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Dutch is a West Germanic language, spoken mainly in the Netherlands, Belgium (where it is known as "Flemish"), Suriname, and a number of Dutch colonies, such as Aruba and Netherlands Antilles. It is closely related to other West Germanic languages, such as English and German, and is descended from Old Frankish. Dutch is also the parent language of Afrikaans, one of the official languages of South Africa.
With less complex morphology than German, Dutch is closer to English than German in some respects, and also shares numerous similarities in pronunciation with the Scandinavian languages. Dutch vocabulary, however, is much closer to German than English.
In the Flanders region (an area covering the Netherlands, Belgium, and parts of France), there are four main dialect groups: West Flemish, East Flemish, Brabantian, and Limburgish. West and East Flemish have incorporated a number of French loanwords in everyday speech. There are also several regional dialects in the Netherlands, such as Low Saxon and Zuid-Gelders.
Standard Dutch is regulated by the Nederlandse Taalunie ("Dutch Language Union"). There are approximately 23 million native Dutch speakers worldwide.
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