Dutch or Flemish? What you need to know

Published on 25/09/2023

Do you want to translate a text and don't know whether to choose Dutch or Flemish? This is normal, as they are two variations of the same language, and in order to be able to decide, it is necessary to have in-depth knowledge of their differences.

Dutch in the Netherlands and Belgium

Dutch is a language spoken in the Netherlands and Belgium and its vocabulary is influenced by other languages such as French, English, Latin and German. 

It originates from the north of the Netherlands, where Dutch was spoken. During the Middle Ages, a process of standardisation was carried out, leading to modern Dutch.

The language has two grammatical genders, masculine and feminine, and different tenses and verb forms. It also uses diphthongs, double letters or letter combinations that may be unfamiliar to other languages.

Flemish in Flanders (Belgium)

Flemish, on the other hand, is a variant of Dutch that is spoken in the region of Flanders (Belgium) and is one of the official languages alongside German and French. 

It originated in the Middle Ages in the region of Flanders under the linguistic and cultural influences that lived there, becoming a variant of the language.

Although Italy and the Netherlands had many cultural and commercial relations during the Renaissance period, they had little influence on the language. However, they have some similarities in vocabulary as certain Italian terms have been adopted in Dutch.

In the case of Portuguese, although they are sister languages because they belong to the same linguistic family and have common roots, it is very different to Dutch in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.

Differences between Dutch and Flemish

Although both have similar grammar, Flemish has certain differences that you should know about if you are thinking of hiring a translation agency:

  1. Pronunciation: Flemish pronunciation has a more open accent that can sometimes seem difficult to understand and is more distinctive sounding than Dutch. 
  2. Words: Although they are very similar, Flemish has some words that are different from Dutch because it has and applies a French and Latin origin. In contrast to Dutch, which has a higher usage of German origin.
  3. Grammar: In Flemish the word structure is more complex and can give the impression that the text is more detailed. There are also more irregular verbs than in Dutch.
  4. Dialects: In contrast to Dutch, Flemish has a large number of regional expressions that can be difficult to understand if you are not familiar with them.
  5. Spelling: In Flemish there are certain combinations or letters that do not exist in Dutch. In order to understand this, it is important to know these rules before hiring a translation company so as not to think that the text is badly translated.

Which option to choose according to needs

Whether you choose Dutch or Flemish translation depends on your needs. If you are targeting a Dutch audience, it is best to ask for a translation into Dutch, which is the official language of the country. However, if your text is addressed to a Belgian audience, the best option is to ask for a Flemish translation as this is the variation used in the Flemish region and is well known in Belgium.

The important thing is to have your text translated by a company that handles both languages and can give you a range of possibilities for your translations, ensuring that the results they deliver are of the quality you deserve.

AbroadLink, a professional multilingual translation company, has a large team of professionals with extensive knowledge of both Dutch and Flemish, as well as other languages, to ensure a perfect translation of all texts for its clients.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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