The worldwide population of Dutch speakers is 23 million people (Ethnologue). The word ‘Dutch’ comes from the old Germanic word Theodisk that referred to the language spoken by the people as opposed to the official Latin. Theodisk became Deutsch in modern German. In Dutch, Theodisk became two different words: Duits, meaning ‘German’, and diets, meaning ‘Dutch’, a term no longer used. Today, Theodisk survives as Tedesco, the Italian word for ‘German’. Prior to Holland’s becoming an independent country in 1550, the English word Dutch was used to refer to any Germanic language. To this day, descendants of German settlers in south-eastern Pennsylvania are known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Dutch belongs to the west Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family spoken by 16.4 million people in the Netherlands (Holland) and in the northern half of Belgium (Flanders, including Belgium’s capital Brussels). It is also spoken Also in Aruba, Belgium (Flemish), Brazil, Canada, Caribbean Netherlands, Curacao, Germany, Sint Maarten, South Africa, Suriname, United States.
Dutch is the national statutory language of the Netherlands where it is spoken by 16.4 million people.
Dutch is a national statutory language of Belgium, along with French and German. It spoken by over 6 million people.
Although there are 80,000 speakers of Dutch (called Vlaams, or Flemish) in the northeast corner of France, it has no official recognition.
Dutch is de facto national working language of Aruba where it is spoken by 5,290 people, but its use is declining.
- Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba
Dutch is the national statutory language of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba with about 21,000 speakers.
Dutch is de facto national working language with over 11,400 speakers.
- Sint Maarten (Dutch part)
Dutch is the national statutory language with 2,000 speakers.
Dutch is de facto national language of Suriname with 200,000 speakers.
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