Why the '(Netherlands)' modifier?
Is it implying that Flemish will be a separate course?
Duolingo is not against having a Flemish course in the future. It is assumed that when the incubator is made publically available, such a course will be made and this course can then be used as a template.
Saying that a Flemish course is planned is going a bit too far. We personally do not know about Duolingo's plans and nothing's really definite, ever. :)
However, we've only seen a positive disposition from the Duolingo staff, from the get go, concerning the creation of a future Flemish course.
I've previously explained that the reason why we need this modifier is because it is helpful in dealing with reports and determining which one of the translations is the best translation. This is because while much of the grammar between the two language areas, the North (the Netherlands) and the South (Belgium) is similar (it is not identical, mind you, which is exactly why we have a language union, to standardize our Dutch), the expressions and words used in everyday speech differ. It is everyday spoken Dutch from the Northern language area, the Netherlands, that we were instructed to teach. :)
Just curious, what exactly do you mean by "when the incubator is made publicly available"? Is Duolingo planning on letting people use the incubator to create whatever they want without having to apply to be a contributor?
No, I'm sure there'll still be some moderation involved. :)
On October 9th we will introduce the Duolingo Language Incubator, a way for the community to create language courses. With your help, Duolingo will soon be available in every language -- Chinese, Japanese, Russian... maybe even Elvish. All 100% free.
At first, you'll be able to build courses to learn English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese from any other language in the world. And before the end of the year, it will be possible to create courses in all combinations of languages.
Duolingo: for the people, and soon, BY the people.
At some point, the gates to the incubator are going to become less 'thick'. We are still in the experimental stages, but later it should be possible for there to be more language courses being created simultaneously and more freedom on behalf of contributors. This lessened moderation and increased freedom for regular users is what I was referring to with 'publically available' (a public availability of features, in other words).
Just how different are Dutch and Flemish? It is easy for both to communicate with each other?
Let's say that Flemish and Dutch are for at least 95% (approximately) the same. The differences are some usage in words. In Flemish more dialect and French words are used than in Dutch and there are some differences in pronunciation is well. (I am Flemish)
Example of a typical Flemish sentence: "Ge hebt een grote bakkes" In Dutch: "Je hebt een grote mond" In English: "You have a big mouth"
This is just an example and not all Flemish people use the word "bakkes" because it is dialect word.
Conclusion: Flemish and Dutch people understand each other very well, except for some words.
They are not that different, there are mainly some differences in pronunciation (accent, stress, some sounds like 'g', 'r', 'ij', ...) and some different word choices. The grammar is the same and we can understand each other without much problems.
It's possible that a Dutch (Flanders/Belgium) course will be made. One person stated that they applied. It's even possible (not likely, but possible) for a Dutch (Suriname) course to be added. Although I highly doubt it will, it would be neat, seeing as how it's influenced by Sranan Tongo and other English, Dutch, and Portuguese creoles.