Old Dutch is regarded as the primary stage in the development of a separate Dutch language. However, as the modern Dutch borders do not reflect any special delimitation of the continental West-Germanic dialect continuum during the Old Dutch period, in which no standard languages yet existed, some linguists prefer to avoid the term “Old Dutch” altogether and speak solely of Old Low Franconian. It was spoken by the descendants of the Salian Franks who occupied what is now the southern Netherlands, northern Belgium, part of northern France, and parts of the Lower Rhine regions of Germany. It evolved into Middle Dutch around the 12th century. The inhabitants of northern Dutch provinces, including Groningen, Friesland and the coast of North Holland, spoke Old Frisian, and some in the east (Achterhoek, Overijssel and Drenthe) spoke Old Saxon.