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[language, geography]

Written by a confused American.

I can't be the only one confused by Belgium and the Netherlands.

I saw this movie that was set in Holland, and I was trying to figure
out what language they were speaking.
But the first thing you'll find if you try to look up Holland
is that it's not really the name of a country.

It turns out Holland is actually the Netherlands.
So nobody speaks Hollandaise.
Holland is actually just two states (actually provinces) in the Netherlands.
But, just to make sure we're totally confused, people still call the Netherlands "Holland."

They do speak Netherlandic in the Netherlands, but nobody calls it that; everybody
calls it Dutch.

And the people who live there aren't Hollandaisers or Netherlanders.
They're Dutch. Even the ones who don't speak Dutch, I guess, are Dutch.
The ones who don't speak Dutch are the Frisian-speaking Dutch; they don't live in Holland, they
live in Friesland.
Maybe they call themselves Frisians. But Friesland and Holland are both in the Netherlands.

Now the Dutch aren't the only ones who speak Dutch. Right below the Netherlands is Belgium.
More than half the people in Belgium speak Dutch. But the people who live in Belgium aren't Dutch.
Even the ones who speak Dutch. They're Belgians.
But Belgians don't speak Belgian.

Are you still with me?

The people in Belgium who speak Dutch live in a place called Flanders.
In the same way that Holland is and isn't the Netherlands,
Flanders is and isn't Belgium.
Flanders is north Belgium. (Belgium actually used to be part of the Netherlands;
it could therefore also be considered as the Southern Netherlands [1], or the higher low lands.)

Now they don't speak Belgianese in Belgium; they speak Flemish, which is actually Dutch.
There isn't really a language called Flemish [2].

So the Dutch Belgians are Flemings. The ones that don't speak Dutch are Walloons.
Seriously. They're called Walloons. And they live in Wallonia. (I am not making this up.)
But, as you can probably guess by now, they don't speak Walloonian.
They speak French. [3]

So by now, you might be developing the same opinion: they should just call the whole
region "Dutch-land" and be done with it. But wait, that sounds a bit like "Deutsch-land "
(Germany), doesn't it?

Well, guess what: according to,
"Dutch is the English form of Deutsch in German (in Dutch, it's "Duits").
[Dutch] has come to mean the people of the Netherlands only in English recently; it originally
meant all speakers of German in the broadest sense. The Dutch called themselves Nederduitser /
Nederduitse (Nether German, low germans) until recently, when they switched to Nederlander (low
landers)." I don't know if this is true, but it sounds plausible...

So here's what you need to know for the test:

* Holland = Netherlands, and most people speak Dutch there, but some people speak Frisian.

* The English Language is part of the Germanic language group. We have our own little subgroup, the Anglo-Frisian group, with just two members:
the English language and the Frisian language. Dutch is in the group next door to us: the Netherlandic-German
group (Netherlandic (Dutch), Afrikaans, the German language, and the Yiddish language).

[1]To add to the confusion, in English "nether" means "down below" (as in "nether world" or
"nether regions"). I don't know what "nether" (neder) means in Dutch, but it would make sense that
it means "low"; they do call these northern countries "the low countries." According to online
sources, "neder" also means "beneath". One online source claims that "Holland" came from
"Holt-land" meaning forest-land, but this same source claimed that "neder" meant "flat". [back]

[2] Nearly 58 percent of the people in Belgium speak Dutch. "Flemish" is the collective term used
for the Dutch dialects spoken in Belgium. It is not a separate language, though the term is often
used to distinguish the Dutch spoken in Flanders from that of the Netherlands.
"Flanders" is the name for the Dutch-speaking northern region of the federal state of Belgium. [back]

[3] This actually seems less silly when you learn that "Waloon" is actually a derivative
of the French "Valone," and isn't actually pronounced "wah-loon". [back]

-Lyberty, Aug 26, 2003

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The World Factbook: Netherlands
History of the Dutch Language
Linguistics & Translation: What's in a Name?