Flemish? Dutch? Looking for a consensus...

Dec 7, 2010
5,507
0
0
Flemish vs Dutch.

This same topic keeps popping up in different threads but never seems to get fully resolved. Anyone willing to follow these first two links will understand.

DirtyWorks said:
These are easy questions for some, but I'm a sheltered Yankee...
What language are these guys speaking? Flemish? Dutch?
ergmonkey said:
Why not just watch the Flemish internet stream of EVERY bike race on the calendar?
ingsve said:
Some of the belgian names are added under the language flemish on the site but should they instead be added simply under dutch?
First off, I’m hoping the Dutch mods will weigh-in heavily on this thread because it seems to be a point of contention for many. Can we keep this to a civil and informative discussion?

I feel this is a worthy topic on its own, but for cyclists it has another important factor considering that so much of our sport’s history, lore and mythology is inextricable tied to Belgium and, in particular, Flanders.
(Just did a Google Maps search on Flanders. It pointed me to Hillside Ave...in Flanders, New Jersey! :rolleyes:)

Some people say the two “languages” are the same, others say they are different. Either way, I find the language of the Belgian broadcasters to be fascinating as well as highly entertaining (in the most respectful way). But the more I research this, the more confused I become.

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.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flemish#Dutch_dialects_in_Belgium
:confused: Honestly, that doesn’t really help me much.

Dialect or language. If Flemish and Dutch are the same (as I'm told) then can someone please explain this to me?
The differences between Dutch and Flemish are significant enough that it is customary for Flemish television shows to be subtitled in Dutch, and vice versa.
It would be great if people could post different videos (race reports or other) with examples to demonstrate any differences as a reference.

Oh, and don’t bother arguing with me. Argue with each other, if at all. I don’t have a leg to stand on in this “debate” because I haven’t the slightest clue as to the proper answer. I just love languages (but I’m already a bit sad because from everything I’ve read on the topic, I’m not convinced that this issue can be sorted out at all).

Note to Mods:
If changing the title of this thread or any part of my OP will lessen the chance of debate being focused on my wording, then by all means, have at it!
:)
 
Apr 12, 2009
2,364
0
0
First of all: don't listen to what echoes will say about this, he has a strange historical definition about 'flemish', that doesn't match the current situation.

To be clear: in Flanders and the Netherlands, we all have the same language (officially). When written there is no difference (except for some words that differ regional).

When spoken, there are hundreds of dialects, spread over Flanders and the Netherlands. Dialect in the nord of the Netherlands is totally different from that in the South, people in the east of Flanders have difficulties understanding the people from the west (when speaking dialect).

But there does exist a bit (not 100%) of a consensus language in Flanders, in between all the dialects (tussentaal), and it's about the same for the Netherlands. Flemish is no official language, it's a tussentaal (literally:an in-between language -> between dialects and official language).
For example: when you hear someone say 'Jhonny Hoogerland', it's easy to say if he's a Belgian or a Dutch.

When we speak AN (=Algemeen Nederlands = General Ducht) we have no problem understanding each other, though accents will be different depending of were you live. When we speak strict dialect (which is slowly disappearing btw) we'll have much harder understanding.

I don't really understand where all the confusion comes from, because i think it's quite similar with British and American English. (I don't think a Texan understands Cockney, but they can both communicate through normal English)
 
Allow me to cite from article four of the Belgian Constitution:
België omvat vier taalgebieden : het Nederlandse taalgebied, het Franse taalgebied [...]
Translated that says: "Belgium comprises four linguistic regions: the Dutch-speaking region, the French-speaking region, etc.

If Belgians want to call what they speak Flemish for whatever reason then its fine by me... But that doesn't make it a distinct language. There are virtually no grammatical differences between 'Flemish' and Dutch.

Whenever I comment on the Flemish v Dutch thing its usually to bait a slightly over-eager Flamand who has become too excited by a Tom Boonen victory, or something like that.
 
I haven't met any Belgians who think Flemish is a separate language from Dutch.

edit: since Flemish is a pretty recognizable dialect and there are clear phonetic differences, I'd say it's perfectly rational to categorize Flemish names in that database as "Flemish" rather than "Dutch", but of course you could then rationally split those names categorized as "Dutch" into countless dialects.
 
Apr 13, 2010
1,238
0
0
Wow, even I learnt something from these few posts - very interesting.

I did think there was both a written and spoken difference - as in different words are used. A bit like Afrikaans to Dutch. Or maybe even how Scandinavians can (often) understand each other although they are three separate languages.

I remember being on holiday once and there was a film crew doing, what I learnt was apparently a very popular tv series. It sounded Dutch, but not completely, and I asked. Very kindly I was explained that, no, it wasn't Dutch it was Flemish. Since I, a complete outsider with only the most superficial understanding of Dutch, could actually hear that something was amiss with this "Dutch" I heard, I've been happy to believe they were actual different languages more than "merely" dialects.

Thanks for this :)
 
Jun 16, 2009
19,657
1
0
I have always though it was just the Belgian dialect of Dutch. But when you closely look at the definition of dialect I am not sure it covers all bases.

1. regional variety of language: a regional variety of a language, with differences in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation


Supposedly pronunciation is different but is there any different vocabulary or grammar to flemish?

Would be interesting to have some people from Belgian and the netherlands to weigh in on the discussion.
 
auscyclefan94 said:
I have always though it was just the Belgian dialect of Dutch. But when you closely look at the definition of dialect I am not sure it covers all bases.

1. regional variety of language: a regional variety of a language, with differences in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation


Supposedly pronunciation is different but is there any different vocabulary or grammar to flemish?


Would be interesting to have some people from Belgian and the netherlands to weigh in on the discussion.
Pronounciations can differ between certain words between Dutch and Flemish, but that happens in every language. Someone from Mississippi pronounces English differently than someone from Belfast, Tunbridge Wells, or Melbourne. However, they certainly don't speak a different language, and in the case of those four ways of speaking English, I doubt anyone would even suggest they speak a different dialect.

And as I have said above, grammatically Dutch and 'Flemish' are identical.
 
Apr 12, 2009
2,364
0
0
Like I said: compare it with British and American English.
Some words are different, but only a few. Words are pronounced with a different accent (even in the 'official language' which is called Dutch, or General Dutch), grammatically, there's no difference, but there do exist hundreds of different dialects in Flanders and the Netherlands.
 
Jun 16, 2009
19,657
1
0
Moondance said:
Pronounciations can differ between certain words between Dutch and Flemish, but that happens in every language. Someone from Mississippi pronounces English differently than someone from Belfast, Tunbridge Wells, or Melbourne. However, they certainly don't speak a different language, and in the case of those four ways of speaking English, I doubt anyone would even suggest they speak a different dialect.

And as I have said above, grammatically Dutch and 'Flemish' are identical.
I know, that's exactly what I was saying. It only fits one out of three parts of the criteria.
 
i find this all fascinating, but... whilst Flemish is not technically a language, my experience here is quite different as far as what people think.

i am trying to learn Dutch (and failing miserably, i might add) and so always try to learn new words, expressions, etc., from acquaintances and/or old timers i meet in a bar. to the one, they insist they don't speak Dutch! they even turn their noses up a little at the idea that they speak Flemish. they insist their language is their own...

i'm in Gent (Ghent) by the way.

the more i ask for help in learning/speaking the language, the further i seem to get from it...

(even worse, when i'm not thinking, French comes out of my mouth :eek:)
 
thirteen said:
i am trying to learn Dutch (and failing miserably, i might add) and so always try to learn new words, expressions, etc., from acquaintances and/or old timers i meet in a bar. to the one, they insist they don't speak Dutch! they even turn their noses up a little at the idea that they speak Flemish. they insist their language is their own...
This sounds more like a curmudgeonly reaction to the "other".

There's a pub down the road from my office, completely from a different century the place is, and one day I went at lunchtime with a colleague, happy to be invited for a "cultural experience". I should have gotten out of there as soon as I realised the pub didn't actually do any food.

The grumpy fellow who ran the place spoke the old Brussels dialect and it was close to impossible to follow it, especially with a global moustache covering his lips.

Anyway before I knew it I'd had six beers and I was trashed. I had to conduct an afternoon meeting whilst plainly being dead drunk.

thirteen said:
(even worse, when i'm not thinking, French comes out of my mouth :eek:)
Yes, that happens to me all the time! :)
 
Dec 7, 2010
5,507
0
0
L'arriviste said:
The grumpy fellow who ran the place spoke the old Brussels dialect and it was close to impossible to follow it, especially with a global moustache covering his lips.

Anyway before I knew it I'd had six beers and I was trashed.
I bet you could understand him then! :D

Btw, great posts so far everyone.
Keep the stories comin'!
 
Apr 12, 2009
2,364
0
0
Dutch speaking Belgians will say they don't speak 'Hollandish' (Hollands), they mostly won't say they don't speak dutch (Nederlands).
Ofcourse they will say they are not dutch.

Hollands is what flemish people call all the dutch dialects from the Netherlands, real dutch people will say that is not true.
 
Different dialects of the same language have been spoken all over the Benelux area for a long time; a group of those dialects have standardised, but a few of those dialects were outside of the area.

Maybe similar to Schwyzertüütsch to New High German; only the Flemish dialects aren't usually as radically different from standard Nederlands as that (or Low German, which is protected as an EU minority language entirely separate to the German standard language).

It is the view of many linguists that the entire Germanic area on mainland Europe is a dialect continuum, with (maybe even Frisian blending into...) Dutch blending into Low German blending into High German blending into Schwyzertüütsch and Austro-Bavarian; a Dutchman from Limburg and a German from just across the border could speak in their local dialects and be close to mutually intelligible; they could then switch to their standard languages and confuse one another. This is not to say that Dutch or Flemish are variations of German, however, which is what some of the theory's detractors have criticised; Dutch standardised in the Netherlands while German was still an unruly mess of dialects and has grown entirely separately from its eastern neighbour.

This view is not universal, however, so feel free to disagree - it is a theory, but quite a common one.
 
May 6, 2009
8,524
1
0
As stupid as this may sound, why is it called Low German if the dialect is based in northern Germany (as far as I understand)?
 
It's the lower land if you take altitude into account, and then there's the Roman way of using Upper and Lower to distinguish their provinces: I imagine it has something to do with rivers and being upstream or downstream.
 
Low German is in the North because it's on the Lower Rhine (and yes, the Roman way of using it comes into it).

The Netherlands are so called because it literally means "low lands"; the region in which Low German is or was spoken is mostly what is now called Niedersachsen, or Low Saxony (the northernmost Saxons of course sailed west with the Angles and Jutes), along with Schleswig-Holstein, where the border between West Germanic (German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, Frisian, Yiddish, Low German) and North Germanic (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian Bokmål/Riksmål/Nynorsk, Faroese and Icelandic) lies.
 
Another thing to keep in mind is that our current convention of using north as up is not universal. The old egyptian dynasties for example had the conventin of south being up since the Nile originated in the south and ran north so they saw hte Nile as running from up to down hence the convention was reversed.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY