Languages of Netherlands
RegionalFrisian (2.50%),[2] English (BES Islands),[3] Papiamento (Bonaire);[3][4]
Dutch Low Saxon (10.9%)[5] Limburgish (4.50%)
MinorityYiddish, Romani[6]
ImmigrantIndonesian (17%), Turkish (30%), Finnish (4%), Norwegian (10%) See further: Immigration to the Netherlands
ForeignEnglish (90%-93%) (excluding the BES Islands)
German (71%), French (29%), Portuguese (5%)[7]
SignedDutch Sign Language
Keyboard layout
US international QWERTY
Knowledge of foreign languages in the Netherlands, in percent of the population over 15, 2006. Data taken from an EU survey.[8]
Knowledge of the German language in the Netherlands, 2005. According to the Eurobarometer: 70% of the respondents indicated that they know German well enough to have a conversation. Of these 12% (per cent, not percentage points) reported a very good knowledge of the language whereas 22% had a good knowledge and 43% basic German skills.

The predominant language of the Netherlands is Dutch, spoken and written by almost all people in the Netherlands. Dutch is also spoken and official in Aruba, Bonaire, Belgium, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten and Suriname. It is a West Germanic, Low Franconian language that originated in the Early Middle Ages (c. 470) and was standardised in the 16th century.

The Dutch language does not have the status of official language in the Netherlands.[1] There is almost no legally defined status of Dutch stipulated anywhere in legislation.[1] A long series of parliamentary and public discussions in the 2010s on the question whether to enshrine Dutch as the official language of the Netherlands came to nothing, and the proposal was withdrawn again by the government in February 2018.[1]

However, there are some provincial languages and regional dialects which have received official state recognition.

However, both Low Saxon and Limburgish spread across the Dutch-German border and belong to a common Dutch-German dialect continuum.

The Netherlands also has its separate Dutch Sign Language, called Nederlandse Gebarentaal (NGT). It has 17,500 users, and in 2021 received the status of recognised language.[11]

Between 90%[8] and 93%[12] of the total population are able to converse in English, 71% in German, 29% in French and 5% in Spanish.

Minority languages, regional languages and dialects in the Benelux

West Frisian

West Frisian is an official language in the Dutch province of Friesland (Fryslân in West Frisian). The government of the Frisian province is bilingual. Since 1996 West Frisian has been recognised as an official minority language in the Netherlands under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, although it had been recognised by the Dutch government as the second state language (tweede rijkstaal), with official status in Friesland, since the 1950s.

The mutual intelligibility in reading between Dutch and Frisian is limited. A cloze test in 2005 revealed native Dutch speakers understood 31.9% of a West Frisian newspaper, 66.4% of an Afrikaans newspaper and 97.1% of a Dutch newspaper.[13]

Low Saxon

Minority languages, regional languages and dialects in the Benelux countries

Low Franconian

The Rhinelandic dialect continuum
—— Low Franconian (Dutch and Limburgish) ——
  (2) Limburgish (incl. most of Bergish)
—— West Central German (Central and Rhine Franconian) ——
  (3) Ripuarian (incl. South Bergish)
  (4), (5) Moselle Franconian (incl. Luxembourgish)

Central Franconian

Ripuarian is not recognised as a regional language of the Netherlands.

Dialects fully outside the Netherlands

Luxembourgish is divided into Moselle Luxembourgish, West Luxembourgish, East Luxembourgish, North Luxembourgish and City Luxembourgish.[citation needed] The Oïl dialects in the Benelux are Walloon (divided into West Walloon, Central Walloon, East Walloon and South Walloon), Lorrain (including Gaumais), Champenois and Picard (including Tournaisis).

Planned languages

The central office of the Universal Esperanto Association is in Rotterdam.



  1. ^ a b c d "Nederlandse taal in de Grondwet" [Dutch language in the Constitution]. (in Dutch). Montesquieu Instituut. 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  2. ^ "Regeling - Instellingsbesluit Consultatief Orgaan Fries 2010 - BWBR0027230". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b " - Regeling - Invoeringswet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba - BWBR0028063". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Regeling - Wet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba - BWBR0028142". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Taal in Nederland .:. Nedersaksisch". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  6. ^ "Minority languages in the Netherlands: Do you speak Lower Saxon?".
  7. ^ "EUROPEANS AND THEIR LANGUAGES" (PDF). 6 January 2016. Archived from the original on 6 January 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ a b "EUROPEANS AND THEIR LANGUAGES" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-23.
  9. ^ "Taal in Nederland .:. Fries". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Taal in Nederland .:. Limburgs". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  11. ^ Rapport "Meer dan een gebaar" en "actualisatie 1997-2001
  12. ^ ""English in the Netherlands: Functions, forms and attitudes" p. 316 and onwards" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  13. ^ Bezooijen, Renée van; Gooskens, Charlotte (2005). "How easy is it for speakers of Dutch to understand Frisian and Afrikaans, and why?" (PDF). Linguistics in the Netherlands. 22: 18, 21, 22.
  14. ^ "Gemeente Kerkrade - Kirchröadsj Plat". Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Cittaslow Vaals: verrassend, veelzijdig, veelkleurig". Retrieved 9 September 2015. The PDF file can be accessed at the bottom of the page. The relevant citation is on the page 13: "De enige taal waarin Vaals echt te beschrijven en te bezingen valt is natuurlijk het Völser dialect. Dit dialect valt onder het zogenaamde Ripuarisch."