The Dutch language, known in Dutch as Nederlands, is a low Germanic language. It is most closely related to Afrikaans (which has evolved to the point that most consider it a separate language), Nedersaksisch (Low Saxon)*, Plattdeutsch (Low German)*, and Pennsylvania Dutch (which is actually a dialect of Plattdeutsch). Flemish (Vlaams), spoken in parts of Belgium and some parts of France, is a dialect of Dutch, though it may be politically correct in some circles to call it a separate language. Likewise, Dutch dialects or creoles are widely spoken in former Dutch colonies---for example, Sranan in Suriname.

*: `Plattdeutsch', `Nedersaksisch', and `Niedersächsisch' are really three different words for the same language. It all depends on where you're from.

Like most Germanic languages, Nederlands has both weak and strong verbs, with the strong ones following the patterns of ablaut. It does not generally make use of umlaut, though.

Dutch vowels are (in ASCII IPA):

  • /i:/ (hier)
  • /e/ or /I/ (dit)
  • /eI/ (steen)
  • /E/ (met)
  • /u/ (boek)
  • /oU/ (boot)
  • /o/ (kop)
  • /O/ (nog) (the distinction between these two may be dialectical)
  • /OU/ (oud, gauw)
  • /a./ (kaas)
  • /A/ (dat) (many dialects reverse the sounds, but not the lengths, of these two)
  • /y/ (minuut)
  • /Y/ or /I./ (dus)
  • /YI./ (neus)
  • /WY/(uit)
  • /EI/ (vijf, trein)
  • /@/ (beginnen, terug, gierig, lelijk)