Early grammarians linked the name of the Dutch language to the Romans, in an attempt to give it more prestige.
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German dialectologists termed the German varieties spoken in the mountainous south of Germany as Hochdeutsch ("High German").
Subsequently, German varieties spoken in the north were designated as Niederdeutsch ("Low German").
All Germanic languages are subject to the Grimm's law and Verner's law sound shifts, which originated in the Proto-Germanic language and define the basic features differentiating them from other Indo-European languages.
This is assumed to have taken place in approximately the mid-first millennium BCE in the pre-Roman Northern European Iron Age.
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.
Hollands ("Hollandic"), West-Vlaams ("West Flemish"), Brabants ("Brabantian").
It derived from the Old Germanic word theudisk, which literarily means "popular" or "belonging to the populace".
It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after English and German.
Outside the Low Countries, it is the native language of the majority of the population of Suriname, and also holds official status in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, which are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Vlaemsch, Hollandsch or Brabantsch were locally used endonyms to refer to the Dutch language as a whole.