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Dutch Courage

I am an English university Spanish studies student, currently on my third year abroad, studying in Girona and soon-to-be Granada.

I was au pairing this summer in Madrid when I decided to book a spontaneous day trip to Amsterdam (never had been before, and the only thing I could say was 'Ik ben een vrouw'), and so in August I went by myself very very early in the morning to Amsterdam, explored the city, and made it back home before midnight. It was an amazing mini-experience for me, and I fell in love with the city and the language (although, I could not speak very much at all).

Now, I am learning Dutch through duolingo and also a book entitled Dutch in Three Months, despite previously being apprehensive about starting a new language at 21, after having done plenty of studying into how children are the perfect age for mastering a new language. However, I have the determination and passion that I believe that this will not be an impossible task, but will simply require dedication which I am willing to put in.

Skipping forward a few months, I am now at the point of planning and writing my dissertation (or, thesis), that I would never have previously considered if it wasn't for my trip nor for the continuation of learning Dutch on duolingo (which I was very excited about when it was released). After emerging myself in the language learning, my head is firmly planted in lots and lots of books regarding bilingualism as I am focussing on elements of the Dutch language in Belgium, or, as it is known there, Flemish.

For those of you Dutch native speakers, living in either The Netherlands or Belgium, I would be very grateful for opinions on the Dutch/Flemish relation, attitudes across Belgians (whether you speak Dutch, French or German!) and any interesting comparisons, relations or experiences in the language situations throughout Belgium, including in the bilingual Brussels Capital-region and beyond. I also welcome fun expressions, phrases and idioms in either Dutch or Flemish to keep my spirits high throughout the process :)

Dank je! :)

Ik drink de melk.

October 22, 2014



My opinion on Belgium is that they should fix their terrible highways, because I need to use those to get to sunny, beautiful France!

I kid, I kid (mostly). Usually I get along very well with the Flemish. It's true that we like to make jokes about each other: Belgians are always portrayed as unintelligent in Dutch jokes, whereas they consider the Dutch as greedy bastards. It's a tradition! Still, when I was living in North America, it was always a pleasure to meet Flemish people and have a chat in my native language.

The Flemish are very proud of their language, far more so than the Dutch. This is completely understandable, considering all the tension between the languages in Belgium. As a result, they really like spelling bees and often they win the annual "Groot Dictee der Nederlandse Taal". They also refuse to use loanwords, or if they do use them, they tend to pronounce them as if they were Dutch (while in the Netherlands we keep the original pronunciation).

The Dutch Duolingo team has some mixed feelings about this. Flemish people who are checking our course for mistakes, are often cluttering up our reports with Flemishisms (which we don't accept). "Lopen" instead of "rennen", "kleed" instead of "jurk" and several others like that. Our stance is that the languages (dialects, whatever you want to call them) are different enough that we don't want to mix them up when teaching people Dutch. That is why we have the (Netherlands) qualifier in the name of the course.

I sincerely apologize if I offended anyone with my broad sweeping generalizations!


Ooo thank you so much, I really enjoyed reading this :)


I think I saw someone on this site who said they were 90! And I tutor English to adults, and have people in their 60s and 70s (I'm learning Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese through Spanish, and I'm 63.) Have fun with your languages, you can pick up new ones throughout your life.


The Dutch/Flemish relation is very good! Okay, we love to joke about each other and copy each other's accent :) But in general, Flanders and the Netherlands like each other quite much :) Have you ever watched the Eurovision Song Contest? The Netherlands always get quite high points from Belgium, and opposite too :p

PS. I'm Flemish :)


Ahh thankyou! That a really interesting point you make that I obviously wouldn't read about in library books regarding the joking and especially the Eurovision Song Contest.. normally I am too busy seeing if Ireland give the UK high points ;) I will watch closely next year though!


Although in the past the relationship between the two countries has not always been so good, for example when the Netherlands attacked Belgium although this was a long time ago.

P.S I cannot remember my history around this area so much but i know there was a war between the Netherlands and Belgium. I apologize if i have any of the facts wrong e.g i do not know for sure i the Netherlands attacked Belgium or vice versa.


I live close to the belgian border in Brabant and on sundays lots of belgians come shopping in the Netherlands (as their stores are closed). The experience I had is that the relationships are good. As said earlier they should put some more work in their roads :P, but on the other hand they have great food and beer.

There are also large cultural differences in attitudes in both countries (these differences already start occuring below the river rhine in the Netherlands). Dutch people tend to value honesty and allowing everyone to have their say. Belgians tend to think it is more important to prevent arguments from escalating and they value hierarchy more.

A funny thing which I noticed is that people in Holland have trouble understanding Belgians and often confuse their accent with accents of the southern Netherlands.


I am not a dutch speaker myself but when i went to Holland almost everyone spoke English, is this normal in Holland or was it just the area?

[deactivated user]

    The Dutch receive English classes in high-school and unlike the Germans and French they do not dub their movies nor translate IT terminology into their own language which has helped speed up acceptance.

    Older generations might not speak English, though.


    Everyone in the Netherlands speaks English. I'm sorry, we can't help it. Learning languages is in our nature ;)


    Can I sign up for Dutch and Spanish in Duolingo? I speak English and want to learn both daily.


    A really funny flemish expression that I recently heard being used by a popular Belgian comedian (I forgot his name) is "scheefpoepen" (lit. slant pooping). It means to cheat in marriage. In the Netherlands we use "naast de pot pissen" (lit. pissing next to the pot) instead.

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