Welcome to the Zealandic Wiktionary. This page offers some basic information on the language, the project and how you may use it.
What is Zealandic? edit
Zealandic, or Zeelandic, is a regional language spoken in the southwest of the Netherlands - in the province of Zealand and an adjacent part of South Holland. It is transitional between the Hollandic dialect of Dutch to the north, and West Flemish to the south. All in all, the language is quite similar to Dutch and generally considered one of its dialects.
However, there is no fixed criterion for what is a separate language and what isn't. The simple fact is that Zealandic is distinct from Standard Dutch and can diverge from it quite strongly. It can be very hard to understand for Dutch speakers. This split runs relatively deep: the differences go back to the late Middle Ages, when Middle Dutch was developing into modern Dutch. Many changes that separate modern Dutch from Middle Dutch did not occur in Zealandic and West Flemish. Moreover, these two regional languages made a number of innovations of their own. For these reasons, Ethnologue consideres Zealandic a separate language and so do we.
How many people speak Zealandic? edit
A few hundred thousand. Like many regional languages, Zealandic is in decline. The area in which it is spoken has about 400,000 inhabitants. According to research done in the 1990s, about 60% of these spoke the language at home. These numbers have certainly dwindled, and the younger generation tend to be raised in Dutch (though this certainly differs from place to place, and between communities!). However, many of them still know Zealandic as a second language. Therefore it is safe to say at least 200,000 people are fluent in Zealandic, and probably more.
What's the purpose of a Zealandic Wiktionary? edit
Of course, speakers don't absolutely need a Zealandic Wiktionary. All speakers are fluent in Dutch and many are also fluent in English. This discussion is nearly as old as Wikimedia itself. As early as 2001, Catalan and Esperanto versions of Wikipedia came online. Such projects exist for anyone who might want to write and/or read them. A Zealandic Wikipedia has existed since 2006, so why not have a Zealandic Wiktionary as well?
Still, we have some very specific goals. Large Wiktionaries tend to be dialect-unfriendly (the French Wiktionary being the main exception). As a language with its own ISO 639 code, Zealandic is accepted alright. But people aren't fond of its lack of standardization. Zealandic only exists in the form of various dialects, and there is no standard spelling (though there are guidelines that we, too, make use of). Here, the Zealandic language gets free space to be described in all its variational intricacies and subtlety.
Moreover, our brothers and sisters - other regional languages from the Netherlands and Belgium - are also of interest to us. These include Hollandic, East Flemish, and Brabantic. On the English Wikipedia, these are treated as "regional Dutch"; on the Dutch Wikipedia, they aren't even allowed! This is a mistake. Even though these dialects belong to Dutch in that they took part in the sound shifts we've described above, they are still different language codes. They have their own grammars, vocabularies, and phonologies, all of which are different from Standard Dutch. They can't and shouldn't be reduced to mere accents, like big Wiktionaries do. That's why we let them flourish.
What can this site do for me? edit
Our primary intended audience are Zealandic speakers who want to improve their vocabulary or grammar. These days, the language is under heavy Dutch influence, so even native speakers may not know the 'proper' word for something, or feel the need to check the conjunction of certain verbs.
However, with the advent of the Internet came the possibility to find out things. People that might have never heard about Zealandic before may now become interested in it. Some people may want to learn Zealandic even if they never set foot in Zealand at all. The project is also intended for these people. Since late 2022 we have been adding English entries. While they are defined in Zealandic, they may also be helpful for people from abroad. The entries offer the Zealandic translations of English words - and clicking them yields an amount of detail that Wikipedias in other languages will never provide.