Languages in Belgium
Leuven Travel Blog› entry 72 of 78 › view all entries
May 26th, 2009 – by: Adrian_Liston
Keeping in theme, I thought I would make a quick post on the languages of Belgium.
There are three official languages, Flemish, French and German. Flanders recognises four dialects of Flemish, Brabantian, Limburgish, East Flemish and West Flemish. Belgian French is a dialect of French, but standard French is very common in Brussels. Among native speakers Flemish is the most common, however including both native and non-native speakers French is the most common. German is a clear third in each case.
Flemish - 6.23 million native speakers (plus ~800,000 Walloons who speak Dutch as a second language)
French - 4.19 million native speakers (plus ~4 million Flemings who speak French as a second language)
German - 73,000 (plus ~ 1 million Belgians who speak German as a second language)
In addition, Walloon (~600,000 speakers), Picard, Gaumais, Champenois and German Frankish have all been given official recognition as regional languages. There is also a strong Yiddish-speaking population (~20,000) in Antwerp. Brussels is much more mixed, with 56% of the 1 million Brussels residents not born in Belgium, creating large populations of Arabic, Spanish, Turkish, Portuguese and Italian speakers.
Finally there is English. Very few native speakers, but there are ~7 million Belgians who speak it as a second language. For Belgians under 25, English is nearly as common as Flemish or French. For Belgians under 15, English is actually more common than either Flemish or French, as both Flanders and Walloon shift towards teaching English as the second language.
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