Flemish (Vlaams in Dutch) is a popular informal term to refer to Belgian Dutch (Belgisch-Nederlands in Dutch), Dutch as spoken in Belgium. Among linguists, 'Flemish' refers to two specific dialects of Dutch alone, namely East and West Flemish. Occasionally 'Flemish' is used to refer to tussentaal a Dutch sociolect, also spoken in Belgium.
Dutch is the majority language in Belgium, being spoken natively by about 59% of the population. Its various dialects contain a number of lexical and a few grammatical features which distinguish them from the standard language. As in the Netherlands, the pronunciation of Standard Dutch is affected by the native dialect of the speaker.
All Dutch dialects spoken in Belgium (with the exception of East Flemish) are spoken in adjacent areas of the Netherlands as well. At the same time East Flemish forms a continuum with both Brabantic and West Flemish. Standard Dutch is primarily based on the Hollandic dialect (spoken in the Northern Netherlands) and to a lesser extent on Brabantian, which is the most dominant Dutch dialect of the Southern Netherlands and Flanders.
The main difference between Dutch spoken in Belgium and the Netherlands, is that Dutch in Belgium is uses the sound inventory of the Brabantic dialects. which is often called tussentaal ("in-between-language", between dialects and standard Dutch). This evolution is somewhat similar to the emergence of Poldernederlands in the Netherlands, a medium of everyday speech heavily influenced by Hollandic. It should be emphasized that neither Poldernederlands nor Tussentaal are dialects or different standard forms, but sociolects.
War of Words, Fear, and Farce in Flanders Katherine Butler Reports on Tension around Brussels, Where French- Speakers Are Accusing the Flemish of 'Ethnic Cleansing'
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