The Dutch Duolingo team agrees with this decision.
The Netherlands is both seen as plural and singular in our courses too.
In the end there are disputing sources and there is simply not one firm, universal rule in favor of either alternative.
Thanks for commenting, I'm sure you've investigated this in more depth than we have! :)
Dutch comes from Dietsch or Deutsch. We called our language (Neder)dietsch or (Neder)deutsch long time ago, as opposed to Latin or French. Dietsch comes from diet, which means people. The language of the common people, also.
As always, the people forget about our artificial country Belgium... Is it included later on in the course?
Because "The Netherlands" is the proper English way of naming the country. Not to mention, it has the plural definite ending in Swedish as well ("arna").
Do Swedes use a term for Holland? Is this considered another name for the country? (And why are the people there called Dutch??)
I'm from the Netherlands and I can tell you that in our native language we are 'nederlands' and we live in 'nederland' and we speak 'nederlands'. Our neighbours the Germans say in their native language that they are 'Deutsch' live in 'Deutschland' and that they speak 'Deutsch'. For some reason English mixed it up a long time ago and now Nederland where they speak Nederlands = The Netherlands where they speak Dutch, and Deutschland where they speak Deutsch = Germany where they speak German. Also Holland is what we call the two provinces Zuid-Holland and Noord-Holland. So if you say you're from Holland and you're not from those provinces you're wrong.
We use Holland pretty much the same way you do in English – often incorrectly, but what can you do?
The Netherlands is a singular entity, thus is not pluralized. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_plurals#Geographical_plurals_used_as_singular
Where is the Netherlands is not correct. The Netherlands is plural so we say are, not is. At least in American English. Not that my answer wasn't accepted. It was but the one it will tell you it is above is not correct.
Actually, Netherlands is singular.
Historically speaking the lands were separate, but as they became one nation, most languages around the world changed to reflect that, including English.
That said, I don't think it should be seen as wrong to use it as a plural either.
in American English it's not correct to use it as a singular but I understand where you're coming from
These dictionaries say both plural and singular are permitted: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Netherlands http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/netherlands
yeah, but we're on an international forum, not one that's exclusively American. And besides, it's the English that invented the language. ;p
@bemk92 (can't reply to your comment, so I'm doing it here): Generally, both British and American English forms are accepted on Duolingo. Usually American forms are favored, in fact, since Duolingo is based in the US.
True but Duolingo teaches American English so it makes the most sense to have the courses from English be from American English. You know what I mean?
Does having grown up around it count as a source? And if not what kind of source are you looking for?
As you yourself pointed out, the dictionaries that bemk92 refer to say that both are OK, but they don't specifically mention American English, so if you want to prove that is is wrong in US English here, you should have a source for that.
Being a native speaker is not enough, we all have different 'internal grammars' so the fact that you feel something is wrong does not per se prove that it is wrong for all speakers of American English. In fact I googled this and found American native speakers who said is is preferrable here.
I live in Chicago and grew up saying 'are'. Interesting discussion on syntax and regional differences.
It could be a regional thing then. I live in Connecticut if that helps anything.