Brabantian dialect

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Native to Belgium, Netherlands
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog brab1242[1]
Linguasphere 52-ACB-ak (varieties:
52-ACB-aka to-akk)

Brabantian or Brabantish, also Brabantic (Dutch: Brabants, Standard Dutch pronunciation: [ˈbraːbɑnts], Brabantian: [ˈbrɑ:bans]), is a dialect group of the Dutch language. It is named after the historical Duchy of Brabant, part of the Duchy of Burgundy which corresponded mainly to the Dutch provinces of North Brabant and south Gelderland, the Belgian provinces of Antwerp and Flemish Brabant, as well as the institutional Region of Brussels-Capital (where its native speakers have become a minority) and the province of Walloon Brabant. 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 a small area 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:

Brabantian is a significant language in the Netherlands; currently over 5 million people live in an area where some form of Brabantian is the predominant colloquial language (in a area of 22,000,000 Dutch-speakers).[2][3] Compared to other dialects and sublanguages in the Dutch language area Brabantian has had historically been a major influence on the development of Dutch. During the middle ages, manuscripts from the tenth to fifteenth centuries show that first Limburgish and later West-Flemish were the predominant literary languages (there is no evidence of literary manuscripts further north). In the latter part of the 14th century the societal emphasis shifted to Brabant and the Brabantian dialect became dominant. During this period a migration to the north occurred; the west-Flemish dialect influenced the coastal area of the province of south Holland ('s-Gravenhage and Leiden) and the migrants from Brabant ended up un the provinces of north Holland, and Utrecht. In the 16th century when the low countries were in turmoil another migration occurred from the Spanish Netherlands (roughly current Belgium), towards the United provinces of the Netherlands. During this migration the cultural elite moved from the oppressive Spanish/Roman Catholic region to the more liberal (and Protestant) north. About this latter migration wave the Dutch linguistics historian Nicoline Van der Sijs [4] says that it is a popular myth that Brabantian was a dominant influence in the process of standardization of the Dutch language beginning in the 16th century. She says Standard Dutch is a standardized Hollands dialect. However researchers of variance linguistics at the University of Gent [5] and Dutch linguists in Berlin [6] do recognize the distinctive influence of Brabantian on the first Dutch standardization in the 16th century. The first major formation of standard Dutch also took place in Antwerp, where a Brabantian dialect is spoken. The default language being developed around this time had therefore mainly Brabantian influences. The early modern Dutch written language was initially influenced primarily by Brabantian, with strong influence from Hollandic emerging after the 16th century. Since then, it has diverged from Standard Dutch, evolving in its own way, but is still similar enough for them to be mutually intelligible.[7] The Berlin scientists point to a very important phenomenon in the 20th century in the south of the Dutch language area: they note that there has been an expansion in the use of Brabantian due to the dominant presence of native Brabantian speakers in modern mass media such as radio and television.

About one quarter of the Dutch-speaking population lives in the Brabantian dialect zone. In the Netherlands, rural areas have still retained their original Brabantian dialects to a fair degree. In large Dutch cities such as Breda and Eindhoven, where the industrial revolution drew many people from other parts of the country, the dialect has become more "moderated" by language mixture and is generally closer to standard Dutch. Because people tended to migrate towards the cities from the surrounding rural areas as well, Brabantian influence is still seen in certain vocabulary items and in pronunciation (the "Brabantian accent" of Dutch). The original Brabantian city dialects have largely disappeared there, however. Nevertheless, some large cities such as Tilburg and 's-Hertogenbosch still have a large number of people speaking the original Brabantian dialect.

In Belgium, dialects are still the common spoken language[citation needed]. They are also still spoken in most large cities, particularly in Antwerp where Antwerpian (a city dialect that is rather distinct from that of the surrounding area) has remained in wide use. 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 due to young Dutch-speaking families moving back from the suburbs toward the old city centre.


The Brabantian dialect is rather close to standard Dutch and contributed to its development.[citation needed] Brabantian uses a more palatal pronunciation of /ɣ/ and /x/, termed the "soft G". A characteristic phrase, houdoe (meaning "take care"), derives from houd u goed (literally "keep yourself alright"), where colloquial Dutch/Hollandic uses doei ("bye").

In South Brabantian (Belgium) "Ale, salu(kes) e!", fashioned after the French "Allez!" and "Salut!" commonly occurs as a greeting.

Brabantian dialects have a characteristic historical tendency towards accusativism, the use of the accusative case in the nominative as well. While the cases themselves have fallen out of use in the modern language, the accusative form survives in Brabantian, rather than the nominative as in the more northern dialects (nominativism). As the accusative case had different forms for masculine and feminine nouns, this development allowed these two genders to remain distinguished, and speakers of Brabantian dialects still keep them separate to this day. In areas with nominativism, the two genders fell together, as the older nominative was the same for both genders.


The first attempts on standardizing the Dutch language in the 1540s were based on the Brabantian dialect, specifically that of Antwerp and its surroundings. However, following the Dutch Revolt, the Dutch economical and political focus shifted North, centering on the County of Holland and the importance of Brabantian dwindled. More recent attempts to establish a standard form of Brabantian have met little success.[citation needed] However, the new phenomenon of tussentaal is more and more widespread.

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


  1. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Brabants". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Belgium FOD economy Statbel official demographic statistics
  3. Netherlands gouvernement CBS official demographic statistics
  4. ABN was vooral een Hollandse uitvinding from 2004
  5. Brabants
  6. nederlands in vlaanderen
  7. "Taal in Nederland .:. Brabants". Retrieved 2014-04-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Jos Swanenberg (2002). "Brabantish". Language in the Netherlands. Retrieved 2007-06-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Dutch versions: Brabants or as pdf

Further reading

  • Belemans, Rob (1999), "Brussel", in Kruijsen, Joep; van der Sijs, Nicoline (eds.), Honderd Jaar Stadstaal (PDF), Uitgeverij Contact, pp. 317–333<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • de Schutter, G. (1999), "Antwerpen", in Kruijsen, Joep; van der Sijs, Nicoline (eds.), Honderd Jaar Stadstaal (PDF), Uitgeverij Contact, pp. 301–315<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Peters, Jörg (2010), "The Flemish–Brabant dialect of Orsmaal–Gussenhoven", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 40 (2): 239–246, doi:10.1017/S0025100310000083<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Swanenberg, Cor (1999), "'s-Hertogenbosch", in Kruijsen, Joep; van der Sijs, Nicoline (eds.), Honderd Jaar Stadstaal (PDF), Uitgeverij Contact, pp. 207–222<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • van Oostendorp, Marc (2001), "The phonology of postvocalic /r/ in Brabant Dutch and Limburg Dutch", in van de Velde, Hans; van Hout, Roeland (eds.), 'r-atics, Brussels: Etudes & Travaux, pp. 113–122, ISSN 0777-3692<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>