Monday, August 15, 2011

Flemish Pronunciation

Flemish is the variety of Dutch spoken in Belgium. It differs from the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands with respect to vocabulary and pronunciation. In fact, it is often divided into two dialects- West Flemish and East Flemish. In this post I wish to explore the differences in pronunciation between Flemish, the Dutch spoken in Belgium, and the Dutch of the Netherlands.

One notable difference in pronunciation occurs with the w. In the Netherlands it is usually pronounced as a labiovelar approximant, a sound with less friction than the English v. In Belgium, however, it is often pronounced as a labiovelar glide, the same as the w of English.

The mid vowels of words such as "zee" (sea) and "zo" (so) tend to be monophthongs in Belgium whereas they are diphthongs in most of the Netherlands.

The r is usually trilled in Belgium but many Dutch speakers use a uvular fricative and even an alveolar approximant in syllable-final position which is similar to that of English.

The g and ch are pronounced as a velar fricative in most of the Netherlands, similar to the German pronunciation of Bach. In Belgium, however, these letters are pronounced as a palatal fricative.

Another difference occurs with words that end with the suffix -tie. In the Netherlands, this suffix is pronounced /tsi/ but in Belgium it is pronounced /si/. This is heard in a number of words such as "revolutie" (revolution) and "situatie" (situation).

Flemish refers to the Dutch language spoken in Belgium. Many of the differences between these two varieties of Dutch are reflected in pronunciation. As a result, these pronunciation differences can identify Dutch speakers from Belgium and the Netherlands.

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