Common misconceptions about Dutch

Amsterdam Travel Blog

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Feel free to skip this message it will be just a little rant. Wherever I go people seem to assume that everybody in Belgium speaks either French or "Belgian" or, in the very rare best case scenario also "Flemish" which is supposed to be something completely different than Dutch. Now of course I understand that the Benelux countries are small and I wouldn't know the details of such small countries if they were on the other side of the globe, but I've heard these reactions from people living within literally walking distance from Belgium. This week somebody from Lille (20 km from where I live) asked wether "flemish" was a "german dialect." I mean come on, I don't live near Switzerland, but I do know they speak German, French and a little Italian and Romansh there... is that so unusual? So just for the record:

-Belgium has 3 official languages: Dutch (not flemish!), French and German spoken by around 60%, 40% and <1%

-The Netherlands has 1 main official language: Dutch (with Frisian co-official in the north)

-The Dutch spoken in The Netherlands, Belgium, Surniname and the Netherlands Antilles (South America) is all the same and speakers can understand each other without any problems. There are differences in accents however, just like there are in English. There are zero spelling differences.

-Afrikaans, a language spoken in South-Afrika and Namibia is similar to Dutch but ISN'T Dutch. Though mutually intelligible with Dutch it is a separate language

-Flemish is often used in the meaning of "dutch as spoken by belgians" however linguistically this makes very little sense, the differences in the dutch dialects actually run horizontal from east to west, rather than changing from north to south over the Dutch-Belgian border. For example The dialect from the NL province of Zeeland is close to West-Flemish (BE) and East-Flemish (BE). The Dialect from Vlaams-Brabant and Antwerp (BE) is very similar to the one from Noord Brabant (NL) and of course both the Belgian and Dutch province of Limburg have very similar accents. In other words all dialects in Flanders are more similar to their Northern neighbour in the Netherlands than to the other "Flemish" dialects.
(that was a bit confusing, if you can't follow anymore, not sure I can either ;-)

-Holland is not the same as the Netherlands, but a region comprising the provinces Noord & Zuid-Holland

Sorry for the rant, I promise it won't happen again ;)
moshers_moll says:
....and relax! Do you feel better for getting that off your chest? hahaha. Couldn't agree with you more, does you good to have a little rant once in a while :-)
Posted on: May 14, 2009
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