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About Flemish Language

In English usage, Flemish (Dutch: Vlaams) can refer to Belgian Dutch (Belgisch-Nederlands), the national variety of the Dutch language as spoken in Belgium, be it standard (as used in schools, government and the media) or informal (as used in daily speech, "tussentaal "); East Flemish, West Flemish or French Flemish, related southwestern dialects of Dutch.

Etymology

Flemish is derived from the name of the County of Flanders, from Middle Dutch vlāmisch, vlemesch. The name of the County of Flanders itself was first attested in Ghent, in 1237, and etymologically it derives from ‘Flandr’, which is Old Dutch roughly meaning ‘that which is flooded/flooded area’; compare Common Germanic *flōðuz, "flood".

Dutch in Flanders

Dutch is the majority language in Belgium, being spoken natively by three-fifths of the population. Its various dialects contain a number of lexical and a few grammatical features which distinguish them from the standard language. As in the Netherlands, the pronunciation of Standard Dutch is affected by the native dialect of the speaker.

All Dutch dialects spoken in Belgium (with the exception of East Flemish) are spoken in adjacent areas of the Netherlands as well. At the same time East Flemish forms a continuum with both Brabantic and West Flemish. Standard Dutch is primarily based on the Hollandic dialect (spoken in the Northern Netherlands) and to a lesser extent on Brabantian, which is the most dominant Dutch dialect of the Southern Netherlands and Flanders.

"Flemish" can also refer to standard Dutch as spoken in Belgium, which is very similar to standard Dutch spoken in the Netherlands. The main differences are pronunciation and the relative popularity of certain words and adverbs. There are no spelling differences. In this way, certain words that are mainly used in Flanders could be referred to as "Flemish" even though they are standard Dutch and are listed in the wordlist of the Dutch language.

Lexical differences

Belgian Dutch encompasses more French loanwords in everyday vocabulary than Dutch spoken in the Netherlands. At the same time Brabantian, traditionally the most spoken Dutch dialect in Belgium, has had a larger influence on the vocabulary used in Belgium.[6] Examples include beenhouwer (Brabantian) and slager (Hollandic), both meaning butcher; and schoon (Brabantian) vs. mooi (Hollandic) "beautiful". The changes (isoglosses) from northern to southern Dutch dialects are gradual, both vocabulary-wise and phonetically, and the boundaries do not coincide with territorial borders.

In 2009 a Dutch dictionary was published that for the first time distinguished between the two natiolectic varieties "Nederlands Nederlands" (or "Netherlandish Dutch") and "Vlaams Nederlands" ("Flemish Dutch") and treated both variations as equally correct. The selection of the "Flemish Dutch" words was based on the Referentiebestand Belgisch Nederlands (RBBN): an electronic database built under the supervision of Prof. Dr. W. Martin (Free University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands) and Prof. Dr. W. Smedts (Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium).

Professor Willy Martin, one of the Flemish editors, claimed that the latter expressions are "just as correct" as the former. This formed a break with the previous lexicologists' custom to comment on a Flemish word that it is mainly used in Flanders, while the specific Dutch use of its Dutch equivalent remained unmentioned. Thus it appeared that the Flemish word was somehow an aberration of the Dutch.

In the Dutch language , around 3,500 words exist which are generally and typically considered Flemish, and 4,500 words considered Dutch.

Dutch dialects in Belgium

There are four principal Dutch dialects in Flanders: Brabantian, Limburgish, East Flemish, and West Flemish. Linguistically however, Flemish is used as a general term encompassing both East Flemish and West Flemish. Despite the name, Brabantian is the dominant contributor to the tussentaal. Both uses of the term derive from the name of the historically most powerful county in the area, the County of Flanders.

 

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