Limburgish: an addition for the incubator?

Good evening everyone!

Recently, I've applied for the addition of Limburgish to the incubator. I don't have a response yet, but I'd like to share my idea with the community.

You might wonder what Limburgish is, perhaps you've never heard of it. Limburgish is a regional language of the province of Limburg (Netherlands) which has been recognised by the Dutch government in 1997 (it even has its own Wikipedia!). It is also spoken in the Belgian province with the same name, and a small part of Germany, even though it's not been recognised as a separate language in these countries.

According to Ethnologue, it's spoken by 1.3 million people, so it's not exactly a "big" language like English or Spanish, but according to the UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, it is a vulnerable language. I think creating a course on Duolingo would greatly support its preservation and it can possibly be another fun language to learn as well. It won't be difficult to learn for speakers of Dutch and/or German. With preservation of the language in mind, it would be great to be able to create an English-Limburgish course, and afterwards perhaps a Dutch-Limburgish and German-Limburgish course!

Even though it has lots of similarities with Dutch and German, it is quite an unique language for it's pitch accent system. Using two different accents (the "sjleiptoen", dragging tone and the "sjtoettoen", push tone) we can give different meanings to words. "Bie" with "sjleiptoen" means "at" while "bie" with push tone means "bee". Also, "bein" with "sjleiptoen" means "leg" (singular) while "bein" with "sjtoettoen" means legs (plural)! This can be a fun thing to practice and listen to while following a Limburgish course here on Duolingo!

There are a few different varieties of Limburgish, and the language has not been standardised, but there are some spelling guidelines (see below). If there's a possibility and an interest for the language to join the Duolingo family, then sticking to one variety would be the best option. The dialect of Roermond would be a good example for this, because it's located in the centre of the spoken area and I am sure I can contribute a lot to the course that way.

Here's some further information about it. I am looking forward to hearing your opinions! If you've got any questions, feel free to ask! The more languages, the merrier! Ich wins uch unne gooje aovendj! :)

May 13, 2015


Vinj ich sjiek!

May 13, 2015

I believe that it is possible to teach Limburgish on this website. But it requires some though choices. As said in this thread there are many varieties in a rather small area encompassing three countries. We cannot create a standard, nor can we combine all dialects. What we can do is choose to teach a specific Limburgish. One that allows one to understand the more Dutch-sounding varieties in Venlo and Weert, but also the southern ones and the Belgian and German varieties. But also it has to be a variety which will not make to many people mad. Obviously you can't have the Maastricht variety, because everyone outside of Maastricht will object. Sittard will anger Geleen, and vice versa. Kerkrade, Heerlen and Simpelveld, the general Parkstad area, is technically speaking more a Ripuarian language than a Limburgish one. But they view themselves as Limburgish speakers so they should be considered. Then there is Roermond, which seems like a safer option, but it doens't have many of the uniquer words more southern cities and areas have.

A safe choice would be a smaller variety from an southern Limburgian city with an East Limburgish language profile. They are most mutually intelligible yet also have the most depth and uniqueness in their language. Northern ones are to similar to Dutch, western ones are to similar to East-Flemmish, and south-eastern ones are to similar to Ripuarian.

East Limburgish dialects also cover the most the most speakers. Roughly half off all the speakers of a Limburgian language. The East Limburgish variety is something that can be seen as closest to a standard because of this! This is also the variety which has the most tonality, which is one of the major selling points of the language.

Probably a dialect from Stein or Brunssum (where famous local writer Colla Bemelmans is from) or Valkenburg. Or maybe a more northern East Limburgish variety like Echt or Maasbracht.

But at least that is my take on it.

May 14, 2015

Also, I might also apply to teach.

May 14, 2015

That's a lingot-worthy comment! My only doubt about it is about the Echt/Maasbracht variant. These are very related to the Roermond variant already, perhaps there are some very small differences, but there aren't any spelling rules for those differences which we can follow as far as I know, in contrast to Roermond's dialect. I myself live in Reuver, which is quite related to Roermond's dialect as well, but I think, if we're allowed to create a Limburgish Duolingo course, it's best to stick to the variant of one of the larger cities in the area. Roermond would be the perfect example for the reasons you stated, and there are also some additional spelling rules for it (see the pdf in my first post).

May 14, 2015

You have highlighted it yourself but this is my main issue with adding Limburgs (Limburgish) on Duolingo.

  • There is not 1 standard Limburgs ( The dialect/language in Venlo is different to that in Sittard, which is different to that in Kerkrade, which is different to that in Maastricht.
  • In addition to this Limburgs is not limited to the Netherlands, but also covers parts in Belgium and in Germany. In other words, there are many more variants those that already exist within Dutch Limburg.
  • As you probably know, in addition to the different words that can be used in different places the pronunciation can also be heavily affected by the place that you are in.
  • On top of this it is not uncommon that words are spelled differently etc. depending on the specific region that you are in.

Since there is no standardised Limburgs it is in my opinion near impossible to offer a decent course as it would have to cover a lot of different aspects and regions to do it right. In the end there is a good reason that, in contrast with Frysian, Limburgs is not an official language in the Netherlands. It's not because there are no spelling and grammar rules. It's because there are simply too many variations to really talk of one language.

May 13, 2015

There is not one standard Spanish. The dialect/language in Argentina is different than to that in Costa Rico, which is different to that in Mexico, which is different to that in Spain.

And yet, we have a course on Spanish.

May 13, 2015

Your argument could be applied to pretty much any language that is spoken in more than one country. British vs. American vs Australian English, German vs Austrian vs Switzerland German, French vs Canadian French, Modern Standard vs Egyptian Arabic vs Moroccan Arabic and many more... You usually focus on ONE of the variations and teach that one. Duo's Spanish is pretty weird though, it seems to be some Latin American mix?

However, a language that has no standard at all is pretty hard to teach. It's the same with Ripuarian (which is btw closely related to Limburgish but on the German side of the border). Every single city speaks a different variation and even within the cities, there is no consistent spelling. The languages focus on spoken communication and using them in a written form is often considered problematic even by native speakers.

May 13, 2015

This study identified 8 dialect groups looking at the dialects in 30 places in both the Netherlands and Belgium (so it does not even include the German areas), and even within these groups one can argue that substantial differences can exist.

I can appreciate people wanting to learn other people their dialect (language). But with this many variations, in my opinion, you are asking for trouble.

May 13, 2015

(Sorry, no English version available, I only found German and Dutch)

I think, this helps to explain your point... "Ostbergisch" does not belong to the Limburgish dialects but the other ones do... It feels a bit wrong to see Ripuarian names a Limburgish dialect though u.u

It's a really small area with a high density of different dialects (these are just dialect groups that an differ a lot from city to city)... I think the only way to really learn how to speak correctly would be to move there and absorb the language ^^'

May 13, 2015

Actually, Ripuarisch also isn't a part of the Limburgisch langauge group, but of the Ripuarian languages in Germany.

May 14, 2015

Thanks for your opinions, El2theK and zerozeroone! :)

It's true that there are quite a lot of dialect groups in a relatively small area, but aside from the differences between all of these areas, there are also lots of constants. Someone from Venlo wouldn't have any trouble understanding someone from Maastricht. It won't be an easy task, but I think that, as long as you stick to one dialect it should be possible. Considering the Spanish example, even within Spain, there's a preference for using "vosotros" for "you" (plural) in the majority of the areas while it's "ustedes" in some parts of Andalucía.

However, I do understand the point you're making, El2theK. It's quite difficult...

May 13, 2015

Perhaps most people will be able to understand what another person is saying though the differences in dialect between someone from the North of Limburg and say Kerkrade are big.

The reason why I'm saying that you are looking for trouble is, since there is no standard, in contrast with the Spanish they use in different countries. You are going to end up with people saying: Yeah but in Vaals/Kerkade/Zitterd/Zolder/Luik/Maastricht we say it/spell it like that. Or that the sentence means something completely different. And unless you want to get all these regional dictionaries ( it will be very hard to say no you're wrong about that.

And trust me you can come across a lot of reports saying that the way they say it is more natural, or that your sentence is not correct etc.. And being from Sittard myself if there ever will be a course I can tell you already to make sure you include veier/beier/bloud/goud/neit etc. which use is pretty restricted to this area.

May 13, 2015

Yes, and that is what the report button is for, every accepted variation could be included. No language is written in stone.

May 13, 2015

It's true that there's no standard spanish on everyday usage, but in the media there are two standarizations: Castillian and Latin American. It can be seen in movies dubbings, which are spoken in a way that is nor Puerto Rican, nor Costa Rican, nor Mexican, instead it sounds "neutral", so that everbody likes it . The same applies in Spain I guess

May 15, 2015

With the difference that that applies to countries, not to towns which can use different words being no more than 10km apart.

May 13, 2015

It seems like Duolingo teaches the version of a language with the most contributors/speakers. The Spanish taught on Duolingo is like what I took in school here in the USA, it's like a mix of Latin American dialects.

May 14, 2015

Well if I have a look on wikipedia it doesn't seem to be such a problem.

Today the so-called "Veldeke-spelling" which was first applied in the 1940s is most of the time used to write in a specific Limburgish dialect (...) In 2003 the Limburgish Language Council adopted a standard orthography for Limburgish. On the basis of this standard orthography the Limburgish Academy Foundation (Stiechting Limbörgse Academie) is creating Limburgish-Dutch, Limburgish-English, Dutch-Limburgish and English-Limburgish dictionaries.

Also Limburgish has its own wikipedia, so there should be a way how to create such a course.

It is definitely great idea to have a couple of "small" regional European languages here like Upper Sorbian, Kashubian, Silesian, Crimean Tatar or for example Rusyn. Exactly such projects as creating wikipedia for them or Duolingo can be great tools how to preserve them.

May 13, 2015

Good, no, It's absolutely not a problem if you do not see it as a problem, some people do, others not. Some people see progress, other see problems.

I hope limburg will come, if I remember correct it was Charlemagne's native language, I read limborgish articles all the time on wikipedia, would like to wither my understanding.

May 13, 2015

Thanks for being interested! We already applied to create Crimean Tatar - Ukrainian course. Waiting for Duolingo Team to respond. If everything goes fine, we will apply for Crimean Tatar - English course too.

March 12, 2016

As GMorilloM mentions, Limburgs is an official language in the Netherlands. And I think you have it backwards: precisely because it has official status, standards are being developed that we could follow.

May 14, 2015

It is an official "regional language" (streektaal) and non-standardised ( In a European context it is not uncommon to give a dialect/language that are not standardised and for which a lot of varieties and differences exist an official status of "regional language".

Saying that, giving Limburgs that status has been controversial, for example:

There are no indications that a "standard" Limburgs is being developed or implemented. And if there are any signs of that I am sure it will cause a lot of debate and controversy amongst those that speak Limburgs, as there a lot of people are proud of their dialect and won't accept it when someone else tells them that, based on some newly made up rules, they are wrong.

May 14, 2015

Sounds great! I'd take the course, haven't even heard of this language before but it sounds interesting.

May 14, 2015

Thank you for your enthusiasm! I'd really love spreading knowledge about my mother tongue, comments like yours motivate me even more!

May 15, 2015

Yeah if you could just go ahead and get started on lumberghish, that'd be great.


May 15, 2015

We speak 'Limburgs' at home, but I must admit I suck in writing it.

May 14, 2015

I'm also not the best at writing it, but that's where the spelling guidelines come in handy! :)

May 14, 2015

What happened? How is it different from 'Luxembourgish'? .

July 20, 2017

Hello ClydeHapp! Both are different (but related) languages. Luxembourgish is spoken in Luxembourg, while Limburgish is a recognised regional language in the province of Limburg (Netherlands), and is also spoken in the Belgian province with the same name and some adjacent areas in Germany. Some additional information for comparison:

Hope I've answered your question! :)

July 21, 2017

Thanks. And, a Lingot for your help.

July 21, 2017

Hi. Any progress? My mother spoke some Luxembourgish and was able to converse with my Grandma who came from Romania (in 1899, I think, when she was 6) and spoke her German. Grandpa hailed from Trier, Germany.

Could the discussion about which dialect to choose be settled by using Luxembourgish as the standard? How difficult would it be for the Limburgish speaker to use?

Thanks for your input.

August 13, 2017

That wouldn't work unfortunately since both are different languages. More different than, for example Norwegian and Denmark. I would, on the other hand be very much interested in a Luxembourgisch course. German was very wide spread back then and was sort of the lingua franca in middle Europe and parts of the current Benelux and eastern Europe. Most people spoke a local language, like Luxembourgish, Limburgish, Kölsch, Bavarian etc. and German, but could probably write neither.

August 13, 2017

Thanks BartPeeter, Enjoy a Lingot! (Hmmm, I'm not an emoji-kind of guy, but is there an emoji for, "Enjoy a Lingot!") Cheers

August 14, 2017

I am from Limburg and my parents have always spoken Limburgish at home, I don't speak it myself. I understand it perfectly fine but I think it would be interesting if Duolingo offered the opportunity to learn it. Maybe I could finally learn it, and even read it, which is always a challenge :)

May 26, 2018

Hey Emskie-Wings! That's exactly one of the many advantages I see in having a Limburgish course on Duolingo. Aside of many people in other countries who might want to get a taste of the language, there's also a clear practical use. Whether you're from another part of the country or abroad and moved here, or whether you've been raised in Limburg (but only in Dutch), I guess there are many people who want to learn Limburgish. Hopefully we'll get the chance someday to realise such a course. Ich wins dich 'ne sjoeëne middig! ;)

July 4, 2018

I think it should get a standarized version first before a course can be made, they speak a different variant of it in almost every town.. I'm willing to learn it when it becomes available, though

June 26, 2018

Hello Roos033, thanks for your comment! Yes, the standardisation issue is a bit difficult (as mentioned up here as well). But then from another perspective, having a course based on the Veldeke spelling guidelines might be very useful: if a language is only used orally in formal contexts, there might be no need for a standardised written language (for instance, I can't think of any serious Limburgish courses or learning materials). Comparing this to Frisian: Frisian is taught in schools and therefore there are many written Frisian materials (in a standardised version, even though the Frisians have many different dialects just like in Limburg). Having/creating serious learning materials in Limburgish might be (part of) the impetus to make people conscient that it might be useful to have a standardised Limburgish... In brief, it might also be "the course which helps the language", not just "the language which helps having a course". Just some random thoughts :)

July 4, 2018
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