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Middle Dutch

Linguistically speaking, Middle Dutch is no more than a collective name for closely related languages or dialects which were spoken and written between about 1150 and 1500 in the present-day Dutch-speaking region. There was at that time as yet no overarching standard language, but they were all considered mutually intelligible.

By many non-linguists Middle Dutch is often referred to as Diets.

Within Middle Dutch we can distinguish five large groups:

  1. Flemish, (sometimes subdivided into West and East Flemish), was spoken in the modern region of West and East Flanders;
  2. Brabants was the language of the area covered by the modern Dutch province of North Brabant and the Belgian provinces of Walloon Brabant, Flemish Brabant and Antwerp as well as the Brussels capital region;
  3. Hollands was mainly used in the present provinces of North and South Holland and parts of Utrecht;
  4. Limburgs, spoken by the people in the district of modern Dutch and Belgian Limburg;
  5. East Middle Dutch, spoken in the area of the modern provinces of Gelderland, Overijssel, Drenthe and parts of Groningen.

The last two of the Middle Dutch dialects mentioned above show features, respectively, of Middle High German and Middle Low German, since these two areas border directly onto the German language-area, as can be seen from a historical map of the regions of that time.

See also Diets, Dutch language, Germanic languages