Quick Flemish language facts: how is it different from Dutch

flemish language facts

Quick Flemish language facts: how is it different from Dutch

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(Last Updated On: June 22, 2017)

There have been questions in regards to the Flemish language and how is it different from Dutch. Here are some Flemish language facts to clear things up.

Belgium has three national languages: Dutch, French and German.  With three-fifths of the population being native speakers, Dutch is considered to be the majority language. There are a number of Dutch dialects spoken in Belgium with pronunciation, grammatical and lexical differences that separate them from the standard Dutch. Dutch speakers mostly reside on the Flemish Region creating the Dutch variety commonly referred to as “Flemish”.

Quick Flemish language facts

The usage of the term “Flemish” to refer to the Dutch variety in Northern Belgium is considered informal. “Flemish” in reference to language is used synonymously to Tussentaal, which is the “in-between-language” used in Dutch Linguistics to describe a variety of the Dutch Language. Linguistically, the term “Flemish” is used in other different ways. It is used as an indication of any local dialects in the Flanders region, as well as non-standard variations of the Dutch language in the provinces of French Flanders and West Flanders.

With this, the usage of Flemish in reference to the Dutch language does not separate it from the Standard Dutch or the other dialects. It is for this reason that linguists avoid the usage “Flemish” to refer to the Dutch Language preferring the usage of “Flemish Dutch”, “Belgian Dutch” or “Southern Dutch”. Flemish formally refers to the Flemish Region, which is one of the three official regions of the kingdom of Belgium. Linguistically, it also refers to the culture and the people residing in this region. For linguists, it would be more accurate to use the term “Flemish” in this way: “In Flanders, the Flemish part of Belgium, Flemish people speak Dutch.”

Dutch in the Flemish Region

As with any language variation, pronunciation, vocabulary and expressions slightly deviate depending on the native origin of the speaker. These small deviations are not substantial enough to establish a distinct language, separate from its original form. Though it is recognized as an informal variation of the Dutch language, “Flemish” is considered as one of the historical languages spoken in the former County of Flanders.

The Flemish region has four principal variations of the Dutch Language. These include East Flemish, West Flemish, Brabantian and Limburgish. While Brabantian is the main contributor to the Flemish Dutch tussentaal, only the variations West Flemish and Limburgish are occasionally considered as separate languages.

From the above Flemish language facts two conclusions arise: The Flemish language is being used actively and it is different from Dutch. As such, when in need for translation services you should clearly state that you want your content translated into Flemish instead of Dutch.