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West Germanic language spoken by more than 20 million people in the Netherlands, northern Belgium, and a small corner of northern France; it is also an official language in Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. Though English-speakers are accustomed to calling the main Germanic language of the Netherlands Dutch and that of Belgium Flemish, the two are regarded as the same language, called Nederlands in both countries, where efforts have been made to unify spelling and literary usage. Many Dutch-speakers command both a local dialect and Standard Dutch, based approximately on the speech of the major urban centres of North Holland and South Holland. Flemish (or Dutch in Belgium) has its own phonetic and lexical regionalisms.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Dutch language, visit Britannica.com.
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