with regional lect.

Germany is a very chaotic situation with a dialect in every town or village.

Dutch is actually spoken up near the Dutch border, but the form is not intelligible at all with Dutch across the border. You get into the different dialect in every town here.

Danish spoken a bit up by the Danish border.

Sorbian is spoken in the central east.

Frisian is spoken in the northwest and in the far north.

There are up to 138 separate languages within German by my calculation and splitting down to dialects, there must be many more, surely hundreds and maybe over a thousand. There are 3-4 languages within the Macro-Dutch spoken on the border and a dialect in every town. The Danish spoken in the north is not very dialectally diverse. Frisian is spoken as North Frisian and Saterland Frisian, but there may be up to five languages inside North Frisian. Sorbian is spoken in two forms, Upper Sorbian and Lower Sorbian, and both are separate languages.


Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Danish, Dialectology, Dutch, Europe, Frisian, German, Germanic, Germany, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Regional, Sociolinguistics

Western Europe: What Native Languages Are Spoken in the Netherlands?

Montleek: Robert, is it possible that in Western Europe, the regional lects have been preserved better, while in eastern Europe are preserved worse? There was communism/socialism in Eastern Europe, therefore more tendency not to continue speaking with regional lect.

In the Netherlands, regional lects of Dutch Low Saxon, Limburgs, Dutch, Frisian, Low Dietsch and Southeast Limburgs are spoken.

Dutch is spoken in a bewildering variety of lects. There is nearly a separate lect in every village or city.

Limburgs is spoken a bit in the far south and there is a different lect in every town here too.

Dutch Low Saxon is spoken in the north and center of the country, once again as a different lect in every town. Whether this is really Macro-German or Macro-Dutch is not certain, but I would call it more Dutch than German.

Frisian is less dialectally diverse.

There are also very strange languages like Low Dietsch and Southeast Limburgs spoken in the far south. These are classification nightmares. After a lot of study, I concluded that these are neither German nor Dutch but actually something completely in between. With Southeast Limburgs and Low Dietsch, you also run into a the dialect in every town situation.

There area number of separate languages within Dutch in the Netherlands, probably over a dozen. There are three Dutch Low Saxon languages, but the situation is very confused and is almost a classification nightmare. There are probably 3-4 languages inside Frisian, though the vast majority speak the standard lect. There are probably two lects inside Limburgs. Southeast Limburgs and Low Dietsch are separate languages, though each seems to have a few languages inside of it.

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Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Comparitive, Dutch, Europe, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Classification, Language Families, Linguistics, Netherlands, Regional

Western Europe: What Native Languages Are Spoken in Belgium?

Montleek: Robert, is it possible that in Western Europe, the regional lects have been preserved better, while in eastern Europe are preserved worse? There was communism/socialism in Eastern Europe, therefore more tendency not to continue speaking with regional lect.

In Belgium, there are regional lects of Flemish, Dutch, French, Limburgs and German.

Flemish is diverse, though I am not sure if you get to a situation of a different lect in every town.

Dutch is spoken in Belgium, sometimes in forms like Brabants not intelligible to a Dutchman.

Limburgs is actually a separate language spoken in the east. German is spoken in the far south.

The German spoken is a separate language called Ripaurian.

French is spoken as Walloon, actually a separate language

There are probably several languages in Belgian Flemish. There may be two in Limburgs. and there are at least two languages in Walloon. There are probably a few languages inside Belgian Ripaurian. There are at least two languages in Walloon.

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Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Belgium, Dutch, Europe, French, German, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Language Families, Linguistics, Regional, Riparian, Romance

Is Flemish a Dialect of Dutch?

SHI: “Flemish” is Dutch. Flemish is just a name for a regional variation of the Dutch language in Flanders.

I do not agree. That’s Dutch politics and especially Dutch nationalism talking, not linguistic science. I believe that most linguists agree that Dutch and Flemish are two separate languages. And Ethnologue says that Flemish and Dutch are two different languages. Also I believe that mutual intelligibility is not good between Flemish and Dutch regional forms. Yes, Official Flemish is intelligible with Official Dutch, but those are artificial languages. The real true Flemish of regional lects has poor intelligibility with any form of Dutch. And Flemish speakers cannot understand many regional forms of Dutch.

Hell, Dutch is not even intelligible within itself, as the different Dutch lects often cannot understand each other well. It’s the same with Flemish. A number of the regional Flemish lects cannot understand each other well.


Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Dutch, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Sociolinguistics

Mutual Intelligibility in “German”

RL: “Low Franconian is just Dutch.”

Anglo-Saxon Maverick: I would assume that low German, comes from the Northern regions of Germany close to the North Sea, where the elevation is lower?, as opposed to further South where the Alps rise? Holland is topographically lower than France, hence the name?

Yes, the Netherlands is very low in elevation, in fact, I believe it is even below sea level, hence the need for dikes to keep the sea out and polders or reclaimed land formerly flooded by the sea.

Yes, this exactly where Low German comes from of course.

And yes, Upper German comes from the region by the Alps, and Middle German is in between the two. These are actually at least three completely different languages, but Germany will not officially recognize them as such and neither will many German speakers. Even Bavarian and Swiss German are completely separate languages – those are not the same languages as German at all.

A German speaker cannot understand a Swiss German, Low German or even a Bavarian speaker at all. I heard a story about a White man who even learned Munich Bavarian who said he sat in a hot tub with two women who were speaking some Bavarian dialect to the south of Munich near the Austrian border. Over a 2-3 hour period, he said he did not understand one single word that they said, even though all three spoke Bavarian. Bavarian speakers to the south of Munich often cannot understand people even 15 miles away. In these cases, they all communicate via Hochdeutch or Standard German.

In Austria, every region or county speaks its own version of Bavarian and it is said that none of them can understand each other. At least in the 1970’s, people from 3-4 counties in the west of Austria could sit at a table and talk and none of them could really understand each other. Even pure Viennese Bavarian which is very much dying out nowadays simply cannot be understood outside of the Vienna region and nowadays a lot of Viennese themselves cannot even understand it.


Filed under Austria, Bavarian, Dutch, Europe, German, Germanic, Germany, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Low German, Netherlands, Regional, Switzerland

How Is Low German Best Classsified?

So, concerning Low German, is it a sub-classification of North Sea Germanic or Low Saxon-Low Franconian? Glottolog and Wikipedia say the former, Ethnologue says the latter.

I would say that it is Low Saxon – Low Franconian. Low Saxon in Germany anyway for all intents and purposes is Low German. This somewhat includes Dutch Low Saxon, but not so much anymore, as it seems to have merged a lot with Low Franconian. Low Franconian is just Dutch. Middle Franconian is more like Ripaurian and Moselle Franconian Middle German to the south and southeast of the Netherlands in the part of Germany near the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Northeastern France near the Lorraine.

I do not even kn ow what North Sea Germanic even is – is that Ingaevonic? That’s almost English – but Low German is nearly English itself – the Angles, Saxons and especially the Jutes spoke something like English, and South Jutnish, probably a separate language from Danish spoken in southeastern Denmark, is supposedly nearly intelligible with Scots!

At one time there was a “North Sea Fisherman’s Language” which was something like Ingaevonic, and they could all understand each other. Either their own speech was close enough to each other or they all adopted this sort of jargon based on their speech and that of the other North Sea fishermen, but at any rate, when they spoke this Sailor’s or Fisherman’s language, they could understand each other and sailors and fishermen could communicate with each other in all of the ports of the North Sea regardless of where they came from.


Filed under Belgium, Denmark, Dutch, English language, Europe, France, German, Germanic, Germany, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Low German, Moselle Franconian, Netherlands, Regional, Riparian, Scots

What Was the Worst Cultural Genocide Ever?

How about the Romanization of the Celtic World?


Yes, all of that land was formerly controlled by the Celts. Even Southwest Poland was Celtic. There is an endangered language spoken there called Silesian that has at its very base a Celtic layer which is the oldest layer of this Slavic language. The French language was Celtic Gaulish, the influence of which can still be seen in the odd French phonology. I do not think there is much Celtic left in the Iberian languages, but I could be wrong on that. Surely there is little or no Celtic left in Turkish. One wonders about Celtic traces in Dutch, German and the rest of Slavic.

In our modern era, Celtic languages only (barely) survive in Ireland (Irish), Scotland (Scottish Gaelic), Wales (Welsh), the Isle of Man (Manx) and Cornwall (Cornish) in England, and Brittany (Breton) in France. In Eastern Europe, Celts were supplanted by Germanic, Iranian and Slavic tribes. In France, Iberia and the Balkans, the Celts were assimilated to the Roman Empire.

It is not particularly difficult to convert a native elite to the language of a conqueror, but converting an entire population to a new language in a short period of time is quite a feat. The Romans did this mostly by showing the superiority of the Latin language and convincing the natives to give up their Celtic words.

In fact, the Romanization of Dacia where the original Celtic speaking people were completely converted to Latin which then turned into Romanian is cited by Wikipedia as one of the worst cultural genocides ever.

Of course there are many other examples of cultural genocide, some of them ongoing.


Filed under Antiquity, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Britain, Celtic, Culture, Dutch, Europe, European, France, French, Geography, German, Germanic, History, Indo-European, Ireland, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Language Families, Linguistics, Maps, Poland, Regional, Roman Empire, Romance, Scotland, Slavic, Sociolinguistics, Turkic, Turkish

What Is Plattdeutsch?

Beatrix writes:

‘Alt Hoch Deutsch’ (Old High German) sounds a bit like the Plattdeutsch my older Mennonite relatives spoke. But they left West Prussia for the Ukraine in 1802.

Plattdeutsch is a Low German language, and yes, it is an East Low German language with roots in far northeastern Germany and Prussia across the border into what is now Poland. It is close to Pomeranian, a dying East Low German language formerly spoken in that area that died out with the ethnic cleansing of the Germans there after WW2.

It is not intelligible with Standard German or really with any other German language, including other Low German languages. Low German is a completely different language from Standard German. German speakers cannot understand it at all.

Dutch speakers can actually understand Low German languages better than Germans can. That is because in some ways they are quite close to Dutch even though one is Old Franconian and the other is Old German. But there are also German “dialects” that are straight up from Franconian also, especially those spoken in northwest Germany near the borders of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. There are dialects (or really languages in that area that are quite difficult to characterize as either:


I am thinking specially of the languages spoken where German, the Netherlands and Belgium all come together around Kerkrade, Aachen and Stolberg.


Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Dialectology, Dutch, German, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Low German, Sociolinguistics

A Look at the Dutch Languages

From here.

Here we will look at the three languages in the Dutch family – Dutch, Afrikaans and Flemish, from the point of view of how hard they are to learn for a native English speaker. The main focus will be on Dutch, but Afrikaans will also be discussed. Flemish will be discussed only peripherally.

Dutch is harder to learn than English due to the large number of rules used in both speaking and writing. The Dutch say that few foreigners learn to speak Dutch well. Part of the problem is that some words have no meaning at all in isolation (meaning is only derived via a phrase or sentence). Word order is somewhat difficult because it is quite rigid. It helps if you know German as the rule order is similar, but Dutch word order is harder than German word order. Foreigners often seem to get the relatively lax Dutch rules about word order wrong in long sentences.

Verbs can be difficult. For instance, there are no verbs get and move. Instead, get and move each have about a dozen different verbs in Dutch. A regular Dutch verb has six different forms.

Dutch spelling is difficult, and Most Dutch people cannot even spell Dutch correctly. There are only two genders – common and neuter – as opposed to three in German – feminine, neuter and masculine. In Dutch, the masculine and feminine merged in the common gender. But most Dutch speakers cannot tell you the gender of any individual word. In the Netherlands now, most Dutch speakers are simply using masculine for most nouns other than things that are obviously feminine like the words mother and sister.

However, in Belgium, where people speak Flemish, not Dutch, most people still know the genders of words. Not only that but the 3-gender system with masculine, feminine and neuter remains in place in Flemish. In addition, in Flemish, the definite article still makes an obvious distinction between masculine and feminine, so it is easy to figure out the gender of a noun:

ne man, nen boom, nen ezel, nen banaan (masculine)
een vrouw, een koe, een wolk, een peer (feminine)

In addition, most Dutch speakers cannot tell you what pronoun to use in the 3rd person singular when conjugating a verb.

This is because there are two different systems in use for conjugating the 3sing.

The basic paradigm is:

hij      he
zij (ze) she
het      it

System 1
male persons       hij
female persons     zij
neuter words       het
animals            hij, unless noun = neuter
objects            hij, "       "
abstractions       zij, "       "
substances         hij, "       "

System 2
male persons       hij
female persons     zij
all animals        hij
all objects        hij
all abstractions   zij
all substances     het

For instance, melk is a common noun. Under system 1, it would be hij. But under system 2, it would be het because it is a substance.

Dutch has something called modal particles, the meanings of which are quite obscure.

Some say Dutch is irregular, but the truth is that more than Dutch has a multitude of very complex rules, rules that are so complicated that is hard to even figure them out, much less understand them. Nevertheless, Dutch has 200 irregular verbs.

Dutch pronunciation is pretty easy, but the ui, euij, au, ou, eeuw and uu sounds can be hard to make. Dutch speakers say only Germans learn to pronounce it correctly.

Dutch is almost being buried in a flood of English loans. While this helps the English speaker, others worry that the Dutch nature of the language is at risk.

Dutch seems to be easier to learn than German. Dutch has fewer cases, thus fewer articles and and adjective endings. There are two main ways of pluralizing in Dutch: adding -‘s and adding -en. Unfortunately, in German, things are much more complex than that. Dutch has only two genders (and maybe just a trace of a third) but German definitely has three genders. Verb conjugation is quite similar in both languages, but it is a bit easier in Dutch. Word order is the same: complex in both languages. Both languages are equally complex in terms of pronunciation. Both have the difficult ø and y vowels.

Dutch gets a 3 rating, average difficulty.

Afrikaans is just Dutch simplified.

Where Dutch has 200 irregular verbs, Afrikaans has only 6. A Dutch verb has 6 different forms, but Afrikaans has only 2. Afrikaans has 2 fewer tense than Dutch. Dutch has two genders, and Afrikaans has only one. Surely Afrikaans ought to be easier to learn than Dutch.

Afrikaans gets a 2 rating, very easy to learn.


Filed under Afrikaans, Applied, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Dutch, German, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics

Check Out Moselle Franconian

This is one Hell of a bizarre sounding language. I guess it sounds more like French than anything else, but it doesn’t sound much like French either! It doesn’t sound like much of anything!

Truth is, they are actually speaking and singing German in this video, as bizarre as that sounds. Yes, this is actually German. German with a very heavy French influence, but German nevertheless. It’s Moselle Franconian, a middle Franconian language in this case spoken in France in Sarreguemines right on the German border. It’s probably intelligible with other Moselle Franconian languages spoken over the border. I have heard that Germans visiting the city of Trier say that the Moselle Franconian spoken there might as well be Chinese!

These are Middle German languages that developed off the same tree – Franconian – that went to Dutch. The Low Franconian languages went to various forms of Dutch, and the Middle Franconian languages went to German. The Luxembourgish spoken in Luxembourg sounds something like this.


Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Dutch, Europe, France, German, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Luxembourgish, Moselle Franconian, Regional