Belgian Dutch

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Belgian Dutch

Spoken in

BelgiumBelgium Belgium
speaker 7 million
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2 ( B ) dut ( T ) nld
ISO 639-3


Belgian Dutch comprises a number of language forms in Belgium that are spoken in the Flanders region and the bilingual Brussels-Capital region.

These include standard Belgian Dutch and several dialects as well as the so-called intermediate language (a transitional form between standard Dutch and the dialects).

Belgian Dutch is often called "Flemish" (Vlaams) , corresponding to the name " Flamen " (Vlamingen) for the Dutch- speaking inhabitants of Belgium. In the narrower linguistic sense, “Flemish” only refers to the two dialects West and East Flemish .

Division according to Willemyns

The linguist Roland Willemyns from the Free University of Brussels distinguishes five forms of language in Dutch Belgium, albeit with flowing transitions:

  • Basic dialect: A “pure”, primary local or regional dialect in the north of Belgium is not restricted to rural areas and private occasions. The vast majority of Dutch-speaking Belgians can speak a basic dialect without always using it.
  • Traffic dialect : A traffic dialect is a balancing dialect that is consciously adapted to the standard language. Words from the standard language are sometimes included. Dialect speakers with insufficient command of the standard language (e.g. people with little schooling) use this form of language to communicate with those who do not understand the local dialect .
  • Regional colloquial language: The regional colloquial language, not to be confused with the Regiolect in the Netherlands, is a mixture of standard language and dialect. It is spoken in supraregional communication, the urban middle class and people with higher education in family situations.
  • Intermediate language, "Belgisch Beschaafd (Nederlands)": The "Belgisch-Kultivierte (Dutch)" is a form of language that is very close to the standard language and is used throughout the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. It is not only influenced by local dialects, because there are Brabant regional influences outside of Brabant as well ; thus Brabantisch sets the tone to a certain extent in this language form. Other characteristics are archaisms , Gallicisms and language purisms . Furthermore, this form of language has a literal pronunciation and hyper-correct forms. Standard language speakers use the intermediate language in certain situations, for example in order not to appear affected .
  • Standard language: The standardized standard language, standaardtaal, is in principle the same as in the Netherlands , despite some Belgian peculiarities ( Belgianisms ). It is the usual form of speech on radio and television, but almost entirely with a Belgian-influenced sound.


After Belgium was founded (1830), French became the only official language of the new state, although the majority of the population spoke Dutch dialects . The newly emerging bourgeoisie of Flanders later revolted against the dominance of the French language. Dutch has had official status since 1878.

See also: Flemish-Walloon conflict

The forms of language

Standard Dutch in Belgium

Belgium with the Dutch-speaking area in green, inside the officially bilingual Brussels

The official language in Flanders is Dutch. However, there are differences to the language used in the Netherlands. This is also stated by the Dutch language union. In addition, it defines standard language in Belgium as:

het Nederlands dat algemeen bruikbaar is in het publieke domein in België, dwz in all important sectors van het openbare leven, zoals het bestuur, de administratie, de Rechtsspraak, het onderwijs en de media
(Dutch, which is widely used in public spaces in Belgium, i.e. in all major sectors of public life, such as government and administration, judiciary, education and the media)

In the large dictionary of the Dutch language (Van Dale), words that are used in Belgium are marked with a (Belg.) , Sometimes also with (niet alg.), I.e. H. "Not general".

Until the 1970s, many Flemings could write and understand the standard language, but hardly spoke it themselves. So there was a diglossic situation , a division of tasks between dialect and standard language. This continues regionally, especially in the area of ​​the West Flemish dialect, to this day.

The Belgian Standard Dutch is sometimes called VRT -Nederlands in Belgium . VRT is the national broadcaster of Flanders. There, as with other television stations in Belgium, a language advisory board ensures that the standard language is used correctly. The VRT advisory board, currently Ruud Hendrickx, thus has a great influence on Standard Dutch in Belgium. Ruud Hendrickx has been editor-in-chief of Van Dale's Flemish department, which publishes the Great Dictionary of the Dutch Language , since May 2009 .

Intermediate language

An intermediate language (tussentaal) is a sociolect of the Dutch language that is primarily characterized by the Brabant dialect. The term is controversial because it suggests a unit. Although the intermediate language is similar across Flanders, there are differences from city to city. Essential characteristics of a Regiolekt also apply to the intermediate language. However, this classification is also controversial. The term was coined by scientists from Ghent University . Synonyms are Verkavelingsvlaams, Schoon Vlaams and Soapvlaams - the latter because the intermediate language, understandable to all Flemings, in connection with the simulated everyday life in Flemish TV series seems less artificial for Belgian and especially for Brabant viewers than standard Dutch, which in fact does not in Belgium is spoken.

A striking feature is the use of gij 'you' instead of jij . In addition, the politeness forms u and uw are usually used for jou 'you' and jouw 'your' . A peculiar clitization is widespread in the intermediate language: Ben jij ('Are you?') Becomes Zijdegij and Hoe heet je? ('What's your name?') Becomes Oe noemde gij? The syllable -de already stands for you or in a more general sense for man . The intermediate language then differentiates the gender of indefinite articles, in contrast to the standard Dutch language. For example, it says ne man, een vrouw, e kind instead of een man, een vrouw, een child .

The emergence of the intermediate language can be traced back to Flemings who distanced themselves from the dialect but could not or did not want to speak standard Dutch. The standard Dutch language was not taught to speakers in Flanders over generations, as it was in the Netherlands, but was introduced abruptly at the end of the 19th century (as a replacement for French) and aroused resistance and rejection due to its considerable difference from the local dialects.


Dutch dialects in the Netherlands and Northern Belgium.
The following are spoken in Northern Belgium ( Flanders and Brussels ):
1 West Flemish, 23 East Flemish,
22 Brabantian, 24 Limburgish

Two Flemish dialects and two other Dutch dialects are spoken in Belgium :

Since Flemish is also the adjective for the entire Flanders region , the Belgians often use the term Flemish synonymously with Dutch- speaking . When the Dutch refer to a language usage as Flemish (or Belgian ), they usually also mean the Dutch spoken in Belgium as a whole, without any precise knowledge of the individual dialects.

Brabant dialects have had a decisive influence on the standard Dutch language since the 16th century. The port city of Antwerp , the university city of Leuven , to a lesser extent Mechelen and earlier Brussels form the geographical and cultural center of the Flemish community. This has resulted in a great Brabant dominance in television and radio.

Dialects play a bigger role in Flanders than in the Netherlands. 53% of students in Flanders speak a dialect, compared to only 23% in the Netherlands. However, the dialects are gradually declining in favor of the intermediate language or the regional colloquial language, i.e. they are becoming more uniform. This effect is stronger in the east than in West Flanders, for example.

Examples of differences to the Dutch of the Netherlands

Belgian Dutch  Dutch of the Netherlands  German
ambitious vervelend, annoying annoying, boring, difficult
borstel bezem broom
camion vrachtwagen truck
curieus inquisitive curious
goesting interest, lust Lust
property onroerende goederen, vastgoed property
to crawl kersen Cherries
piloot (Formula 1 or rally) (auto) coureur Racing driver
plan plategrond, scheme, kaart Map, plan
plezant peculiar, leuk funny
het is beginning to rain het is gaan rain it has started / started to rain
aan location prijzen voor / tegen location prijzen at low prices
seffens straks soon, shortly
solden uitverkoop, opruiming, koopjes Sale
vijs schroef screw

See also

Web links

supporting documents

  1. ^ A b Herman Vekeman, Andreas Ecke: History of the Dutch language. Bern 1992, ISBN 3-906750-37-X .
  2. What is standaardtaal? (algemeen) .
  3. - Standaardtaal in Belgium .
  4. a b Taalschrift - Reportage - Televisienederlands en Schoon Vlaams .
  6. Nederlandse Taalunie (Ed.): Taalpeilonderzoek 2007. Onderwijs Nederlands in Nederland, Vlaanderen en Suriname. The Hague 2007, p. 72 ( PDF; 0.7 MB ).