Brabantian dialect

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For the British kayaker, see Tim Brabants.
Native to Belgium, Netherlands
Native speakers
(no estimate available)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog brab1242[1]
Linguasphere 52-ACB-ak (varieties:
52-ACB-aka to-akk)

Brabantian or Brabantish, also Brabantic (Dutch: Brabants [ˈbraːbɑnts]), is a dialect group of the Dutch language. It is named after the historical Duchy of Brabant which corresponded mainly to the Dutch province of North Brabant, the Belgian provinces of Antwerp and Flemish Brabant, as well as the institutional Region of Brussels-Capital (where its native speakers have become a minority) and the province of Walloon Brabant. Brabantian expands into small parts in the west of Limburg while its strong influence on the Flemish dialects in East-Flanders weakens towards the west. In a small area in the northwest of North Brabant (Willemstad), Hollandic is spoken. Conventionally, the South Guelderish dialects are distinguished from Brabantian, though there are no objective criteria apart from geography to do this.

Because of the relatively large area in which Brabantian is spoken, it can be roughly divided in three sub-dialects:

  • West Brabantian, spoken in the area west of the river Donge; in the west of North Brabant (the area around the cities Breda, Roosendaal, and Bergen op Zoom) and in the north and west of the Province of Antwerp in Belgium.
  • East Brabantian, spoken in the area east of the river Donge; in the middle and east of North Brabant (the area around the cities Tilburg, Eindhoven, 's-Hertogenbosch and Helmond), the east of the Province of Antwerp and the far west of the Province of Limburg.
  • South Brabantian, spoken in the province of Flemish Brabant and the south of Antwerp.

Brabantian is not a minority language in the Netherlands. Brabantian has compared to other main Dutch dialects had a big influence on the development of Standard Dutch.[citation needed] This was because of Brabant was being the dominant region in the Netherlands when standardization of the Dutch started in the 16th century. The first major formation of standard Dutch also took place in Antwerp, where a Brabantian dialect is spoken. The default language being developed around this time had therefore mainly Brabantian influences. The early modern Dutch written language was initially influenced primarily by Brabantian, with strong influence from Hollandic emerging after the 16th century. Since then, it has diverged from Standard Dutch, evolving in its own way, but is still similar enough for them to be mutually intelligible.[2]

About one third of the Dutch-speaking population lives in the Brabantian dialect zone. In the Netherlands, rural areas have still retained their original Brabantian dialects to a fair degree. In large Dutch cities such as Breda and Eindhoven, where the industrial revolution drew many people from other parts of the country, the dialect has become more "moderated" by language mixture and is generally closer to standard Dutch. Because people tended to migrate towards the cities from the surrounding rural areas as well, Brabantian influence is still seen in certain vocabulary items and in pronunciation (the "Brabantian accent" of Dutch). The original Brabantian city dialects have largely disappeared there[citation needed], however. Nevertheless, some large cities such as Tilburg and 's-Hertogenbosch still have a large number of people speaking the original Brabantian dialect.

In Belgium, dialects are still the common spoken language[citation needed]. It is also still spoken in most large cities, particularly in Antwerp where Antwerpian (a city dialect that is rather distinct from that of the surrounding area) has remained in wide use. In the capital of Brussels, French largely replaced Dutch in the middle of the 20th century. Despite this, there are many cultural activities using the Brussels dialect, and recently also at masses in a church in Jette. Moreover, use of Dutch is reviving due to young Dutch-speaking families moving back from the suburbs toward the old city centre.


The Brabantian dialect is rather close to standard Dutch and was a contributor to its development.[citation needed] Brabantian uses a more palatal pronunciation of /ɣ/ and /x/, termed the "soft G". A characteristic phrase is "Houdoe" (meaning: Take care), from: Houd U goed (lit. 'keep yourself alright'), where colloquial Dutch/Hollandic uses "Doei" (Bye).

Also in South Brabantian (Belgium) "Ale, salu(kes) e!", fashioned after the French "Allez!" and "Salut!", a greeting originally.

Brabantian dialects are characterised by the historical tendency towards accusativism, the use of the accusative case in the nominative as well. While the cases themselves have fallen out of use in the modern language, it is the accusative that survives, rather than the nominative as in the more northern dialects (nominativism). As the accusative case had different forms for masculine and feminine nouns, this development allowed these two genders to remain distinguished, and they are still kept separate in the spoken dialects of Brabant to this day. In areas with nominativism, the two genders fell together as the older nominative was the same for both genders.


The first attempts on standardizing the Dutch language in the 1540s were based on the Brabantian dialect, specifically that of Antwerp and its surroundings. However, following the Dutch Revolt, the Dutch economical and political focus shifted North, centering on the County of Holland and the importance of Brabantian dwindled. More recent attempts to establish a standard form of Brabantian have met little success.[citation needed] However, the new phenomenon of tussentaal is more and more widespread.

Position of Brabantian (beige) among the other minority languages, regional languages and dialects in the Benelux


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Brabants". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ "Taal in Nederland .:. Brabants". Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  • Jos Swanenberg (2002). "Brabantish". Language in the Netherlands. Retrieved 2007-06-03.  Dutch versions: Brabants or as pdf