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Dutch dialects are primarily the dialects that are both related with the Dutch language and are spoken in the same language area as the Dutch standard language. Although heavily under the influence of the standard language, some of them remain remarkably diverse and are found in the Netherlands and northern Belgium. The area where they are spoken often correspond with former mediaeval counties and duchies.
The Netherlands (but not Belgium) makes a distinction between a dialect and a streektaal (“regional language“). These words are actually more political than linguistic, because a regional language unites a large group of very differing varieties. Such is the case with the Gronings dialect, which is considered a variety of the Dutch Low Saxon regional language, but is in fact very distinct from other Low Saxon varieties due to a Frisian substrate. Also, some Dutch dialects are more remote from the Dutch standard language than some varieties of a regional language are. Such is the case with West Flemish, which is considered a Dutch dialect but is far more remote from the standard language than most Dutch Low Saxon varieties are. Within the Netherlands, a further distinction is made between a regional language and a separate language, which is the case with the (standardised) West Frisian language. It is spoken next to Dutch in the province of Friesland.
Dutch dialects and regional languages are not spoken as often as they used to be. Although this is much less the case in Belgium (Flanders) than in the Netherlands. Recent research by Geert Driessen shows that the use of dialects and regional languages among both Dutch adults and youth is in heavy decline. In 1995, 27 percent of the Dutch adult population spoke a dialect or regional language on a regular basis, while in 2011 this was no more than 11 percent. In 1995, 12 percent of the primary school aged children spoke a dialect or regional language, while in 2011 this had declined to 4 percent. Of the officially recognized regional languages Limburgish is spoken most (in 2011 among adults 54%, among children 31%) and Dutch Low Saxon least (adults 15%, children 1%). The decline of the West Frisian language in Friesland occupies a middle position (adults 44%, children 22%). Dialects are most often spoken in rural areas, however, a lot of cities have a distinct city dialect. For example, the city of Ghent has very distinct “g”, “e” and “r” sounds, differing a lot from the surrounding villages. The Brussels dialect combines Brabantian with words adopted from Walloon and French.