ELL: Flemish (was: Wall Street Journal editorial)

Niels Wijnen niels at KOEKOEK.CJB.NET
Sun Mar 31 16:13:03 UTC 2002

> There's a great misunderstanding about Flemish amongst foreigners:
> Flemish is NOT a language, it's not even regarded as such in Flanders,

Well, I am flemish. And here is a huge discussion if Flemish is a language or
not (if you understand Dutch (or Flemish): look at
at the bottom under 'opiniebijdragen'). Some say it is, others say it isn't.
Flemish has OFFICIALY the same dictionary and grammar as the standard Dutch.
But there are quite a few things that are used everywhere in Flanders, above
the many local Flemish dialects, but not in the Netherlands. The last years the
gap between the 'languages' spoken in the Netherlands and in Flanders has grown.

Note that Flemish words and expressions do exist in the dictionary. Those are
marked with ZN (Zuid-Nederlands) which means Southern Dutch (the Dutch spoken
in the Southern part of the Dutch language area = Flemish). Those
words/expressions (and there are quite a lot of them) you can't use in the
Netherlands, but in Flanders it is no problem. You can even use them in
official texts.

If Flemish a language? There always will be a discussion. But certain is that
Flemish is not the same as standard Dutch. As a last example I can give the
literature. Dutch and Flemish books are readable and are read by both the Dutch
and the Flemish people. But there is certainly a difference. A difference in
style, in usage of words. And the difference goes beyond the regional
differences of dialects.


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