Characterised as a Dachsprache by sociolinguists, Dutch was created from various dialects and was imposed in order to develop a sense of belonging. With the publication in 1637 of the Statenvertaling, the first major translation of the Bible in Dutch, the language acquired the definitive status of official language. A status well defended as, since 1980, the Netherlands has established a national organisation, the Nedelsande Taalunisie (Dutch Language Union). The main aim of this institution is to promote and maintain the integrity of the language. The Dutch are very proud of their language, which is a symbol of their identity. An attachment partly due to the fact that, with its two hundred thousand words, its vocabulary is one of the richest in the world.
An official language in the Netherlands and in Belgium, Dutch is, as a consequence, one of the official languages of the European Union. As Dutch colonies, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles also use Dutch as their main language. Afrikaans, a variety of Dutch spoken by the colonists during the 17th century, is still used today in South Africa and Namibia. Considered as a bridge language between English and German, Dutch originates from the Germanic languages. More than 22 million people speak Dutch worldwide.
Classification by language family: Indo-European languages > Germanic languages > West-Germanic languages > Low Franconian > Dutch