flemish and dutch

Flemish vs Dutch: What Is The Major Difference?

Flemish vs Dutch: What Is The Major Difference?

(Last Updated On: November 17, 2023)

If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between Flemish and Dutch, you’re not alone.

Both are closely related to each other and are native to the Netherlands, Belgium and Suriname, yet many people have never been able to differentiate between them with any sort of clarity.

Luckily, there are plenty of differences between flemish vs dutch that make their identity pretty easy to spot once you know what to look for!

Read on to learn more in this blog post.


The Dutch language is spoken by about 25 million people in the Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname, Indonesia and other countries.

Interestingly, the Flemish language is a major language spoken in a large portion of Northern Belgium. There are some differences in vocabulary between these two languages, but they are mutually intelligible.
The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch.

It is a West Germanic language that originated around 500 CE in what is now Northern France and Belgium.

Over time it has grown more similar to English than its Western Germanic siblings like German and Afrikaans, mostly because of its exposure to English during the colonization of Asia and South Africa during the 18th century.

Flemish is a dialect of Dutch spoken in Belgium, or what we like to call Belgian Dutch.

It is a separate language that has its own set of dialects depending on which region you are in. If you’re looking for some spicy words to use with your friends, be sure to check out the Ghent dialect!

The Dutch language is adaptive and has evolved. Some words have been adopted from other languages, such as German.

This makes it difficult for us to find native speakers because they are often not fluent in all versions of Dutch-Flemish.

Dutch-Flemish translation is necessary because there are so many regional variations of Flemish that it becomes more efficient for both parties if they can communicate using one common language.

difference between dutch and flemish
flemish language


One of the most notable differences between Dutch speakers and Flemish speakers is their religious beliefs.

Generally, Dutch people are more likely to be Protestant or Catholic, while Flemish people are more likely to be Muslim.

As a result, there is also a difference in language usage. Dutch dialects use different words for certain things, such as ‘church’ instead of ‘mosques’ or ‘synagogue’.

There are also some cultural differences in their food and clothing styles that stem from these different religions.

Dutch people tend to eat meat on Christmas Eve while Muslims will not eat any meat or animal products during Ramadan.

The Dutch wear clogs over shoes, while Flemish people do not wear clogs at all.


The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg are collectively known as Low Countries because they’re in low-lying regions between France, Germany, and the North Sea.

Dutch is a West Germanic language that descends from the dialects spoken by Saxons who came to Western Europe after their conversion to Christianity.

The most populous Dutch dialect is Brabantian (spoken in Brussels), followed by Limburgish (spoken in Limburg) and Hollandic (spoken in the western Netherlands).

In Belgium, there are three main languages – French (about 60%), Dutch (about 32%), and German (about 3%). In Luxembourg, people speak French or Luxembourgish.

Government & Political Climate

Both are variants of Dutch, but in Belgium, Dutch is often called Flemish. The Netherlands has always been an independent country. After they became a republic in 1814, it became known as Holland.

The Netherlands is still a kingdom ruled by Queen Máxima of the House of Orange-Nassau.

The Dutch person is typically associated with Holland, but many regions speak Dutch as their primary language and are very proud of their culture.

flemish vs dutch
what is flemish

Alphabets and Writing Systems

The main difference between the two languages is that they are written in different alphabets.

Dutch uses letters from both Latin and Roman alphabets, whereas Flemish only uses letters from the Latin alphabet.

The main difference in writing does not affect speaking, as people who speak either language can understand each other with no difficulty.

The biggest difference between these two languages comes when it comes to writing: there is a huge divide between those who can read Dutch but not Flemish, and vice versa.

There are also some differences in vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation.

For example, ‘bakker’ (baker) is pronounced like ‘backer’ in Dutch, while it would be pronounced like ‘beck-er’ in Flemish.

Meanwhile, ‘gekookte eieren’ (boiled eggs) are called ‘gijjkoken eiten’ in Dutch, whereas they are called ‘gekookte eieren’ in Flemish.

A lot of words have been shared by both languages through time, though most often they will have been borrowed by Dutch rather than borrowed by Flemish.

Both languages may have derived from a common ancestor; indeed the primary dialects of Dutch derive more heavily from Low Franconian rather than any dialects spoken in Holland.


Can Dutch and Flemish speakers understand each other?

Yes, Dutch and Flemish speakers can understand each other, but they speak very different languages.

What is the closest language to Dutch?

Dutch is a West Germanic language spoken by about 23 million people, with most living in Belgium, the Netherlands, or Suriname. It is closely related to English, Frisian and Afrikaans.

What language is Flemish closest to?

Flemish is a West Germanic language, so it’s closest to English. It also shares many similarities with German, which is also a West Germanic language.

Are people from Belgium considered Dutch?

The 90s were a great time for fashion, but it was also when people stopped wearing Von Dutch. It’s not easy to pinpoint one specific reason, but it could be that fashion changed and some brands started to make clothes in China.

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