If you’re wondering what the language is in Bruges, the short answer is: Flemish. However, it’s not the only language spoken in Bruges. Most of the locals have a decent command of English and French is widely used, giving visitors some leeway on how they communicate. Despite this, it’s worth taking some time to learn a few basics of the Bruges language, before you go on your holiday. Not only can a well-chosen phrase help you create a good first impression, but it can also help you out on a practical level.
Flemish or Dutch?
The Bruges language is West Germanic in its origins and has a lot in common with Dutch. For non-Flemish speakers, the two can sound almost identical, although they are quite different. In addition, the Bruges language has a number of sounds that aren’t present in English, making it difficult to translate in conversation. It’s estimated that over half of the population speak Flemish, while the remainder use Dutch as their first language. Flemish has absorbed certain words from both French and Latin and uses the Latin alphabet. While this might all sound as though it’s an impenetrable tongue, there are some simple phrases that you can learn, giving you a better chance of understanding at least some of the language spoken in Bruges.
Stand out from the Crowd
Unless you’re booking your holiday well in advance and have the time to dedicate to learning the Bruges language, the chances are that you’re not going to become fluent before you take your break. However, learning a few basic pleasantries, greetings and practical pieces of grammar can give you more freedom on your holiday. A smattering of the native tongue always goes down well with the locals and can help to put you streets ahead of the estimated 78% of visitors who don’t bother with the basics.
Food and Friends
While the majority of the city’s inhabitants might have a good command of English, it’s only polite to try and learn a little of the Bruges language. In addition to helping you out with day-to-day practicalities, such as ordering food, asking for the bill or even asking for directions, it can help to create genuine connections between people. Part of the fun of going on holiday is making new friends and getting to know the locals, whether it’s a waiter, a shopkeeper or someone you bump into at a hotel. Being able to use a little of the language in Bruges acts as a great ice-breaker and helps to get the conversation started, no matter how limited it might be to begin with.
Learn Flemish Fast
Learning the Bruges language doesn’t have to be a chore or massively time-consuming. We’ve compiled a list of the some of the most common phrases used by people on holiday and translated them for you. To help you with pronunciation, we’ve even included sound files. Click on the ‘play’ icon and you’ll hear the language in Bruges spoken as it should sound, allowing you to listen and repeat, until it becomes second nature.
Whether it’s for practical purposes or you need to be able to explain the basics in an emergency situation, having a little of the Bruges language up your sleeve can help you get more from your holiday to this magical city.