The Dutch Language Institute (INT) describes the Dutch vocabulary on the basis of large amounts of source material. When compiling e.g. historical dictionaries, the researchers describe what the historical source material shows, without making any value judgements. That would be difficult to do anyway, given that in previous centuries there was no such thing as a standard language, let alone spelling rules. For contemporary dictionaries, the content of the sources is of course described as well, but deviations from the current spelling rules are always mentioned explicitly. What determines the meanings of words?
The Dutch Language Institute makes the following historical dictionaries available in one online search application (more information about the individual dictionaries can be found by following the hyperlinks):
- Oudnederlands Woordenboek (ONW, Dictionary of Old Dutch) 500-1200
- Vroegmiddelnederlands Woordenboek (VMNW, Dictionary of Early Middle Dutch) 1200-1300
- Middelnederlandsch Woordenboek (MNW, Dictionary of Middle Dutch) 1250-1550
- Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (WNT, Dictionary of the Dutch Language) 1500-1976
- Woordenboek der Friese Taal (WFT, Dictionary of the Frisian Language) 1800-1975: The "Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal" is a scientific, descriptive dictionary containing about 120,000 entries.
The dictionary articles provide information on the spelling, part of speech, pronunciation, inflection, etymology, meaning (illustrated with quotes), compositions and derivations of each keyword, along with idiomatic information (collocations, proverbs and figurative meanings).
Together they describe the Dutch vocabulary from around 500 to 1976, and the Frisian vocabulary from 1800 to 1975. This dictionary application is a source of knowledge and joy for any language user, from language researchers to crossword puzzlers.
Dictionary of Contemporary Dutch
The Dictionary of Contemporary Dutch (Algemeen Nederlands Woordenboek or ANW) is an online monolingual dictionary covering the period from 1970 until now. It describes the general Dutch language in the Netherlands, Flanders, Suriname and the Caribbean. Its focus is on written language. In 2009, the first ANW words were published online and the dictionary is updated every day. The ANW is an interactive dictionary. Additions and corrections are processed on a regular basis and comments from users are warmly welcomed.
Words have histories. They come into existence, develop and adapt to changing circumstances. They may disappear again, after a brief or longer period of time. The research into the origins and history of words is a discipline called etymology.
Etymological dictionaries specifically describe the origins of words. The most recent etymological dictionary is the Etymological Dictionary of Dutch (Etymologisch Woordenboek van het Nederlands – EWN), which was partially compiled at the former Institute for Dutch Lexicology (INL). Our dictionaries of Old Dutch and Middle Dutch similarly tend to include etymological information.
- Etyomologiebank allows online search where information taken from a large number of Dutch etymological sources has been brought together and made accessible.
Every year, thousands of new words, neologisms, are added to our language. Not only newly formed words are considered neologisms, but also already existing words with a new meaning. Many neologisms are not as new as they seem, because usually two already existing words are combined into a new compound, for example bomdatabank (explosives database), fietssnelweg (bicycle highway) and hangoudere (loitering elderly). There are also many new compounds formed out of the shortened forms of existing words. Examples of this are alcomobilist (alcohol + automobilist, ‘driver under influence of alcohol’), bionade ‘biologisch + limonade, ‘organic lemonade’ and romkom (romantisch + komedie, ‘romantic comedy’). Neologisms in the Dictionary of Contemporary Dutch (ANW)
At the Dutch Language Institute, neologisms are collected in digital files. Some of these neologisms are also included in the ANW (Dictionary of Contemporary Dutch). Not all new words are included in the dictionary, since many neologisms are only used for a short period and then disappear again, for example many new words in the field of fashion, such as jegging ‘jeans leggings’.
Database of the Southern Dutch Dialects
The Database of the Southern Dutch Dialects (DSDD) is an online dialect portal of the Flemish, Brabantic and Limburgian dialects.
Pepel, kapel, flikkenteer, schoenlapper and uiltje: these are just 5 of around 200 words for butterfly that can be found in the Database of the Southern Dutch Dialects. The database contains 390,000 words from the Southern Dutch dialects and is an aggregation of the data from the Dictionary of the Flemish Dialects (Woordenboek van de Vlaamse Dialecten – WVD), the Dictionary of the Brabantic Dialects (Woordenboek van de Brabantse Dialecten – WBD) and the Dictionary of the Limburgian Dialects (Woordenboek van de Limburgse Dialecten – WLD).
Lexical Database of Dutch Dialects
The Lexical Database of Dutch Dialects (elektronische Woordenbank van de Nederlandse Dialecten – eWND) is a digital searchable collection of older and more recent Dutch dialect dictionaries.
The eWND aims to give online access to as many dialect dictionaries as possible and to make them searchable, allowing linguists and language lovers to consult all important Dutch dialect dictionaries in one central spot.
Vertaalwoordenschat (translation vocabulary)
Vertaalwoordenschat (‘translation vocabulary’) is an application for bilingual dictionaries with Dutch as its source language or target language, developed by the Dutch Language Institute (INT). Around the turn of the century, several bilingual files were developed for languages that are relevant to Dutch users, but that were not often catered for on the commercial market. Examples are Dutch – Danish, Dutch – Modern Greek and Dutch – Arabic. These files were commissioned by a special committee for lexicographical translation resources, the Commissie Lexicografische Vertaalvoorzieningen (CLVV), appointed by the then ministers of Education of the Netherlands and Flanders.
The European Dictionary Portal
The European Dictionary Portal is a dictionary portal that helps academics, translators, language teachers and basically any language enthusiasts to find their way to good, trustworthy online dictionaries of European languages.
Included in the European Dictionary Portal are dozens of dictionaries in various languages, among which French, German, English, Dutch, but also less obvious languages, such as Basque, Catalan, Icelandic, Irish, Greek, Macedonian, Russian and Lithuanian.