Indo-European / Germanic / West Germanic / Low German / Low Frankish
Area and Varieties
It is the dialects of the Netherlands’ province Northern Brabant
(Noord-Brabant) and the Belgian provinces of Antwerp (Antwerpen) and
Flemish Brabant (Vlaams-Brabant) that are considered Brabantish. Of
course, the isoglosses do not exactly coincide with the provincial
boundaries. There are three smaller areas in Northern Brabant where
non-Brabantish dialects are used: the Westhoek around Dinteloord with
dialects that are rather more Hollandish, Budel and environs, that is
Dommellands (d.h. Northwestern Belgian Limburgish), and the region of
Cuijk where Kleverlandish is used, thus being more connected with the
northern parts of Netherlands Limburg and southeastern Gelderland.
Furthermore, there are a few transitional areas in which no exact boundary
can be determined. The dialects of the Bommelerwaard to the north of
eastern Northern Brabant strongly resemble the Brabantish dialects south
of the Maas River. Flemish Brabant borders the Eastern Flemish dialect
area in the west; the dialects in the transitional area, the Denderstreek,
are also more or less Brabantish. Flemish Brabant borders Belgian Limburg
in the east; the dialects of the transitional area, the Geteland, are also
more or less Brabantish. In these three problematic cases, the provincial
boundaries are referred to for the sake of convenience, although this is
not quite correct in terms of dialectology.
Important features of Brabantish dialects include umlauting, diminutive
forms with -ke, and 2nd person pronouns with g- (ge, gij, gellie).
Number of Speakers
The number of speakers is unknown.
Brabantish is not considered a minority language. For this reason, there
are no efforts to standardize Brabantish, nor to include these dialects in
education or to use them in formal situations.
In 1999, orthographic guidelines were developed for all Brabantish
dialects, with participation of representatives from Northern Brabant,
Antwerp and Flemish Brabant.
Some areas have developed strong cabaret and music traditions in which the
dialects are used. Especially the bailiwick of ’s-Hertogenbosch, the
cities of Antwerp, Mechelen and Leuven, and the Pajottenland (Brussels and
the area west of it), are home to many advocates of dialect use. This is
hardly the case in other areas, such as the eastern part of the province
of Antwerp, the region of Heusden and Altena, and the northwestern parts
of Northern Brabant.