Dutch (Nederlands) is a West Germanic language that is spoken by around 23 million people as a first language—including most of the population of the Netherlands and about sixty percent of Belgium—and by another 5 million as a second language. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after English and German.
Outside of 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. Historical minorities on the verge of extinction remain in parts of France and Germany, and in Indonesia, while up to half a million native speakers may reside in the United States, Canada and Australia combined. The Cape Dutch dialects of Southern Africa have evolved into Afrikaans, a mutually intelligible daughter language which is spoken to some degree by at least 16 million people, mainly in South Africa and Namibia.
Dutch is one of the closest relatives of both German and English[n 5] and is said to be roughly in between them. 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 leveled much of its morphology, including most of its case system. Features shared with German include the survival of three grammatical genders—albeit with few grammatical consequences—as well as the use of modal particles, final-obstruent devoicing, and a similar word order. Dutch vocabulary is mostly Germanic and incorporates more Romance loans than German but far fewer than English.