NL Dutch vs Flemish Accents
Hello! I understand that the official line is that they are (mostly) both the same language. However, I get the impression that orally, the dutch spoken in the Netherlands sounds closer to English and that natural speakers of that variant can speak English better, whereas the Belgian variant (Flemish) sounds slightly further from English, at least when orally spoken. In fact, I get the sense that when French and Flemish signs are posted side-by-side, the latter is influenced more by the former.
POINT: Am I correct in the observation that NL Dutch sounds more English-influenced whilst Flemish is more French-influenced?
Flemish is definitely more French influenced, but I doubt there's a clear influence of English on Dutch pronunciation. It might be closer to English, but I think that's more due to the lack of influence from a Romance language than due to any direct influence of English.
Am I exaggerating if I say that the Flemish accent is like a French person trying to speak Dutch?
Yes you are. French people have much difficulty to pronounce Dutch words correctly. Nice cultural/historical example: during the “Brugse Metten”, a battle between Flanders and France around the year 1300, the Flemisch used the battle cry “schild en vriend”. This made obvious who the ennely was because the French cannot correctly pronounce “schild” and will say “skild” instead...
Generally the Dutch speak dutch the same way a German would. Neatly seperating each word and pronouncing it as it's written. Flemings on the other hand do speak dutch as a Frenchman would; abbreviating and sticking everything together. Note this only goes for spoken language, not written one.
Let's use an example. EN: "I don't know it".
NL: "Ik weet het niet." => spoken as written
BE: "Ik weet het niet." => spoken as "Kweetetni" Just like in latin languages, flemish dutch flows more easily and quickly.
source: born and raised in Flanders Belgium