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HayleySaturday 29th of January 2005 09:06:56 AM
What's the difference? - Hi there! I was just wondering what are the main differences between the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands and Belgium, to that spoken in the Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Curacao, Suriname...) ? Does anyone know?
tmoonSunday 30th of January 2005 06:33:19 AM
- Interesting info there JuanM, I've been wondering about the forms of Dutch in Suriname, Aruba and the Antilles.

I've noticed that some Flemish pronounce their g's almost in the same way as the English, the same goes for the w's. This is probably due to the Walloonian influence, but I'm not sure...
Misao_belgiumSunday 13th of March 2005 02:19:20 AM
- In Flanders (Dutch speaking part of Belgium) we actually speak Flemmish, it's a dialect of the official Dutch. Most words are the same, but like in every region, we have our own slang and expressions. But even in Flanders, there are 'sub-Flemmish', those who live in West-Flanders for example have a slight different pronunciation than those who live in Hasselt (East)...
Leto_AtreidesFriday 01st of April 2005 01:55:25 PM
- the flemmish pronounce their sentences with a fluent soft tone.
And the dutch like to pronounce the s's and the t's.
showbizzmickWednesday 27th of April 2005 08:52:27 PM
- [quote]In Flanders (Dutch speaking part of Belgium) we actually speak Flemmish, it's a dialect of the official Dutch. Most words are the same, but like in every region, we have our own slang and expressions. But even in Flanders, there are 'sub-Flemmish', those who live in West-Flanders for example have a slight different pronunciation than those who live in Hasselt (East)...[/quote]

I beg to differ: there is no such thing as Flemish, at least officially. We all speak Dutch, only with different accents and dialect.
It's the same as British English compared to American English. You can't just say "I speak American", it's American English.
And it's just the same for Dutch: In "Flanders" [color=red]*[/color], we speak Belgian Dutch, and in The Netherlands they speak "(Dutch) Dutch".

The reason I stress the fact that we all speak Dutch is because we need to STICK TOGETHER. Fragmenting and talking of our regional variants as if they're completely different languages, is bad for all parties. We need to stand united and keep forming a language union so that we have strength in numbers.

Because as it stands, about 23 million people speak Dutch, which makes it a medium-size language in Europe. But if you take out "Flemish" you only have about 17 million left... making Dutch less important in the world.

Also, I'm not making this up: Van Dale uses the label (Belgisch Nederlands) for words that are only used in Belgium. Also, the Belgian constitution clearly states our three national languages are Dutch, French and German. Not Flemish and Walloon or something.

So, kindly humour me and talk about Belgian Dutch and (Dutch/Holland/Netherlands) Dutch.

Eendracht maakt macht!


[color=red]*[/color] Officially, there is also no such thing as "Flanders" (Vlaanderen). The three correct terms to denominate our region are Het Vlaams Gewest, De Vlaamse Gemeenschap,and het Nederlandse Taalgebied.
You can see some clarifying images at the bottom of
[url=]THIS web page[/url].

So, when people talk about Flanders, they usually mean Het Vlaamse Gewest, though sometimes they mean De Vlaamse Gemeenschap, which also includes the Dutch-speaking people in Brussels.
KrulWednesday 27th of April 2005 09:25:57 PM
- About the difference between Dutch/Belgian Dutch and that spoken in our former colonies like Aruba, Suriname etc.:

Basically a lot of them barely speak any Dutch, they are obliged to learn it and use it during school, but outside school they have their own language called Pappiliamento ( probably spelled differently ), which is a sort of Spanish combined with influences from Dutch, English and even some French.
TeupThursday 28th of April 2005 09:41:26 PM
- Showbizzmick, I'm sorry, but I do think Flemish will be declared a language in the not too distant future. I can't understand a word of the hardcore west Flemish dialect, I have a teacher who does (he's from Belgium) and he calls himself a bilingual because of it. Even within the Netherlands there are dialects I don't understand, or can't even read, like Brabants. Also, as you guys might know there are about 6800 languages in the world, at least that's being said often. This does however include Zeeuws, Achterhoeks, Brabants, Vlaams, and probably a couple of others as seperate languages already. In one way it's nice because it's easier to become a polyglot then, but yeah, I wouldn't mind if in fact all Germanic languages other than English would become one language.. It's just not gonna happen, we either have to acknowlegde them as seperate languages (otherwise it would mean I can't even understand my own language :D) or go teach standard Dutch everywhere.
showbizzmickSaturday 30th of April 2005 01:41:33 PM
- Hey Teup,
You're right that West-Vlaams, for example, is very different from Standard Dutch and virtually unintelligible to a foreigner who has learned Standard Dutch. The same is true for a vast array of other dialects in Flanders as well as The Netherlands.
But saying this is a bit of an exaggeration:[quote]I do think Flemish will be declared a language in the not too distant future.[/quote]
First of all, let me tell you, I am sure there are several Holland dialects that I would have a lot of trouble understanding. But does that mean they will all be declared a different language? I don't think so. And similarly, I don't think the Liverpool or Manchester dialect would be declared a separate language from English. They may sound very different but they're still based on the standard language, only with shifts in sounds, lexicon, and the occasional regional grammar variation.

In my opinion, West-Vlaams, Brabants and so forth are dialects, and sometimes even accents, rather than languages. The distinction between these terms is not an easy one, and you COULD technically call anything a language. I could call Utrechts a language. You could call Gents a language. This raises the question 'What's in a name?'
I won't go into semantics here and try to define each term, but I'll be pragmatic about it, with some practical considerations.

I have two questions:
Why should Flemish be declared a separate language, and IF so, what is that 'Flemish language'?

A language is a means of communication. The more people speak a language, the better a communication medium it is. Dutch is used as a means of communication between Dutch speakers. Using Dutch, I can have a conversation with someone from Amsterdam, Leeuwarden, Breda, Maastricht, Antwerpen, Brugge, Oostende, Leuven... as long as both parties make an effort to approximate Standard Dutch instead of the regional variant they might speak at home.

So, Standard Dutch is the means we can all use to communicate. Why, then, would there be a need for a part of us to come up with another standard language?
A hypothetical answer to that would be: "All Flemish find it artificial to use Standard Dutch, especially to another Fleming. They would benefit from a standard language that is closer to their own vernacular".

BUT! The above statement does not hold true in practice.
This hypothesis implies that all Flemish share a lot of characteristics in their speech, which are not shared with the Dutch. However, something that greatly undermines this, is something you might not be aware of as a Dutchman: within Flanders, there are many different dialects. A West-Vlaming, an Antwerpenaar, a Gentenaar, an Aalstenaar and someone from Hasselt all have very distinct dialects, with their own words, sounds, and expressions.

This brings up question two: What would be this Flemish standard language?

If you want to make a common language which is equally intelligible to a West-Vlaming as it is to a Limburger, you would have to find a common ground which is shared by a lot of the Flemish dialects.
And let me tell you: there is SURPRISINGLY little that all Flemish share and that is not Dutch.

IF there were to be a Flemish language, it would perhaps use 'gij' and 'uw' instead of 'jij' and 'jouw', and it would change a handful of words (schoonmaken to kuisen, begrijpen to verstaan), delete some (hartstikke, mazzel) and maybe add some, though I can't even think of a word right now that is shared by all Flemings but is not used in Holland (except words related to institutions like Federale Politie or Burgemeester en schepencollege).

Suffice it to say: this shared Flemish language would end up being 99% Dutch, with a little shift in usage of words here and there. Most likely LESS different from Dutch than British English is from American English.
Does such a slight variation really need to be called a separate language?

I don't think so, because there is no good reason to do so. Whether there would be a 'standard Flemish' instead of the Standard Dutch there is now, Flemish speakers would ALWAYS have to adapt to a norm that is different from how they speak at home.
Standard Dutch serves just fine as that norm.
TeupSaturday 30th of April 2005 05:40:57 PM
- Hmm I see. Maybe a good distinction for a 'seperate language' would be if it is spoken seperately, rather than altering the own language to approximate a different standard. That way English would be a different language as I totally switch into it, whilst Zeeuws for example would be a dialect because it's speakers would just speak a bit more "civilized" when talking to a speaker of standard Dutch. It would also include the Flemish dialects into Dutch for the time being. That definition still is a bit dubious, as for example there is no border or anything between Fries and Dutch (Stedsk is a dialect of Dutch influenced by Frisian), but that's just always the old definition trouble.
Calling for example Brabants a seperate language is not so exaggerated as it might seem though, for 4 reasons:
- Zeeuws has been proposed as a seperate language, after debating the minister rejected the proposal. And to me, Brabants is way more off standard Dutch than Zeeuws is. So it's not so far from the edge.
- When talking about same roots etc, remember Dutch started of as a dialect of German. It's just a matter of time and it will get more and more obvious it's a seperate language. And German can be just as intelligable to a Dutch speaker as Brabants is.
- In the count of the "6800" somewhat languages, those dialects are already included as seperate languages. It depends on the social factors: The minister here perhaps wanted to maintain a unity and therefore kept Zeeuws as a dialect, while a foreign investigator would call it a different language. That other point of view is obvious in the Balkans also, Serbian and Croatian are strictly seperate in the opinion of their native speakers, allthough they're just as far apart as dialects of Dutch.
- Everyone is unanimous in claiming Afrikaans is a language, though it isn't all that different, and it isn't a creole or anything in the usual sense, it is a dialect of descendants of native Dutch speakers that live there and are cut off from the standard.

I guessed there would be many Flemish dialects, I didn't know the common ground would be so standard Dutch. At least they are no seperate languages then in the definition of a language being a dialect with an army :D Really, if one of them would've had millions of speakers, it might be reconsidered..

Everyone interested in this topic should check out There are written examples of the dialects (not official, I guess), and if you're really interested you might want to sign up.

showbizzmickSunday 01st of May 2005 01:16:48 AM
- Very true, there are no clear-cut lines between language, dialect, accent, patois etc...
And it's all about numbers. If there were twenty million people who spoke West-Vlaams, it might very well be considered a separate language today.

Anyway, I think my point in the matter is clear: leve het ( al dan nietBelgisch) Nederlands !

tmoonSaturday 04th of June 2005 07:49:34 PM
- Can I just point out about last year's 3-week summer course I went on.

It was organised by the Nederlandse Taalunie, and was in Gent. Officially, it taught Nederlandse Taal en Cultuur.

However, we were constantly being told that were being taught Vlaams.

I really don't think there's a difference between Dutch and Flemish to be honest.
TeupSunday 05th of June 2005 04:05:10 PM
- [quote]Originally posted by tmoon
I really don't think there's a difference between Dutch and Flemish to be honest.[/quote]

That's funny, because often I am unable to understand it without subtitles (it is always subtitled here). Try to watch the show Jambers and see if you can still understand it :D

Speakers that do not speak in a dialect, that to stick to the standard (I bet this is what you were familiar with) are easily understood, until they make exotic sentence constructions (usually distributing the prepositions in different places) or when they use verbs (and somtimes even nouns) that I have never heard of. I have a teacher who has lived in The Netherlands for the past 10 years, but not all his sentences are understandable to me. Funnily, when he's in Belgium the people there accuse him for imitating Netherlandish Dutch, and he is equally misunderstood :)

Apart from the different words and syntax, there can be other misunderstandings. 'Je moet het niet doen' ('You mustn't do it') means 'you should not do it' in Netherlandish Dutch, and 'you don't (necessairily) have to do it' in Flemish Dutch (so, the 'not' applies to 'must' in the one and to 'do' in the other).

Apart from communication it also has social consequences of course, Belgium accent is considered awkward by most people in the Netherlands (I think not because of the soft g's but because of the lack of diphtongs, and the somewhat changed distribution of long and short vowels (for example, 'sociaal' has a short 'o' in Flemish Dutch, and 'nuttig' tends to have a long 'u')), whereas foreigners that don't speak Dutch often find the Flemish way of speaking much nicer to listen to, because the 'g's are so hard in the north.
tmoonTuesday 07th of June 2005 05:09:45 AM
- Heh, that's a shame, I love the hard g's! :D

Yeah, I find it harder to understand Flemish too. I think I phrased what I said earlier wrong - what I meant to say when talking about the lack of difference, was that I don't perceive them as seperate languages.