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Urk is a municipality and a town in the Flevoland province in the central Netherlands. Urk is first mentioned in historical records dating to the 10th century, when it was still an island in the Almere, a lake that would become part of the Zuider Zee in the 13th century after a series of incursions by the North Sea. In 1939, a dike from the mainland to Urk ended the town's island status, just as the Afsluitdijk project was changing the salt water Zuider Zee surrounding Urk to the less saline IJsselmeer. Later in the 20th century, seabed areas surrounding Urk were reclaimed from the sea and became the Noordoostpolder.
The mainstay of the town's economy has always been fishing, and the products of the sea coming in through Urk's harbor continue to be exported widely, although today Urk's fishing boats must travel greater distances to gather them than was required in most historical periods. Religious life has also traditionally been very important to Urk's inhabitants, with active, conservative congregations of the Dutch Reformed denominations playing key roles in the life of the community.
One of the oldest and most distinctive dialects of Dutch is the language which is spoken in Urk. Nearly everybody in this village speaks this dialect and uses it in daily life. The dialect deviates considerably from contemporary standard Dutch, and has preserved many old characteristics which disappeared in standard Dutch a long time ago. The Urkish dialect also includes elements that are older than standard Dutch and were never a part of the standard language. For example, the old word for "father" in the Urkish dialect is taote. This may relate to a Proto-Indo-European word, as it has cognates in languages spoken in the Balkans. The dialect developed this way because until WWII, Urk was an island and could be only reached by boat. Radio was unknown, and the poor population didn't have much money for newspapers and books. Until the modern era, primary education for the children typically lasted only two years; afterwards, children had to help maintain the family and formal schooling ended.
Currently, Urk is no longer an island, and exposure to the standard Dutch and English through the media is widespread. However, the distinctive Urkish dialect is still alive. - Wikipedia
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