The use of Dutch language in other, exotic countries

Although I know some of you think Dutch sounds like a yowling cat in heat or are too lazy to learn it because we’re speaking quite a few other languages; for me there are enough reasons to be proud of our own, small, original language. For the ones who took the effort to learn some Dutch during their Erasmus, I’ve got some good news: There are more (less rainy and warmer) Dutch-speaking areas in the world!

Colonial history linked different exotic countries to the Netherlands. It’s impossible to deny that the Netherlands did horrible things to the people in their colonies back in the days, and it’s absolutely not something we’re proud of. However, colonial history has contributed to the development of the Dutch language in different areas and to the development of different varieties in the language itself. Since my next travel destination will be Suriname, I’ll be able to tell you everything about the Dutch language over there. For now, I made a list of some exotic places where you can use your Dutch skills!

  1. Suriname:

Suriname was a Dutch colony untill November 1975. Since its independence Dutch is an official language in this country. The people in Suriname speak Dutch and Surinamese. Dutch is the language of governance, justice and education. It is estimated that approximately 60% of the inhabitants have Dutch as their mother tongue. Surinamese-Dutch is also called Dutch with an exotic touch, since the inhabitants originally come from different countries and mixed their languages with Dutch. It’s funny to note that a lot of Dutch cities and villages, like Groningen and Wageningen, can also be found in Suriname.

  1. Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten (former ‘Nederlandse Antillen’)

The official languages of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are Dutch and Papiamento. It might have happened to you that your Dutch date was calling you ‘dushi’. Perhaps not very romantic, but the most common word of Papiamento in the Netherlands is ‘dushi’, which is street-language for honey. It happens that not only the Dutch influence other languages, but we are also stealing some of their original, funny words. The main language of Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten is English, but also here a lot of people speak some Dutch.

  1. South Africa

The South African language has a strong connection to the Dutch language, but it doesn’t belong to the official Dutch languages. However, it’s recognized as an official language and the South African language looks a lot like the Dutch language. Some examples (ask your Dutch friends to explain this):

Dutch South-African
Hartelijk dank Baie dankie
Lift Hijsbakkie
Giraffe Langnekkameel
Cameleon Verkleurmannetje
  1. Dutch East Indies

Many chapters of Dutch history refer to the VOC, the Dutch East India Company. The VOC was originally established as a chartered company in 1602, when the Dutch government granted it a 21-year monopoly on Dutch spice trade. It is often considered to have been the first multinational corporation in the world. With its monopoly the Netherlands disrupted the free trade in different parts of Indonesia, which makes it a sensitive topic in history. Dutch isn’t an official language in Indonesia anymore since 1963. However, Dutch is still used for sources, trade and justice. Besides that, a lot of Indonesian universities offer the possibility to study Dutch. At last, there are still some little villages where Dutch is the official language, like the village ‘Depok’.

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