The label "Flemish" for the variants of Dutch spoken in Belgium is today generally deprecated. The official languages of the country (under article 4 of the constitution) are Dutch, French and German. The use of the description "Flemish" (particularly by francophones or people from the Netherlands) is generally taken to mean that the speaker is trying to imply that they speak badly or "just a dialect, not a proper language".

The range of Dutch spoken in Flanders and Brussels is quite wide; the geographical distribution is pretty much on a continuum across the border between Belgium and the Netherlands, where the forms of speech in Zeeuwsvlaanderen and Limburg are equally far from the "standard" language (i.e. the dialect of the Randstad), to say nothing of Frisian, which has officially been granted full "language" status. It is broadly impossible to isolate any particular linguistic forms as being used throughout Flanders which are not also in use in various parts of the Netherlands, other than in quite restricted domains, particularly legal and bureaucratic language which has perforce developed in tandem with French, because of the need for unnaturally close equivalence between terms in a single legal and administrative system that operates in both languages. Broadly speaking, the degree of difference between the Dutch spoken in Belgium and in the Netherlands is somewhat less than that between British and American English; the problems of mutual intelligibility are nowhere near as bad, even if Dutch TV feels it has to subtitle anybody who comes from more than 15 km away from Hilversum.

The use of the word as a generic adjective to describe things from Flanders has no such loaded connotations and can be used with reasonable security.

A common misconception is that people tend to think Flemish as a separate language. It is in fact not a language, it’s really not even a dialect. In Belgium three languages are spoken (the three official languages of Belgium): in the southern part people speak French, a small part of eastern Belgium speaks German and the northern part of Belgium speaks Dutch or Flemish as some people like to believe.

So the northern part of Belgium is called Flanders. While Flemish is actually Dutch, as it is spoken in Holland (the Netherlands) with only a small difference in accent. Flanders is divided in provinces, we have: Antwerp, Limburg, Flemish-Brabant, West-Flanders and East-Flanders (In Dutch: Antwerpen, Limburg, Vlaams-Brabant, West-Vlaanderen and Oost-Vlaanderen).

Every person in a province speaks a different dialect of the Dutch language, compared to the other provinces.

In Antwerp for example the difference between the dialect and the actual Dutch language is minimum and a difference can barely be noted. In Limburg people are known for the melodious voices, (But still difference is minimum). Now East-and West-Flanders are known for their dialects because (especially West-Flemish people) of the incredibly strong accent. If someone from West-or East-Flanders is interviewed on T.V, subtitles are always required in order for the other inhabitants of Flanders to view the show. This variant is not a separate language. It is merely a difference in accent. And if Dutch people listen carefully all words can be comprehended, even though some things are hard to comprehend even for inhabitants of West-Flanders (in which the dialect is strongest). Singer Flip Kowlier for example, who was a hit among Flanders’ youngsters, was incredibly hard to understand, even for inhabitants of West-Flanders.

Although the dialects in Flanders are different from the main Dutch language, it is a mistake to think it a separate language. And so the language Flemish does not really exist. Even some people in Flanders call it Flemish, they are wrong. :)

Inhabitants of Flanders are called Flemish people though.

Flem"ish (?), a.

Pertaining to Flanders, or the Flemings.



The language or dialect spoken by the Flemings; also, collectively, the people of Flanders.

Flemish accounts Naut., short or deficient accounts. [Humorous]Ham. Nav. Encyc. -- Flemish beauty Bot., a well known pear. It is one of few kinds which have a red color on one side. -- Flemish bond. Arch. See Bond, n., 8. -- Flemish brick, a hard yellow paving brick. -- Flemish coil, a flat coil of rope with the end in the center and the turns lying against, without riding over, each other. -- Flemish eye Naut., an eye formed at the end of a rope by dividing the strands and lying them over each other. -- Flemish horse Naut., an additional footrope at the end of a yard.


© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.