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Subsequently, German varieties spoken in the north were designated as Niederdeutsch ("Low German").These were in the Dutch language area calqued as the exonyms Nederduits and Hoogduits and referred now to the German varieties of standard German.
The early form of Dutch was a set of Franconian dialects spoken by the Salian Franks in the fifth century, and thus, it has developed through Middle Dutch to Modern Dutch over the course of 15 centuries.
It is a reference to the Low Countries' downriver location at the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta near the North Sea.
Vlaemsch, Hollandsch or Brabantsch were locally used endonyms to refer to the Dutch language as a whole.
The development of the Dutch language is illustrated by the following sentence in Old, Middle and Modern Dutch: Among the Indo-European languages, Dutch is grouped within the Germanic languages, meaning it shares a common ancestor with languages such as English, German, and the Scandinavian languages.
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.
During that period, it forced Old Frisian back from the western coast to the north of the Low Countries, and influenced or even replaced Old Saxon spoken in the east (contiguous with the Low German area).