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Greeting Norms

A common greeting is a handshake with a nod of the head. It is seen as respectful to shake hands with everyone present when arriving and before departing. If someone is not there to introduce you then you are expected to introduce yourself. It would be considered rude not to. It is also seen as rude to shout a greeting from a distance. It is best to simply wave. Between close friends and family, a common greeting is to kiss on alternating cheeks three times. When shaking someone’s hand, it is very important to not leave your other hand in your pocket. The same can be said when having a conversation with someone. It is seen as rude to have one or both hands in your pockets during a greeting or a conversation.

Communication Styles

Direct communication is the norm among Dutch speakers. They are generally very straight-forward. This kind of direct communication is appreciated and valued since it is seen as being open and honest. They are friendly but not overly polite. Being overly polite or giving lengthy compliments is seen as suspicious. Since they are very straightforward, they normally take the meaning of what you say quite literally. Because of this, sarcastic humor as well as irony is not common. In Dutch, there are levels of formality which affect the way you address someone in a conversation. During a formal conversation, the polite way to address someone when saying “you” is “U’”. On the other hand, during a casual conversation you can say “you” as “jij”.

Personal Space and Touching

Personal space is valued between Dutch speakers. It is common to have a reasonable distance when speaking to someone. To be too close is seen as impolite. Light touching is common between close friends and family. It is not common though between strangers or those not close to you.

Eye Contact and Gestures

Eye contact is expected. It is considered rude to not maintain eye contact during a conversation or when greeting someone. Eye contact is seen as a way to show sincere interest. Since direct communication is used, hand gestures and body language are not that common when conversing. Pointing is viewed as rude. Placing your index finger on your temple or your forehead is a disrespectful sign that means the person you are referring to is crazy. This is not only rude but very insulting. Moving your index finger in a circular motion around your ear on the other hand, is not an insult. It means you have a phone call.

Dutch Culture Reference Guide

Dutch Population in the United States

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The Hollandic dialects are some of the most-spoken Dutch dialects. In urban areas, it shares many similarities with the standard Dutch language. Several of the Hollandic dialects are known as “urban dialects” since they can be found in big cities such as Amsterdam.


Flemish is considered “the Belgian variant of Dutch”. This dialect is spoken in the Netherlands, in Belgium, and in France. Flemish and Standard Dutch are for the most part mutually intelligible with only some differences in pronunciation and vocabulary. Standard Dutch tends to use stronger tones than Flemish. Another difference between Flemish and Standard Dutch is that Flemish has a greater use of “old words” that are not commonly used in Standard Dutch. Flemish is also considered to be softer than Standard Dutch. Flemish has several sub-dialects. Some of them are Brabantian, West Flemish, East Flemish and Tussentaal. Both West and East Flemish have been influenced by French and therefore use some words more related to French than to Dutch. West Flemish greatly differs from the Hollandic and Brabantian dialects. A characteristic of West Flemish is that the “g” sounds almost the same as “h”. Zeelandic is considered to be a sub-dialect of West Flemish.


One of the most widely-spoken Dutch dialects is the Brabantian dialect. Speakers of this dialect are found toward the South of the Netherlands and can also be found in Belgium. The Brabantian dialects are considered a variety of Low Franconian. A common Brabantian phrase is “houdoe” which is a way in which they say goodbye that means “take care”. Brabantian is considered to be a Flemish dialect. Another Flemish dialect that is based partially in Brabantian is called Tussentaal. It is considered a more informal form of Belgian Dutch.


Although Limburgish is considered a Dutch dialect, it has been greatly influenced by German. It is spoken in the Netherlands and in Belgium close to the German border. Although Limburgish shares much of its vocabulary with Standard Dutch, they have many differences in other aspects. For example, Limburgish consists of more vowels and consonants than Standard Dutch. The personal pronouns used in Limburgish are more similar to German than they are to Standard Dutch.

South Guelderish

South Guelderish is considered to be an East Dutch dialect. It is also related to the Brabantian Dutch dialect.  Just like Hollandic and Brabantian, it is considered to be part of the West Low Franconian languages. Pella Dutch is a Dutch dialect that is spoken in the United States in Pella, Iowa. It originally comes from South Guelderish. Many of the immigrants who arrived at Pella, Iowa were from the border area between Zuid-Holland and Gelderland and spoke the South Guelderish dialect. This dialect with time became known as Pella Dutch.


Zeelandic is considered to be a sub-dialect of West Flemish. It is also considered a transitional dialect between West Flemish and Hollandic. A difference between Zeelandic and Standard Dutch is that Zeelandic has three grammatical genders while Standard Dutch only has two. The Zeelandic dialect has its own sub-dialects that also have differences between them.

Low Rhenish

Low Rhenish is also known as German Dutch. This dialect is of Low Franconian origin just as Limburgish, Hollandic, Brabantian, and South Guelderish. Even though they are all a variety of the same language family group, they have several differences from one another. Low Rhenish is spoken in the west of Germany along the Lower Rhine from which it gets its name. Although it shares some similarities with German, it is mostly related to Dutch, especially in the areas closer to the Netherlands border.

Dutch Low Saxon

One of the Dutch dialects that is considered to be part of Dutch Low Saxon is Gronings. Other Dutch dialects that are part of Dutch Low Saxon are Northern Drenthe and Southern Drenthe. Although Dutch Low Saxon was influenced by Standard Dutch, there are still several differences between its dialects and Standard Dutch. For example, the numbers are said differently. The number two in Standard Dutch is “twee”. In Northern Drenthe it is “twei” and in Southern Drenthe it is “tweie”.

Surinamese Dutch

Surinamese Dutch is spoken in the South American country of Suriname. There are only a few differences in vocabulary between Standard Dutch and Surinamese Dutch. There are some words used in Surinamese Dutch that are not used in Standard Dutch. Although Standard Dutch was introduced into Suriname by Dutch immigrants and that is still the country’s official language, it was influenced by the languages of other immigrants from countries such as British India. Their influence on the language also made the Dutch spoken in Suriname have differences from the Dutch spoken in European countries.


Afrikaans is one of the official languages of South Africa. Although it is a language and not a dialect, its origin does come from Dutch dialects. Although there are differences between Afrikaans and Dutch, they are mostly mutually intelligible. Dutch speakers can usually read and understand Afrikaans.

Dutch Dialects

There are a few countries where Dutch is an official language. The country with the most Dutch speakers would be the Netherlands. Its official language is Dutch. Another country who also has Dutch as one of its official languages is Belgium. There are around 6 million Dutch speakers in Belgium, most of them in Flanders. Dutch is also the official language of Suriname, a country in South America. It was a Dutch colony for a long time and it kept the Dutch language. There are around 475,000 Dutch speakers in Suriname. Dutch is also the official language of the island country Aruba. It is also one of the official languages of Netherlands Antilles which is a country that consists of several islands in the Caribbean. In South Africa, one of the official languages is Afrikaans which is a language whose origin comes from Dutch dialects. Large quantities of Dutch speakers can also be found in others countries around the world such as in Canada.

Countries Where Dutch is the Official Language

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  • Netherlands

  • Belgium

  • Suriname

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are over 141,000 Dutch speakers in the United States. The state with the highest number of Dutch speakers is California. There are over 22,000 Dutch speakers. The state with the second-largest quantity of Dutch speakers is Ohio with over 12,000. The next three are New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania with over 10,000 Dutch speakers each.

Of course, each of the 50 states is home to many Dutch but the ones listed stand out based on annual data from the American Community Survey published by the U.S. Census Bureau

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