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Owing to commercial and colonial rivalry in the 16th and 17th centuries between England and the Low Countries, a cognate of theodisk (most likely Middle Dutch Duutsc) was borrowed into English and developed into the exonym Dutch, which came to refer exclusively to the people of the Netherlands.Although the wider definition of Dutch that included "German" continued for a while longer in the US and survived there in the name Pennsylvania Dutch, a local German dialect.These were in the Dutch language area calqued as the exonyms Nederduits and Hoogduits and referred now to the Germanic spoken in the German state.As a result, the Hoog ("High") was dropped in the Dutch exonym Hoogduits in the sense of the German standard language, meaning that Duits narrowed down as Dutch exonym for German.Early grammarians linked the name of the Dutch language to the Romans, in an attempt to give it more prestige.

However, the 19th century saw the rise of dialectology and the categorisation of dialects.

They remained mutually intelligible throughout the Migration Period.

Dutch is part of the West Germanic group, which also includes English, Scots, Frisian, Low German (Old Saxon) and High German.

Historical minorities on the verge of extinction remain in parts of France Dutch, like English, has not undergone the High German consonant shift, does not use Germanic umlaut as a grammatical marker, has largely abandoned the use of the subjunctive, and has levelled much of its morphology, including most of its case system.

In both Belgium and the Netherlands, the native official name for Dutch is Nederlands, and its dialects have their own names, e.g.

Hollands ("Hollandic"), West-Vlaams ("West Flemish"), Brabants ("Brabantian").

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