What Language Does Belgium Speak?
- 1 Is Belgium more French or Dutch?
Is Belgium more French or Dutch?
Are people in Belgium equally likely to speak Dutch as they are to speak French?
- That’s a sensitive subject.
- As I wrote in my first comment, the language spoken is highly linked to the place where you live, with a few mixed language areas, essentially in the Flanders part closest to Brussels, where the trend is an increase of French speakers.
- While being officially bilingual, Brussels-capital region itself is mostly French speaking, only ~7% exclusively speak Dutch at home.
Precise numbers aren’t available because it is forbidden by Belgian law to poll citizens about their native languages (just like ethnic or religious statistics are forbidden in France). All existing statistics are based on indirect measurements. It is estimated that between 40% and 43% of Belgium are native French speakers and native Dutch speakers are between 57% à 60%, and less than 1% native German speakers.
- I believe most Dutch speaking Belgians understand and are able to communicate in French but that less French speaking Belgians can do the same with Dutch, although almost all can understand and say basic sentences.
- In the German speaking area, almost everybody is bilingual German-French and very few issues exist, if any.
- Finally, if you wan’t to avoid being involved in any linguistic trouble and you don’t speak the official language of the area where you are, English is well known and spoken everywhere, usually better than in France.
: Are people in Belgium equally likely to speak Dutch as they are to speak French?
How close are Dutch and Belgian?
The Netherlands vs. Belgium – Differences between Dutch in The Netherlands and in Belgium – It is not only in the Netherlands that Dutch is the official language. There are other countries where they speak Dutch, for example in Suriname. But Dutch is also an official language nearer to the Netherlands, in Belgium. So you might be learning Dutch because you’re moving to Antwerp or Gent.
But what are the differences between Dutch in The Netherlands and in Belgium? Let’s start with where in Belgium they speak Dutch They speak Dutch in Flanders Dutch is an official language in Belgium, but it’s not spoken throughout the whole country. Dutch is mainly spoken in Flanders (Vlaanderen), the Dutch speaking part of Belgium.
The ‘Belgian Dutch’ is called Flemish (Vlaams). The good news is that the grammar in both countries is exactly the same and in general vocabulary is comparable. And you will absolutely not have any problem, if you learnt Dutch in one country using it in the other.
You can compare it to UK English and US English. The differences between the languages in the two countries have to do with the pronunciation, cultural differences and certain vocabulary. Let’s start with the differences between Dutch and Flemish pronunciation. Differences in pronunciation between Dutch and Flemish First, let’s start with saying that there is not one specific correct way of pronunciation in Dutch.
There are a lot of different accents and ways of pronunciation. But if you look at the two languages, there is a difference in the sound. The Dutch are known for pronouncing this as a strong sound. In Flanders this is voiced and pronounced softer. Also the intonation of Flanders can be typified as more melodic than in the Netherlands.
- In general, Dutch people speak in a more staccato way, while Flemish people speak more ‘softly’.
- When you start learning Dutch you might not hear the differences in the pronunciation.
- This is not a bad thing! In the end you are trying to understand Dutch, and the language is the same.
- Cultural differences between Flemish and Dutch According to Belgian people, one of the stereotypes of the Dutch is that they are direct and rude.
You can find this difference in the usage of ‘jij’/’je’ and ‘u’. If you are learning Dutch you might know that there are two ways of saying ‘you’: je/jij or u. U is considered pretty formal in the Netherlands. And the word is increasingly only used in very formal settings or when being very respectful.
You only use this when you want to be really polite in the Netherlands. In Flanders, however, the use of “u” is broader and it can also be informal. And also, whereas in the Netherlands “je” and “jij” are used, in Flemish they usually say “ge” and “gij”. The word “gij” is only used in the context of old texts in the Netherlands, analogous to the English word “thou”.
But in Belgium it is a full substitute for “je” and “jij”. Also, “ge” and “gij” in Flanders are completely informal and thus are never a polite form. The last big difference between the languages in the two countries is vocabulary. Differences in vocabulary In general, Flemish people understand Dutch people without any problems.
But sometimes, there will be some confusion about certain words. For example: “Plezant” is what we in the Netherlands call “leuk” (fun) whilst the Flemish word is, of course, very similar to the English “pleasant”. Or for debit card, in Dutch we say “pinpas”, while in Flanders it is normal to say the word “bankkaart”.
More information about Dutch and Flemish Studio / Studeo is a course for students who are learning Dutch. In this course I talk, together with Tom, about the differences between the Netherlands and Belgium. We also talk about the differences in the usage of the Dutch language. Bart de Pau online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School
Can Flemish understand Dutch?
We’ve all heard of Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, Dutch and so on.but have you heard of Flemish, Sámi and Rusyn? Europe is an extremely linguistically diverse continent with so many languages to choose from. Although there are only 24 official languages in Europe, there are approximately 200 languages in use, today.
We can probably name the home language to each country, but you’d be surprised just how many hidden languages that either don’t have too many speakers or we just don’t hear enough about! Choosing only a few to talk about was really difficult, because all 200 of them have their quirks and unique aspects that make them so tempting to learn.
Alas, I’ve managed to gather 3 cool languages (or language-dialects that are up to controversy) to dive into where they are, what they look like and who speaks them! Let’s take a look! – Belgium: the land of chocolate, soccer and waffles. More importantly, the land of many languages.
Belgium is split into three languages- German, French and Dutch. But this section is titled ‘Flemish’, so where does that fit in? Flemish is native to Flanders, situated in northern Belgium and spoken by Flemings, the predominant ethnic group of the region. Outside of Flanders, the language is spoken in French Flanders and Dutch Zeelandic Flanders,
Though, Flemish isn’t exactly a language on its own. This is a low Franconian ‘ dialect of Dutch’. I say ‘dialect’ since it’s actually a dialect continuum (a chain of language varieties that are colloquially described as ‘Flemish’,) This language is rather controversial, since, despite the title of this blog post, it’s not really a language at all.
In fact, it might be the exact same language as Dutch. These two languages are mutually intelligible, so a Dutch speaker and a Flemish speaker can understand each other just fine. The differences are so close, they are comparable to American English versus British English. They both have different (and some the same) loan words, the accent and word usage is slightly different and Flemish in general has more French influence.
The most prominent differences aren’t any of these, though, but mainly within the pronunciation. For instance, Dutch’s ‘g’ sound is far more guttural than the Flemish who pronounce this letter more like a ‘ch’. The word nationaal is pronounced nasional in Flanders, more nasally such as it is in French, and natzional in the Netherlands, giving more of an English-y vibe than a French one.
- Although slight, if you listen close enough you’d be able to tell if the language spoken is Dutch or Flemish.
- Not to mention, some words are completely unrecognizable from the other language.
- If you’re in the Netherlands, using standard Dutch, you’d want to ask for ‘confituur’ on your toast- from the french word for jam, ‘confiture’.
Whereas, if you’re in northern Belgium, you’d want to ask for ‘jam’ on your toast. If you want to refer to your brother-in-law in the Netherlands, you’d use ‘ zwager’, but if you’re in Antwerp, you might want to say ‘schoonbroer’. The Sámi languages are a group of Uralic languages found in the northernmost part of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. With an estimated amount of about 100,000 ethnic Sámi, there are ony about 30,000 speakers. Considering a wide geographic distribution, this language group is divided into parts.
North Sámi, which is spoken by two thirds of the Sámi speaking populace, is spoken predominately by northernmost Finland, Sweden and Norway. East Sámi is spoken on the Kola Peninsula of Russia and by two groups in Finland- Inari and Skolt. Some sections of the language have formed a dialect continuum, making many of them mutually intelligible amongst one another.
However, this does not count for all the dialects. In particular between Northern Sámi, Inari Sámi and Skolt Sámi, these dialects are quite difficult to understand without learning them, even if you speak another Sámi dialect. These dialects have gone through many years of almost complete isolation (thanks to geographic barriers), which has provided a sharp boundary for the dialects’ mutual intelligibility.
Nearly all Sámi speakers are bilingual, but the languages are seldom used in any education or government. However, these languages do not have uniform orthography at their disposal, nor a standardized version that could be widely used for things such as said education or government. Although with a relatively low percentage of speakers compared to these countries’ populations, many efforts have been made to preserve the language.
Many people marry into other languages and as a result, their children seldom learn the Sámi language. Despite this, there is potential for the language to continue to grow as the Sámi speaking populace surprisingly young. This is rather unique as many endangered languages’ speakers are from the older generation, not the younger.
- Thankfully this is one of the results of keeping the language alive, by making sure it is passed down to the younger generations.
- In fact, as of ‘98, every Sámi child in Norway has an individual right to learning this language as an individual subject in comprehensive school between ages 7 to 15.
- Although there used to be many more, in modern day, there are only nine living Sámi languages with us.
Most of these use the Latin alphabet: Spoken by many ethnic Rusyns in a variety of central and eastern Europe, the Rusyn language can be found in Transcarpathia, travelling westward into eastern Slovakia and south-east Poland. Like Sámi languages, Rusyn is spoken by the ethnic minority of the countries it is found in.
- And like Flemish, the categorization is of some controversy and in some cases, depends whom you’re speaking with.
- Some American, Serbian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian linguists categorize Rusyn as its own distinct language.
- Whereas, Some Ukrainian, Polish and Romanian linguistics say its a dialect of Ukrainian.
Either way, Rusyn is separated into two (geographically made) subdivisions. Carpathian (Carpatho-) Rusyn is spoken in:
the Zakarpattia Oblast of Ukraine. northeastern regions of Slovakia. southeastern regions of Poland. (The variety of Rusyn spoken in Poland is generally known as Lemko language.) northeastern regions of Hungary. northern regions of Romania (in Maramureș).
*For fluent speakers of Eastern Slovak dialects and Western Ukrainian dialects, Rusyn is generally mutually intelligible. However, for other Slavic language speakers, Carpatho-Rusyn may be quite tricky to understand. Pannonian Rusyn is spoken mainly in parts of Slovakia, Hungary and by the Pannonian Rusyns in the region of Vojvodina, Serbia and in a nearby region of Slavonia, Croatia.
Are Belgians shorter than Dutch?
Did you know that Belgian men are the second tallest in the world? At an average height of 1.82 metres Belgian men are only one place off being the world’s tallest men. Furthermore they are just 1 cm shorter than their Dutch neighbours. Belgian men have had quite a growth spurt.
- Indeed, 100 years ago they were 15 cm shorter, back then achieving only 33 rd place.
- Belgian women on the other hand rank much lower than their male counterparts: they are on average 1.66 metres tall, putting them in just 20 th position.
- Researchers at the scientific magazine eLife analysed data from 200 countries, and mapped out the average height per nationality over the last 100 years (1914-2014).
The research involved 1,400 studies using data from 18.6 million people. As a parameter people’s heights were recorded at the age of 18 years, around the time that most people stop growing. Being tall is linked to a longer life, lower risk of miscarriage, cardiovascular and respiratory complaints and certain forms of cancer.
There is also scientific proof that tall people enjoy higher levels of education, and even a bigger salary and greater status in society. Although height is one of the most hereditary human characteristics, other factors, namely foetal growth, food and infections during childhood and adolescence, are considered very important in adult height.
: Did you know that Belgian men are the second tallest in the world?
What country are Dutch people from?
Why are Dutch people called Dutch? – It seems that the confusion stems from the English-speaking people and the reason can be found by studying the etymology of the word ‘dutch’, I won’t bore you with all the details, but the bottom line is that in the late 14th century the word referred to ‘a German language’ or to ‘German, non-Scandinavian continental Germanic’.
- Additionally, the word corresponds to the Old English adjective þeodisc (‘belonging to the people’) which was used to refer to the common language of Germanic people (as opposed to Latin).
- As a consequence, over time, English-speaking people used the word ‘Dutch’ to refer to both people from Netherlands and Germany.
‘High Dutch’ referred to people living in the mountainous region (now southern Germany). ‘Low Dutch’ referred to people from the flatlands (now the Netherlands). And this is not everything. Within the Holy Roman Empire, the word ‘Netherlands’ was widely used to indicate people from the low-lying (‘nether’) region (‘land’).
Can I live in Belgium with only English?
Does English work in Belgium? – English is commonly spoken in Belgium, even though it’s not one of the country’s three official languages. In fact, it’s the fourth most popular language, 🗣 So if you go to Belgium, you won’t have trouble with speaking English.
Can I speak English in Amsterdam?
Do they speak English in Amsterdam? – Yes! In fact, The Netherlands has one of the highest populations of English speakers in the world. Over 90% of the population speak English at a level comparable to a native speaker. If you’re wondering if you need to speak Dutch when visiting Amsterdam, the answer is no.
Why do they speak 2 languages in Belgium?
The Brussels Capital Region (with its 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels) has two official languages, Dutch and French, since it is part of both the Flemish Community and the French Community. To make a political statement, the French Community renamed itself the Walloon-Brussels Federation in 2011.