Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Queen's Day: The Languages Of The Netherlands

The Dutch are famous for tulips...
Not to mention another plant.
Yesterday the Netherlands crowned a new king, its first in over 100 years. It was also Queen's Day in the Netherlands, and the coronation of Willem-Alexander being held on this date was no coincidence. As of next year though, Queen's Day, or Koninginnedag in Dutch, will be moved a few days forward to Willem-Alexander's birthday, the 27th April, and appropriately renamed to Koningsdag, which of course means King's Day.

In honour of the Dutch, we thought we'd look at the languages of the Netherlands. We won't be looking at Dutch however, since we will have a language profile for it in the coming weeks. Instead, we'll take a look at some of the lesser-known "native" languages of the Netherlands.

Limburgish

With roughly 825,000 speakers, Limburgish is the second most-spoken minority language in the Netherlands. The language has no official status in Belgium or Germany, where it is also spoken, but does hold regional language status in the Netherlands.

Due to political reasons, Limburgish was not granted any official status in Belgium because it met with resistance from Flemish groups due to fears that it would weaken their political power. The Dutch were much more relaxed about the situation. Well done!

West Frisian

The language of Friesland is a Germanic language like German, English and Dutch. There are around 350,000 speakers in the Netherlands and the language holds official status in the region of Friesland.

There are also speakers of the language in Germany, where it also holds an official status. In the Netherlands the language is regulated by the Fryske Academy, whereas in Germany there is no official regulatory body.

Frisian and English were once closely related and still remain so. The only living language more closely related to English is Scots.

The Netherlands is also home to large numbers of speakers of other languages, but as we like to feature languages in their native settings, we'll save those for our language profiles or country-specific posts!