Flemish Language
What is Flemish? | So, why is it called Flemish? | A little history...

Flemish is the commonly used name for Dutch as it is spoken and written in Flanders, the Northern, Dutch speaking part of Belgium. The relationship between Dutch as used in the Netherlands and Dutch as used in Flanders can best be compared to that between the English that is used in England and the English that is used in America (or any other part of the world where English is the first language).

Sign in a shop window: 'Tele-market researchers wanted; Flemish, Dutch, Belgian. Up to 8 pounds per hour'.
Misunderstandings do happen!

This means that the pronunciation is very noticeably different: the Dutch pronounce the letter ‘g’ with a rather harsh gliding sound in the throat, while the Flemish produce a much softer sound. There are differences in vocabulary: the Americans call a lorry a truck, and the Flemish usually call a ‘vrachtwagen’ a ‘camion’. And in some minor instances there are differences in grammar, especially in the order of verbs at the end of sentences. The spelling, mercifully, is exactly the same.

To all intents and purposes, Flemish and Dutch are the same language. We read each other’s books and watch each other’s television programmes. Especially in written language, there are very few differences, and it is perfectly legitimate to use a fairly formal text that has been prepared for the Netherlands in Belgium and vice versa (except where there are factual or institutional differences, of course).

When you are dealing with colloquial texts, like interviews for popular magazines or drama scripts, the situation is rather different. Many different words and expressions are used. The expression ‘I’m pissed’, for example, also means something very different in America than in England. In this case it is a good idea to have your text checked and, if necessary, amended by a professional who is familiar with both versions of the language.

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dutch & flemish language services
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