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Differances between Dutch and Flemish

Hoi iedereen !

I was wandering, how similar is Flemish to Dutch ? Can a Dutch speaker speak freely to a Flemish speaker ?

Bedankt ! :D

December 18, 2014



I'll have a shot at answering this as a Dutchie. Flemish speakers, feel free to correct me if you think I'm wrong:)

First of all, keep in mind that Standard Dutch is the official language of Flanders and so you can hear Standard Dutch on the news, see it being used in newspapers and so forth. Flemish people will therefore be familiar with Standard Dutch and it has never happened to me that I couldn't freely converse with any Flemish speaker. Still, it's easy to recognize you are watching the Flemish news or reading a Flemish newspapers because of the accent and/or slightly different vocabulary (this is where the comparison between American and British English comes in).

Then there are many local dialects, just like in The Netherlands, some of which I find really difficult to understand (West-Vlaams and Limburgs in particular). It's my impression that not many people speak pure dialect any longer. Instead most people speak what is called ''tussentaal'', it's not really a dialect and it's not Standard Dutch. It's not a standardized variety of Dutch and it differs a little depending on which region you are in but it is this variety that I would call "Flemish''. It's still very similar to Dutch but there are some important differences in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. Not to the point that it's complete gibberish but I remember it took me some getting used to to understand well. It's too different for me to be able to speak it though, I don't get further than a really bad impression of it.


I am a Dutch speaker from the Flemish part and I agree with this comment. We are very lazy when it comes to talking and we use some words that are not in use in the Netherlands. The real dialects are however, diminishing. Our parents/grandparents/grand grandparents tried to teach us proper 'Algemeen Nederlands' or Dutch at a certain point when they found out that speaking proper Dutch gives you a higher status. However, due to their dialect, most of them were not really able to do so, although they tried. So for that reason, we and our parents picked up some 'wrong' words and started to use them in regular conversations between friends. And that's why this 'tussentaal' came into existence.

But to be honest, for me it is very easy to understand Dutch people speaking. They speak very clear and I noticed for foreign people who want to learn Dutch, it is easier to learn from people from the Netherlands, because of their 'clearer' sounds. But before you start thinking we can't speak proper Dutch, that is of course not true. When we write, we write in proper Dutch and when we do an effort to speak proper Dutch, we can do it. But like I said in the beginning, between friends, colleagues, etc. we are just too lazy, haha


Flemish is the Dutch dialect spoken in the Flanders region of northern Belgium. It's like comparing British and American English :)


I am an American living in Flanders. I've been learning Dutch on duolingo so I can communicate here (so I'm a beginner, but on my second-to-last lesson so I've been practicing a lot!). Although duolingo has been super helpful for improving my vocabulary and my reading, I have a lot of trouble understanding people as the accent is so different. There are definitely pretty significant differences in the pronunciation of 'g', and 'ij'. For example, from duolingo, I thought "wijn" was basically pronounced "wine", but in fact it is pronounced more like "wen" here. Just to give you a heads up!

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