Hollandic dialect

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Position of Hollandic (colour: light yellow) among the other minority languages, regional languages and dialects in the Benelux

Hollandic or Hollandish (Dutch: Hollands [ˈɦɔ.lɑnts]) is, together with Brabantian, the most frequently used dialect of the Dutch language. Other important Low Franconian language varieties spoken in the same area are Zeelandic, East Flemish, West Flemish and Limburgish.


Originally in the later county of Holland, Old Frisian was spoken. Low Franconian settlers only came in the 12th century and 13th century when Flemish settlers (Frankish speaking) played an important part in draining the swamplands between the coast of Holland and Utrecht. They mixed with the original inhabitants and a Hollandic dialect was created that was partly Franconian, partly Frisian. In the 16th century the Dutch language was standardized, the Brabantian Dutch of Antwerp being the most influential. In that time the written language of the county of Holland, then the most urbanised province in Europe, imitated this Brabantish standard. During the Eighty Years' War and especially after 1585, the sack of Antwerp, and the successes of the Duke of Parma in the 1580s between 100,000 and 200,000 of Brabantish and Flemish Calvinist (and other) refugees and emigrants settled in the cities of Holland proper, which had the result of creating a mixture of their Dutch with the Dutch of the residents before this immigration. This new language perhaps locally destroyed most of the original Hollandic dialects, further diluting the Frisian influences on the Dutch language, and certainly slowed linguistic change through the influence on spoken language of the very conservative written standard.

Distance to standard language

As a result the colloquial Dutch in Holland proper (i.e. the area of the old county), spoken in the urban dialects, is today closer to the standard than any Dutch spoken elsewhere. Traditionally, the Dutch of the city of Haarlem is seen as closest to Standard Dutch. The Dutch in Belgium has diverged more during the last centuries, which is partly because the Dutch standard language had no official status between the 17th and 20th centuries there; the language of administration being French.

Shades of other dialects

In Friesland there are areas and cities where Hollandic is spoken, strongly influenced by Frisian. In the north of North Holland province (especially in the region of West Friesland), Scheveningen, Katwijk and other coastal places the original Frisian substratum of the Hollandic dialect is still an important part of the local West Frisian dialect group.

In the region Zaanstreek (middle of the province North-Holland) which is an old and traditional region, the old Hollandic dialect can also still be found. This is called: Zaans. This dialect is without large Frisian influence. Some words are similar due to a little influence of migrating westfrisian farmers in the 13th to 15th century. The subdialect "Zaans" can be seen as one of the few (together with Westfries) and oldest original Hollandic dialects. It is also still spoken today. This also goes for the old "Waterlands" dialect, which is still spoken today as well. The town of Volendam is an example of where they still speak their old dialect "Waterlands". Both Zaans and Waterlands are dialects that when they are spoken fluently, they are not understandable for someone who does not come from that region in North-Holland. However, people who speak Zaans, Westfrisian and Waterlands are able to understand each other better than outsiders. This is because all three dialects use words and sentences that are similar to each other.

On the South Holland province island of Goeree-Overflakkee West Flemish is spoken. In the east and south the Hollandic dialects graduate into more Brabantian forms like the South Guelderish. Utrechts-Alblasserwaards, spoken in the area immediately east of the coastal districts, is variously considered a subdialect of Hollandic or a separate dialect.

List of the subdialects

  • Amsterdams
  • Bildts, Midslands, Stadsfries, and Amelands
  • Kennemerlands
  • South Hollandic
  • Utrechts-Alblasserwards
  • Westhoeks
  • Westlands
  • West Frisian
  • Waterlands and Volendams
  • Zaans
  • Huizers

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