DUTCH: THE LANGUAGE OF TULIPS
Also called Neerlandish, Dutch is spoken mostly in the Netherlands (Formed by Northern Holland, South Holland and another 10 provinces) and in Belgium, in addition to the Neerlandish Antilles, in Aruba, Suriname and some regions of South Africa, Indonesia and France.
Considered as an Indo-European language of the Germanic family's western branch, Dutch is the mother tongue of more than 42 million people and has many dialects, among which Limburgish, Zeelandic, Brabantion and Western Flemish.
By Juliana Tavares
Originated from the language of the Francs, ancient Germanic people who dwelt in Western Europe between 400-1100 BC, Neerlandish was called, in the Middle Ages, Diets(ch) or Duits(ch), from where its name in English derives (Dutch).
During the Renaissance, it was known as Nederduits(ch), literally low German, which reflected its close connection with other dialects from the north of Germany.
The term “Nederlans", however, appears documented for the first time in 1482.
And ever since, “Nederlands" is used regularly. It was only in the 17th century that the language became standardized, when the General States, a government body with administrative functions, had the Bible translated into Neerlandish.
Nonetheless, there was clear interference between the written language, with its renaissance and southern reflections, and the spoken one leaning more towards northern Dutch subtract.
That difference was only mitigated in the 19th century, mainly due to the influence of Multatuli, a literary pseudonym of Eduard Douwes Dekker, who intended to merge the written and spoken forms of the tongue, avoiding the use of archaisms.
Yet it was only in 1980, upon the creation of Nederlandse Taalunie, the Neerlandish Linguistic Union—an organization in which the Netherlands, Belgium and Suriname undertook to collaborate with the teaching of the language—, that the differences between Northern and Southern Neerlandish were reduced.
With three classes of vowels and diphthongs, the language, unlike had ensued with English, whose orthography remained unaltered despite evolving in pronunciation, was subject to a series of reforms to keep in line with the changes in pronunciation—the reason why translation to Dutch, especially technical, requires efforts from highly qualified specialists.
Also, both grammatically and in terms of pronunciation, Dutch is not an easy language, in particular to Brazilians.
Among the main aspects that make it rather impenetrable is the fact that it has three classes of vowels and diphthongs.
The tonic accent typically falls on the first syllable, and it doesn't matter if the prefixes are week.
In addition, Neerlandish has an active and passive voice, the indicative and imperative modes, and two simple modes in the indicative: present and past.
Unlike Portuguese, one may use both the perfect and the imperfect tenses, without changing the meaning of the phrase.
The definite article is never used before a first name and, unlike German, nouns are not written with upper case letters.
Upper cases are used only at the beginning of a phrase, in names and nicknames, geographic names, street names, language names (unlike Portuguese) and official holiday names.