In addition to the three official languages, others are spoken in Belgium, like in Wallonia, where French became dominant only relatively recently. Sometimes seen as dialects, the varieties related to French have been recognized by the French Community as separate languages (langues régionales endogènes, lit. ‘regional native languages’) since 1990, without, however, taking any further significant measures to support those varieties.
Languages spoken by immigrants from recent decades and their descendants include Berber (Riffian), Arabic (Maghrebi), Spanish, Turkish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Polish and English.
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Percentage of adults in Belgium who speak the languages below as a native or learned language.
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Almost 60 per cent of the Belgian population speak Dutch as their first language, 40 per cent are francophones and there is a small German speaking region (with less than 2 per cent of the population) in the eastern part of the country along the German border.
Also all official communication with the government (e.g. tax papers, local politics, ID/passport requests, building permits etc.) must be in the official language of the region or community. Inhabitants of a few municipalities are granted an exception to these rules.
Champenois was also legally recognized in 1990. It is mainly spoken in Champagne, France, and a small part of Wallonia.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in in Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg from Survival Books.
An increasing number of Flemish people and French speakers in Belgium speak at least a second and even a third language. These days, there is little chance that you will meet anyone here who does not speak English. A lot of Flemish people speak French and more and since some time now more French speakers are learning Dutch. The knowledge of German is less widely spread.
Walloon, a language very closely related to French, is the historical language of southern Belgium, and most of the areas where French is now spoken were Walloon-speaking. It is also the traditional national language of the Walloons. Though it has been recognized, like other vernaculars in Belgium, since 1990, it is mainly spoken by older people, though younger Walloons may claim some knowledge. It is mainly used in rural regions, and is used in theaters and literature, though not in schools.
In Brussels, the main language spoken is French but like many capital cities these days is multilingual, perhaps even moreso given it is the home of the EU and the high number of foreign officials and diplomats who live there. All public services and information are in both French and Dutch.
Education is provided by the Communities, Dutch in the Flemish Community (Flanders and Brussels), French in the French Community (Wallonia and Brussels), German in the German-speaking community. Instruction in other languages is prohibited in government-funded schools (except for foreign language subjects of course, and in higher education where English is increasingly used).
In 2006, the Université Catholique de Louvain, the country's largest French-speaking university, published a report with the introduction (translated):
The language divide is just one part of a much greater segregation between the Flanders and Wallonia regions. When you're talking to locals in the north, it is common for them to describe themselves as being "from Flanders" rather than "from Belgium". Indeed, Flanders has its own parliament and government and several political parties continue to campaign for Flemish independence.
Within the report, professors in economics Ginsburgh and Weber further show that of the Brussels' residents, 95% declared they can speak French, 59% Dutch, and 41% know the non-local English. Of those under the age of forty, 59% in Flanders declared that they could speak all three, along with 10% in Wallonia and 28% in Brussels. In each region, Belgium's third official language, German, is notably less known than those.
French is probably the ‘preferred’ language for the Brussels area on account of the concentration of international organisations (which are often heavily subsidised by the French government to encourage and insist upon ‘ la francophonie’!) and the preponderance of French-speaking residents who work in those organisations. On the other hand, there are far more jobs available (owing to the concentration of industry and commerce) in the Dutch part of the country.
Luxembourgish, a Moselle Franconian language formerly regarded as a variety of German, is native to Arelerland, the eastern part of the Belgian province of Luxembourg, including the city of Arlon (Arel). Here it has largely been replaced by Belgian French in recent decades, contrarily to its flourishing on the other side of the border, in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Like LSFB, Flemish Sign Language, or VGT, is a Francosign language descended from Old Belgian Sign Language which is spoken primarily in Flanders with five major regional dialects: West Flanders, East Flanders, Antwerp, Flemish Brabant, and Limburg. Moreover, there is dialectal variation between men and women speakers due to historical developments of the language.
Unlike VGT and LSFB, DGS, or German Sign Language, is unrelated to LSF and comprises its own language family. DGS is related to PJM and Shassi. It is primarily spoken around the German-speaking communities of Belgium, although both languages, German and DGS, are unrelated.
In Belgium you can speak any language you want. For contacts with the authorities three official languages can be used: Dutch, French and German.These languages are not spoken everywhere, because Belgium is subdivided into federated states. Each federated state has its own official language. Only the Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual.However, more and more residents in our country are multilingual and speak the two most important national languages.
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As a result of this split, many road signs and other notices around Belgium are written in both French and Dutch. German, while one of the three official languages, is much less prevalent and only spoken by less than 1% of the population.
The language has, since 1990, been recognised by the Walloon authorities as Francique (Franconian). It was the only non-Romance language recognized in the 1990 decreet.
Languages Spoken In Belgium
French is the second most popular language in Belgium, spoken by just over 30% of the population. Many Flemish people can also speak French as a second language. Like the Dutch spoken in Flanders, Belgian French is mostly similar to that spoken in France but there are some small differences in vocabulary and pronunciation.
Another language very closely related to French, and a historic language of the region, Picard, was recognized by the government of the French Community in 1990. Western Belgium has its core area in France, stretching into the western part of Wallonia.
Dutch in Flanders, the northern part of the country; French in Wallonia, the southern part; German in a small area in the east. Largely French in Brussels, but the capital is very cosmopolitan: there are several thousand native English speakers (including me !) and a recent survey came to the conclusion that, after French, the language most commonly spoken in people's homes in Brussels is probably Arabic.
If I am looking for help what Languages are spoken in Belgium
You can use English in all of these. Brussels is officially bilingual French/Dutch, with French predominating; while Brugge and Antwerp are in Flanders and therefore Dutch-speaking - with English, not French, as preferred other language.
Belgium has three official languages: French, Dutch and German.
Flanders too has a number of dialects, but linguists regard these as varieties of Dutch rather than a separate Flemish language. The main Dutch dialects in Belgium are Brabantian, Limburgish, East Flemish, and West Flemish. Standard Dutch, as spoken in Belgium, is mostly influenced by Brabantian. There are literary traditions in both the East Flemish and West Flemish dialects.
I dont speak Flemmish or German. I know a few basic phrases in French . I realize the whole world does not speak english so I would try to learn a few phrases in whatever language is nessasary
Sub-titling in media Yes & No · Official languages Dutch, French, German
Of course you can get instant help with the local lingo thanks to the WorldNomads language guides which you can download to your computer or iphone.
Like the other indigenous languages closely related to French, Lorrain was recognized in 1990. It is mainly spoken in Gaume, a part of Belgian Lorraine.
The French spoken in Belgium is standard but with its own distinctive accent (at least according to the French!) and a few specialised words, notably the use of septante and nonante for 70 and 90 instead of soixante-dix and quatre-vingt-dix. (Oddly, the Belgians do use quatre-vingt for the number 80 rather than octante, which is used in Switzerland and some other francophone areas of the world.)
Belgium is divided into two distinct regions - Flanders to the north (where Brussels is located) and Wallonia in the south. Just to make it a little more confusing, the Flemish speak Dutch, but do not consider themselves Dutch, and the Walloons speak French, but do not consider themselves French. There is also a small region of German-speaking Belgians on the German border.
Before the federal structure and the language legislation gradually introduced in the 20th century, French was generally the only language used by public authorities. For example, the Dutch version of the Constitution has enjoyed equal status to the original French one only since 1967, and the German version only since 1991.
German is the least prevalent official language in Belgium, spoken natively by less than 1% of the population. The German-speaking Community of Belgium numbers 77,000, residing in an area of Belgium that was ceded by the former German Empire as part of the Treaty of Versailles, which concluded World War I. In 1940, Nazi Germany re-annexed the region following its invasion of Belgium during World War II; after the war it was returned to Belgium.
This is not just because variety is the spice of life - the country's linguistic diversity stems from a series of related political and cultural conflicts that started many hundreds of years ago and continue to this day. It's important to be aware of the sensitivities that surround language and how it changes depending on which part of the country you're in.