Why the Word “Dutch” is So Confusing to Us English Speaking People

Who are the Dutch people?  What country do they come from?  Are they the same as the Danish?

It’s time to set the record straight.  The best way for me to learn this is to teach it.  So here it goes.  Let’s go Dutch.

The Dutch are an ethnic group of people who live all over the globe, yet 81% of the population of The Netherlands is Dutch.  So in essence, the Dutch home base is The Netherlands.  This is similar to the way that the homeland of the Jews (who are also referred to as Hebrews) is the nation of Israel, though just as many live in the U.S. as Israel itself. 

However, unlike the Jews originating in Israel, the Dutch did not necessarily originate from The Netherlands; they have somewhat of a mysterious origin, like the Thai people who migrated from China.  In other words, Holland is the home base of the Dutch, not their homeland.

Here are some stats:

13.1 million Dutch people live in The Netherlands

5.1 million live in The United States

5 million live in South Africa

1 million live in Canada

In English, we use the word “Dutch” as both an adjective and a noun.  For example, it could be used to describe a pair of those weird wooden shoes or the Dutch people themselves.  However, in the Dutch language and most other language, there are separate words for the Dutch people and the Dutch adjective.  This is difficult to process because typically we’re used to adding an “s” on the end of word referring to the people group.  For example:  “I see a bunch of Italians eating Italian ice.”  But we don’t refer to Dutch people as “Dutches”.  We just call them Dutch.

To make it more confusing, the country of The Netherlands is commonly referred to as Holland, which is the unofficial name and generic for the country, because it only refers to the major part of a territory.  It’s like referring to Great Britain as England, though Great Britain is also made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 

It is also loosely similar to the way our country is the United States of America, yet our nation is often referred to as simply “America”.  Though Central Americans and South Americans are not referred to as “Americans” like we are.

In closing, anything Danish is referring to something from the nation of Denmark, and has nothing to do with anything Dutch. 

Dutch recap:

The Dutch an ethnic group of people who have a home base in The Netherlands (which is also generically called Holland) and have nothing to do with the Danish people of Denmark.

You officially learned something today.  That’s one more wrinkle in your brain.  Oh, and, you’re welcome.

This painting was done by some famous Dutch guy

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3 thoughts on “Why the Word “Dutch” is So Confusing to Us English Speaking People

  1. As confusing as all this seems, it makes a lot more sense than anything I’ve read on the Netherlands vs. Holland and, fortunately, is far more entertaining to read. The England vs. Great Britain scenario helped sort out the confusion.

    Like

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