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About our language

The standard language in Flanders is Dutch, as it is in the neighbouring Netherlands. Dutch spelling and grammar are regulated by a single authority, the Dutch Language Union (Nederlandse Taalunie), controlled by both the Dutch and the Flemish government.

Because they have a language in common, Flanders and the Netherlands also share a common book market, with a combined Dutch-language readership of 23.5 million people. And regardless of whether they are published by a Flemish or a Dutch publisher, books are generally distributed across the whole market. This also means some Flemish authors are published by Dutch publishers or the other way round. There are also a couple of large Dutch-Flemish publishing groups.

Flanders and the Netherlands share one language. It was the inspiration for the motto of their guest of honour presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2016.

Sometimes the Dutch spoken in Flanders is called ‘Flemish’. The biggest difference between ‘Flemish’ Dutch and Dutch as it is used in the Netherlands lies in their pronunciation. You could compare it to the difference between the German spoken in Germany and that spoken in Austria, for example. In essence, though, it is one and the same language. It is not the case that separate editions of books are made in ‘Flemish Dutch’ and ‘Netherlands Dutch’, as does happen for Portuguese books in Portugal and Brazil and sometimes for English books in the UK and US.