Dutch or Flemish?

The word “Dutch” (in Dutch: Nederlands) has the same etymological origin as Deutsch (German), meaning “those who speak a popular language (and not Latin).” Despite grammatical similarities, Dutch cannot be considered a variant of German, but is rather a proper Germanic language spoken by some 23 million people in the Netherlands, Belgium (by the Flemish) and the Caribbean (in Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles). In its written form, there is hardly any difference between Dutch in the Netherlands, Flanders, Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles; however, the Dutch, Flemish, Surinamese and Antilleans speak Dutch with a different accent. In 1980, the Dutch and Belgian governments formed an institution called “Nederlandse Taalunie” (Dutch Language Union) that governs all issues regarding the Dutch language. In 2005, Suriname also joined the Taalunie. In South-Africa, some six million descendants of Dutch colonists speak Afrikaans, a language similar to Dutch.

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