The Dutch language is part of the Indo-Germanic group of languages that includes others such as English, German, and Frisian. Dutch is quite similar to German and English. The language is mainly spoken in Netherlands, Belgium, and Surinam. With the migration of Dutch-speaking natives to other parts of the world, it has now spread to other countries all across the world such as United States, South America, Canada, Australia, and the Caribbean countries as well. It is also in use in parts of its neighbouring countries like France and Germany. Indonesia too has a significant population of Dutch-speaking individuals due to its colonisation by the Dutch. Belgium too has a variant of the language spoken there; however, it is called Flemish. Another language called Afrikaans came into being in South Africa and Namibia when trade between the countries and Netherlands led to intermingling of the races in the 1600s. .
The language is considered to have originated from Lower Franconian that was a Low German dialect. The language in its written form was found as early as the 9th century. However, it was mainly recognised in the 1600s because of the largest work done in the language which was a translation of the Bible in Modern Dutch. To overcome the differences in the Dutch spoken in Netherlands and the Flemish spoken in Belgium, an extensive dictionary called Van Dale Groot woordenboek van de Nederlandse taal was brought out in 1874 and is still consulted to confirm spellings of Dutch words. .
Dutch is one of the recognised languages in the United Nations, apart from being the official one at many international organisations like the European Union, Union of South American Nations, and Caribbean Community. There are an estimated 28 million speakers of the language all across the world; of these, 22 million are said to be native speakers. .
The Dutch language, like German and English, uses the Latin alphabet. Like German, it has three genders in grammar. However, it does not use the umlaut. The diphthong ij is unique to the language. The letters q and x are rarely used in the language. The most commonly used letter in Dutch is e. .
Dutch has four chief dialects; they are Brabantian, West Flemish, Hollandic, and Limburgish. The latter is still a dialect in Belgium whereas in Germany and Netherlands, it has reached the level of a regional language. Other such regional languages that are offshoots of Dutch are West Frisian and Dutch Low Saxon.