|Region||Antwerp, Brussels, East Flanders, Flemish Brabant, Limburg, West Flanders.|
|Total speakers||6.1 million|
|Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.|
Flemish is derived from the name of the County of Flanders, from Middle Dutch vlāmisch, vlemesch. The name of the County of Flanders itself was first attested in Ghent, in 1237, and etymologically it derives from ‘Flandr’, which is Old Dutch roughly meaning ‘that which is flooded/flooded area’; compare Common Germanic *flōðuz, "flood".
Dutch is the majority language in Belgium, being spoken natively by three-fifths of the population. Its various dialects contain a number of lexical and a few grammatical features which distinguish them from the standard language. As in the Netherlands, the pronunciation of Standard Dutch is affected by the native dialect of the speaker.
All Dutch dialects spoken in Belgium (with the exception of East Flemish) are spoken in adjacent areas of the Netherlands as well. At the same time East Flemish forms a continuum with both Brabantic and West Flemish. Standard Dutch is primarily based on the Hollandic dialect (spoken in the Northern Netherlands) and to a lesser extent on Brabantian, which is the most dominant Dutch dialect of the Southern Netherlands and Flanders.
"Flemish" can also refer to standard Dutch as spoken in Belgium, which is very similar to standard Dutch spoken in the Netherlands. The main differences are pronunciation and the relative popularity of certain words and adverbs. There are no spelling differences. In this way, certain words that are mainly used in Flanders could be referred to as "Flemish" even though they are standard Dutch and are listed in the wordlist of the Dutch language.
Among Belgian Dutch vowels, the diphthong "ou/au" (as in bout bolt and fauna) is realized as [ɔu], whereas northern Dutch realizes it as [ʌu]. Among consonants, the northern Dutch pronunciation of "w" (as in wang cheek) is [ʋ] or [v], in some southern Dutch dialects it is [β]. Probably the most obvious difference between northern and southern Dutch is the northern voiceless velar fricative [x], which is equivalent in southern Dutch to either a voiced velar fricative [ɣ], most often when spelt "g", or a voiceless palatal fricative /ç/, most often when spelt "ch".
Belgian Dutch encompasses more French loanwords in everyday vocabulary than Dutch spoken in the Netherlands. At the same time Brabantian, traditionally the most spoken Dutch dialect in Belgium, has had a larger influence on the vocabulary used in Belgium. Examples include beenhouwer (Brabantian) and slager (Hollandic), both meaning butcher; and schoon (Brabantian) vs. mooi (Hollandic) "beautiful". The changes (isoglosses) from northern to southern Dutch dialects are gradual, both vocabulary-wise and phonetically, and the boundaries do not coincide with territorial borders.
In 2009 a Dutch dictionary was published that for the first time distinguished between the two natiolectic varieties "Nederlands Nederlands" (or "Netherlandish Dutch") and "Vlaams Nederlands" ("Flemish Dutch") and treated both variations as equally correct. The selection of the "Flemish Dutch" words was based on the Referentiebestand Belgisch Nederlands (RBBN): an electronic database built under the supervision of Prof. Dr. W. Martin (Free University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands) and Prof. Dr. W. Smedts (Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium).
Professor Willy Martin, one of the Flemish editors, claimed that the latter expressions are "just as correct" as the former. This formed a break with the previous lexicologists' custom to comment on a Flemish word that it is mainly used in Flanders, while the specific Dutch use of its Dutch equivalent remained unmentioned. Thus it appeared that the Flemish word was somehow an aberration of the Dutch.
The supra-regional, semi-standardized colloquial form of Dutch spoken in Belgium, which uses the vocabulary and the sound inventory of the Brabantic dialects, is often called "Tussentaal" ("in-between-language", i.e. between dialects and standard Dutch). Its evolution is somewhat similar to the emergence of Poldernederlands in the Netherlands, a medium of everyday speech heavily influenced by Hollandic. It should be emphasized that neither Poldernederlands nor Tussentaal are dialects or different standard forms, but sociolects.
The tussentaal ("in-between-language") is a primarily informal variety of speech which occupies an intermediate position between regional dialects and the standard language. This tussentaal incorporates phonetic, lexical and grammatical elements that are not part of the standard language but are drawn from local dialects. It is a relatively new phenomenon that has been gaining popularity during the past decades. Some linguists note that it seems to be undergoing a process of (limited) standardisation.
There are four principal Dutch dialects in Flanders: Brabantian, Limburgish, East Flemish, and West Flemish. Linguistically however, Flemish is used as a general term encompassing both East Flemish and West Flemish. Despite the name, Brabantian is the dominant contributor to the tussentaal. Both uses of the term derive from name of the historically most powerful county in the area, the County of Flanders.
The Dutch you learn in this book is standard Dutch, i.e. Dutch as spoken in the Netherlands. But what about the Dutch spoken in Belgium/Flanders? Is it the same?
Flemish (Vlaams) is the Dutch language as spoken in Flanders and parts of the Netherlands. It is a special case- not a language and not a dialect. It has no official status or anything comparable. Wikipedia says that Flemish is the term for a limited group of non-standardised dialects.
This lesson is about Flemish, i.e. the differences between Dutch as spoken in the Netherlands and in Flanders (Belgium).
To learn Dutch, this lesson is not required. If you e.g. want to go to Flanders, Flemish people have certainly no problem understanding the standard Dutch you learn. Still, if you want to understand them, it is a good idea to read this page.
As you read above, it is a group of dialects spoken in Flanders. Flemish is spreektaal, this means it is not commonly used as written language, but as spoken language.
Flemish is even used on TV programs and in schools (by teachers). In short, people using standard Dutch in informal situations seems strange to most people.
The second-person singular jij/je is rarely spoken in Flanders. Instead you'd hear gij/ge (in standard Dutch this is archaic and only used in religious contexts).
The form gij always needs a t at the end of the following verb form (persoonsvorm). In regular verbs, this does not have any consequences, but irregular verbs become either regular or even more irregular:
If your knowledge of Dutch is good, you may notice that these irregular forms are actually more regular than the normal forms (moogt < mogen (stem = mo[o]g) + t, instead of "mag").
When using inversion in standard Dutch, you don't use the ending "t", i.e. "jij bent" → "ben jij". But when using "gij", the ending "t" has to stay:
Note that "ik zen" is also used instead of "ik ben".
When using the second-person plural form, you can use "gijle" ("jullie" in standard Dutch). This form uses the same verb forms as "gij" (like in German), which is not the case in standard Dutch, so:
|English||you walk||you walk|
|Dutch||jij loopt||jullie lopen|
|Flemish||gij loopt||gijle loopt|
You see the difference?
In standard Dutch the form u is formal and jij is informal. In Flanders, u is used for both formal and informal. This is not the case in subject, but rather in object.
To understand example sentences, you should know the following:
|Dutch||jij, je||je, jou||jullie||jullie|
An example (note that this is a sentence which is very strange, but it shows better what this is about)
The form "gijle" influences the other personal pronouns; i.e. you will sometimes hear "wijle" instead of "we"/"wij" (we) and "zijle" instead of "ze"/"zij" ('they). Note that "gijle" uses singular verb forms, while "wijle"/"zijle" uses plural verb forms, but all of them have plural meanings; this phenomenon is also seen in German.
Dutch has diminutive forms, and in Flemish all those forms can be replaced by one form: -(...)ke. Examples:
Surprisingly, there are not only just dialectal forms, but also mistakes and errors which are common in Flanders.
The articles and some pronouns differ from standard Dutch.
Indefinite articles: In Dutch, the difference between gender has no or little influence on these articles. Native speakers cannot distinguish masculine and feminine words. For native speakers in Flanders, they just have to follow this rule/thing to distinguish them:
Demonstrative pronouns: Some examples:
Flemish has a lot of influence from French. See w:nl:Lijst van verschillen tussen het Nederlands in Nederland, Suriname en Vlaanderen for a complete list.
Flemish people often do not pronounce word-final letters. Some examples:
While in the Netherlands the r is being less spoken, in Flemish the h is rarely pronounced:
And of course, like in the whole area of the Dutch language (except the West Flemish and Low Saxon areas), the n' in the suffix -en is rarely articulated: