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West Flemish

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West Flemish

West Flemish
West-Vlams, West-Vloams
Native to Belgium, Netherlands, France
Region West Flanders
Native speakers
1.4 million (1998)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
vls – (West) Vlaams
zea – Zealandic (Zeeuws)
Glottolog vlaa1240  (Vlaams / West Vlaams)[2]
zeeu1238  (Zeeuws)[3]
Linguasphere 52-ACB-ag

West Flemish (Dutch: West-Vlaams, French: flamand occidental, West Flemish: West-Vlams/West-Vloams), "Flemish" in the linguistic sense, is a language spoken in western Belgium and adjoining parts of the Netherlands and France. It is generally considered a dialect of Dutch but is hardly comprehensible to speakers of the Dutch dialects of Antwerp and Amsterdam.[4]

West Flemish is spoken by 1.07 million people in West Flanders (in Belgium), 120,000 in the neighbouring Dutch coastal district of Zeelandic Flanders (and another 220,000 if Zealandic is included), and 10,000 in the northern part of the French département of Nord.[1] Some of the main cities where West Flemish is widely spoken are Bruges, Kortrijk, Ostend, Roeselare, and Ypres. The dialects of the rest of the Dutch province of Zeeland, Zeelandic, are often included in West Flemish; these are part of a dialect continuum which proceeds further north into Hollandic.

West Flemish is listed as a "vulnerable" language in UNESCO's online Red Book of Endangered Languages.[5]

Geographical location of West Flemish (colour: sandy) among the other minority and regional languages and dialects of the Benelux countries
Flemish (green) and French (red/brown) as spoken in the arrondissement of Dunkirk in France, in 1874 and 1972
Bachten de Kupe scenic road sign.


West Flemish phonology differs a lot from the standard Dutch phonology.

  • The (pre-)velar fricatives /x, ɣ/ are realised as glottal [h, ɦ].
  • /ɛi/ is realised as [ɨ].
  • /œy/ is realised as [ʉ].
  • /ʌu/ is realised as [ɯ].
  • /ɛ/ is realised as [æ].

See also

Apartment building in Blankenberge (Belgium) with West Flemish name "Yzeren Rampe" (Iron embankment)


  1. ^ a b (West) Vlaams at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Zealandic (Zeeuws) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ RL Trask, "Number of Languages", in Language and Linguistics: The Key Concepts, 2nd ed. 2007
  5. ^ Archived November 12, 2014 at the Wayback Machine

External links

  • Euromosaic report on West Flemish (thus Dutch) in France

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