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East Flemish

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Position of East Flemish (colour: light brown) among the other minority languages, regional languages and dialects in the Benelux

East Flemish is a group of dialects of the Dutch language, which is a Low Franconian language. It is spoken in the province of East Flanders in Belgium, but also spoken in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen in the Netherlands.

Brabantic Expansion

The French, Austrians and Spaniards have had influence on the vocabulary of East Flemish. Being a group of dialects rather than a clearly recognisable dialect with regional varieties such as West Flemish, the dialects spoken in the municipalities bordering West Flanders differ greatly from those spoken in the municipalities bordering the province of Antwerp, which often leads to speakers of these dialects believing the other person to be from that neighbouring province. This great variation is caused by the so-called 'Brabantic Expansion', the ever-increasing influence of Brabantic diphthongs, vocabulary and pronunciation that has been steadily changing the dialects of Flanders both east- and westward, and made the dialects of East Flanders different from those in West Flanders. It is believed that before this expansion, East and West Flanders roughly shared the same dialect.

Ghent's dialect

The dialect of the province's capital, Ghent, is also different from the language of the surrounding region. Popular myth has the people from Ghent purposely altered their way of speaking because they believed themselves to be superior to the surrounding rural areas. In reality, the difference occurred due to the rapid industrialisation in the 19th century. Most of Ghent's residents started working in these new factories, where the loud noise produced by various machinery forced the labourers to shout at each other when they wanted to communicate. This led to altered pronunciation, especially elongating vowels and emphasising the rolling uvular r. Ghent's dialect is especially known by these traits. Its dialect is often misrepresented as being typical for East Flemish dialects, while it is actually quite atypical.

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