SITE SEARCH      SITE MAP
Ethnologue.com home
Ethnologue > Web version > Country index > Europe > Belgium

Languages of Belgium

See language map.
Kingdom of Belgium. Koninkrijk België. Royaume de Belgique. 10,348,276. National or official languages: Dutch, French, Standard German. Literacy rate: 98%. Also includes Algerian Spoken Arabic (10,800), Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Catalan-Valencian-Balear, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Eastern Yiddish (20,000), Italian (280,000), Iu Mien (200), Kabyle (49,000), Laz, Moroccan Spoken Arabic (105,000), Northern Kurdish (22,000), Portuguese (80,000), Spanish (70,000), Tarifit, Tosk Albanian (3,000), Tunisian Spoken Arabic (8,900), Turkish (63,600), Turoyo (2,000), Western Yiddish, Chinese (14,000), people from Democratic Republic of the Congo (10,000). Information mainly from M. Stephens 1976; B. Comrie 1976. Blind population: 4,779. Deaf population: 610,119. Deaf institutions: 26. The number of languages listed for Belgium is 10. Of those, 9 are living languages and 1 is a second language without mother-tongue speakers.

Living languages

Belgian Sign Language

[bvs]   Dialects: North Belgium Sign Language, South Belgium Sign Language. A variety of regional dialects which have their roots in different deaf schools. The dialect in the Flemish region is closer to that in the Walloon region than it is to Dutch Sign Language. Adopted signs from the old French sign language directly and indirectly. It began in 1825. Different sign languages are used in the classroom and by adults outside the classroom.  Classification: Deaf sign language 
More information.

Dutch

[nld] 4,620,150 in Belgium (1990 WA). The language of provinces of West Vlaanderen, Oost Vlaanderen, Antwerpen, Limburg, Vlaams-Brabant, and the bilingual part (10% to 20%) of Brussels. Alternate names: Nederlands.  Dialects: Brabants, Oost-Vlaams.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, Low Saxon-Low Franconian, Low Franconian 
More information.

Europanto

[eur]  Brussels, European Union buildings. Classification: Artificial language 
More information.

French

[fra] 4,000,000 in Belgium (1988 M. Harris in B. Comrie). Official language in provinces of Hainaut, Namur, Liège, Luxembourg, Brabant-Walloon, southern hills, and the bilingual part of Brussels. Lorraine dialect, southern villages Luxembourg Province. Alternate names: Français.  Dialects: Lorraine.  Classification: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Rhaetian, Oïl, French 
More information.

German, Standard

[deu] 150,000 in Belgium (1988 Hawkins in B. Comrie). Official language in Liège Province, cantons of Eupen and Sankt-Vith, municipalities: Eupen, Kelmis, Lontzen, Raeren, Amel, Bnlingen, Bntchenbach, Sankt-Vith, and Burg-Reuland. Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, East Middle German 
More information.

Limburgisch

[lim] 600,000 in Belgium (2001). Depending on the city in Belgium, 50% to 90% of the population speak it (2001 A. Schunck). Hasselt, Genk, Maaseik, Voeren, Eupen. Alternate names: Limburgs Plat.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, West Middle German, Rhenisch Franconian 
More information.

Luxembourgeois

[ltz] 30,000 in Belgium (1998). Area of Arlon and Bastogne, Luxembourg Province. Alternate names: Letzburgisch.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, West Middle German, Moselle Franconian 
More information.

Picard

[pcd]  Most of Hainaut Province (Tournai, Mons, Ath). Alternate names: Rouchi, Chtimi.  Dialects: Belgian Picard.  Classification: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Rhaetian, Oïl, French 
More information.

Vlaams

[vls] 1,070,000 in Belgium (1998 U. of Ghent). Population total all countries: 1,202,000. Large parts of the Province of West Flanders. Also spoken in France, Netherlands. Alternate names: Flamand, Vlaemsch.  Dialects: Westvlaams (Vlaemsch), Oostvlaams, Antwerps, Limburgs, Brabants. Close to Dutch, English, Frisian.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, Low Saxon-Low Franconian, Low Franconian 
More information.

Walloon

[wln] 1,120,000 (1998). Few monolinguals. Population includes 320,000 young people (1998). 1,220,000 to 1,920,000 young people can understand it (1998). Wallonia. Central Walloon dialect, Namur, Wavre, and Dinant; Eastern Walloon dialect, Liège, Malmedy, Verviers, Huy, and Waremme; Western Walloon dialect, Charleroi, Nivelles, and Philippeville; Southern Walloon dialect, the Ardennes Region, Marche, and Neufchâteau. Also spoken in Luxembourg until recently. It is or was spoken in parts of northern France, and in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. Alternate names: Wallon.  Dialects: Central Walloon, Eastern Walloon, Western Walloon, Southern Walloon. Walloon developed between the 8th and 12th centuries from remnants of Latin brought to the region by Roman soldiers, merchants, and settlers. The eastern subdialect of Walloon is considered to be the more difficult one to understand within Belgium.  Classification: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Rhaetian, Oïl, French 
More information.