I’m off to buy a “kleedje”. Differences between Dutch and Flemish.

Whenever somebody asks me where I am from, the conversation soon turns to language. Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German. The official language of Flanders, the region I am from, is Dutch. But the Dutch I speak sounds a little different from the Dutch they speak in the Netherlands.

Sounds complicated? It’s actually quite funny at times. For example:


In the Netherlands, if you order “patat” you’ll get a portion of fries. If you order “patat” in Flanders, you’ll get a strange look because it just means potato there. If you want to eat fries in Flanders, which you definitely should, ask for “frietjes”.



Should you want to do some shopping, take into account that “kleedje” will get you something else in Amsterdam than in Antwerp. In the Netherlands it’s a rug, in Flanders it’s a short dress.


You should probably refrain from saying “poepen”. But if you do, know that in the Netherlands it means to have a shit, whilst in Flanders it is an equally vulgar way of saying “sex”.


Need to catch the bus? In Flanders, running is called “lopen”, in the Netherlands it is called “rennen”. If a Dutch person says “lopen”, they mean “to walk”. In Flanders, to walk is “stappen”, in the Netherlands that means to go out. You’re still with me?



In Flanders, this is a home for the elderly. In the Netherlands, somebody’s “rustoord” is their final resting place. You don’t want to mix these two up.

In case I lost some of you along the way, here’s a nice little overview.

Netherlands Flanders
patat fries potato
kleed rug dress
poepen to poop to have sex
lopen to walk to run
stappen to go out to walk
rustoord burial ground home for the elderly


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