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Every now and then I hear some people use Dutch for German, and it is confusing if he means "of Holland" or "of Germany." Could anybody please explain how this usage started being used, and how the word can be used in this sense?
Curious Hiro/ Sendai, Japan
As for your question, I think I had better paste OED's article about the etymology of Dutch than do any explanation.
Dutch, a., n. (adv.)
Also (4 duchyssche, 5 duysshe), 5–7 duch(e, 6 dou(t)che, dowche, duitch, dutche. [a. MDu. dutsch, duutsch, duutsc, ‘Hollandish, or, in a wider sense, Netherlandish, and even German’ (Verdam), in early mod.Du. duytsch, now duitsch, ‘German’, = Ger. deutsch, MHG. diutsch, ‘German’, OHG. diutisc, popular, vulgar.
OHG. diutisc, OS. thiudisc, OE. þéodisc, Goth. *þiudisks:—OTeut. *þeudisko-z, meant ‘popular, national’, f. OTeut. *þeudâ-, Goth. þiuda, ON. þjóð, OS. thioda, thiod, OE. þéod (ME. thede), OHG. diota, diot, people, nation. In Germany, the adj. was used (in the 9th c.) as a rendering of Latin vulgaris, to distinguish the ‘vulgar tongue’ from the Latin of the church and the learned; hence it gradually came to be the current denomination of the vernacular, applicable alike to any particular dialect, and generically to German as a whole. From the language, it was naturally extended to those who spoke it (cf. English), and thus grew to be an ethnic or national adjective; whence also, in the 12th or 13th c., arose the name of the country, Diutisklant, now Deutschland, = Germany. In the 15th and 16th c. ‘Dutch’ was used in England in the general sense in which we now use ‘German’, and in this sense it included the language and people of the Netherlands as part of the ‘Low Dutch’ or Low German domain. After the United Provinces became an independent state, using the ‘Nederduytsch’ or Low German of Holland as the national language, the term ‘Dutch’ was gradually restricted in England to the Netherlanders, as being the particular division of the ‘Dutch’ or Germans with whom the English came in contact in the 17th c.; while in Holland itself duitsch, and in Germany deutsch, are, in their ordinary use, restricted to the language and dialects of Germany and of adjacent regions, exclusive of the Netherlands and Friesland; though in a wider sense ‘deutsch’ includes these also, and may even be used as widely as ‘Germanic’ or ‘Teutonic’. Thus the English use of Dutch has diverged from the German and Netherlandish use since 1600.]
The word I've heard and seen is spelt Dutch, Nona. According to one of my dictionaries, Dutch meaning German is U.S. colloquialism. It may be infrequently used even in the U.S.....
Hiro/ Sendai, Japan
There is a group in people in the U.S. called the Pennsylvania Dutch -- they are Amish and Mennonites originally from Germany who settled in Pennsylvania. They refer to themselves and the language they speak as "Deutsch" (German), but the local people heard this as "Dutch," so the popular term for them became "Pennsylvania Dutch."
KhoffHiro - maybe this is what your dictionary is referring to:
When Samuel Johnson learnt "High Dutch" in old age, to check that his faculties were still intact, he learnt German.
I'm starting to get the gist of how it's used, and how it originally started being used. Many thanks. In a nutshell, Dutch is not oftentimes used to mean German even in the U.S. Am I right?
May all have a happy, brilliant year.
Hiro/ Sendai, Japan
"High German" is now used primarily for the Language of Northern Germany, and is no longer applied to Dutch, which has long been a language of its own.
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