Dutch, French, and German are the official languages of the Kingdom of Belgium. Several minority languages including English are also spoken. Dutch is considered the official language of the Flemish community and region. Both French and Dutch are the official languages of the Brussels-Capital Region. French is the second most used language, as it is used by about 40% of the population It is mostly used by the French community and as a second language by the Flemish people. German is considered a national language although it is used by less than one percent of Belgians. Dutch is a West Germanic language, with five vowels and twenty-one consonants.

A majority of Belgians (59%) are Flemish, 40% are French, and 1% are German. The Dutch dialects used in Belgium are Limburgish, West and East Flemish, and Brabantian. Some of the dialects are distant from the standard Dutch that they are non-intelligible to other Dutch speakers. The original Brabantian dialect used in Brussels has been diluted by the French language and is only used by a minority of the capital dwellers. A majority of German speakers in the parts seceded to Belgium by Germany under the Treaty of Versailles.

Much of the Dutch spoken in Belgium is not standard Dutch but instead dialects of the language. Brabantian is the most common dialect used. Brabantian contributed to the development of the standard Dutch. Some words such as houdoe ("take care"), were replaced by doei ("bye"). Belgian French is also slightly different from standard French, words such as septante for "seventy" and nonante for "ninety," in place of soixante-dix and quatre-vingt-dix.

Several minority languages are used in Belgium. Most of the minority languages are used as second and third languages. English is the largest minority language; it is used by 38% of Belgians as the second language while about 5% use Spanish as the second language. Italian is used by 1% as is Arabic and Yiddish.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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