East Flemish

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East Flemish
Native to Belgium
Region East Flanders
Native speakers
(no estimate available)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Position of East Flemish (colour: light brown) among the other minority languages, regional languages and dialects in the Benelux

East Flemish is a dialect of the Dutch language. It is spoken in the province of East Flanders in Belgium and eastern Zeeuws-Vlaanderen in the Netherlands. It is sometimes considered a separate dialect of Dutch,[1] or as a subdialect of Brabantian Dutch.[2]

Brabantic Expansion[edit]

The French, Austrians and Spaniards have had influence on the vocabulary of East Flemish. Being a group of dialects rather than a clearly recognisable dialect with regional varieties such as West Flemish, the dialects spoken in the municipalities bordering West Flanders differ greatly from those spoken in the municipalities bordering the province of Antwerp, which often leads to speakers of these dialects believing the other person to be from that neighbouring province. This great variation is caused by the so-called 'Brabantic Expansion', the ever-increasing influence of Brabantic diphthongs, vocabulary and pronunciation that has been steadily changing the dialects of Flanders both east- and westward, and made the dialects of East Flanders different from those in West Flanders. It is believed that before this expansion, East and West Flanders roughly shared the same dialect.

Ghent dialect[edit]

The dialect of the province's capital, Ghent, is also different from the language of the surrounding region. The abovementioned Brabantic expansion is believed to have started in Ghent, setting its speech apart from the other Flemish dialects. Some of these Brabantic traits were exported to other East Flemish dialects, but many were not. Differences include n dropping and more extreme diphthongisation of ancient ii and uu. At the same time, Ghent resisted many innovations characteristic for rural East Flanders. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the French (uvular) r was adopted. Ghent's dialect is especially known by these traits.[3]


  1. ^ Dutch reference at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  2. ^ Belgium (2005). Keith Brown, ed. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2 ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-044299-4. 
  3. ^ Johan Taeldeman (1985): De klankstructuren van het Gentse dialect. Een synchrone beschrijving en een historische en geografische situering.