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Brabantian dialect

Related subjects: Languages

Background Information

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Position of Brabantian (beige) among the other minority languages, regional languages and dialects in the Benelux

Brabantian or Brabantish, also: Brabantic (Brabantian: Braobans; Dutch: Brabants) is a dialect group of the Dutch language named after the historical Duchy of Brabant which corresponded mainly to the Dutch province of North Brabant, the Belgian provinces of Antwerp and Flemish Brabant, as well as the institutional Region of Brussels-Capital where its native speakers became a minority — and the province of Walloon Brabant where French has caused the dialects to become extinct. Brabantian expands into small parts in the west of Limburg while its strong influence on the Flemish dialects in East-Flanders weakens towards the west. In the northwest of North Brabant ( Willemstad), Hollandic is spoken. Conventionally, the South Guelderish dialects are distinguished from Brabantian, though there are no objective criteria apart from geography to do this.

Because of the relatively large area in which Brabantian is spoken, it can be roughly divided in three sub-dialects:

  • West Brabantian, spoken in the area west of the river Donge; in the west of North Brabant (the area around the cities Breda and Roosendaal) and in the north and west of the Province of Antwerp in Belgium.
  • East Brabantian, spoken in the area east of the river Donge; in the middle and east of North Brabant (the area around the cities Tilburg, Eindhoven, 's-Hertogenbosch and Helmond), the east of the Province of Antwerp and the far west of the Province of Limburg.
  • South Brabantian, spoken in the province of Flemish Brabant and the south of Antwerp.

Brabantian is not recognized as a minority language in the Netherlands: as standard Dutch is partly based on Brabantian, there is no need of a separate Brabantian standard.

About one third of the Dutch-speaking population lives in the Brabantian dialect zone. In large Dutch towns such as Breda and Eindhoven, where there are many people of Hollandic descent speaking standard Dutch, Brabantian dialects have been largely abandoned, whereas in rural areas many people still speak the original dialect. Tilburg and 's-Hertogenbosch, however, have a large number of people speaking the Brabantian dialect.

In Belgium, dialects are still the common spoken language. In the capital of Brussels, French largely replaced Dutch in the middle of the 20th century. Despite this, there are many cultural activities using the Brussels dialect, and recently also at masses in a church in Jette. Moreover, use of Dutch is reviving among young Dutch-speaking families who are moving back from the suburbs toward the old city centre.

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