Infobox Language
fam3=West Germanic
fam4=Low Franconian
script=Latin alphabet (Zealandic variant)

Zeelandic ("Zeêuws" in Zeelandic, "Zeeuws" in Dutch) is a regional language spoken in the Dutch province of Zeeland and on the South Holland island of Goeree-Overflakkee. Commonly considered a Dutch dialect, it has notable differences mainly in pronunciation, but as well in grammar and vocabulary, which set it clearly apart from Dutch proper and make easy comprehension by unskilled Dutch speakers impossible.Zeelandic is included within West Flemish by some observers. [cite web
quote=Together with West-Flemish and the Flemish spoken in northern France, Zeeuws is part of a cluster of remarkably homogenic dialects.
author=Marco Evenhuis
work=Language in the Netherlands
Dutch versions: [http://taal.phileon.nl/zeeuws.php Zeeuws] or as [http://taal.phileon.nl/pdf/zeeuws.pdf pdf]


Zeelandic is a transitional regional language between Hollandic and West Flemish. In the Middle Ages and early modern age, Zeeland was claimed by both the Count of Holland and the Count of Flanders, and the area laid within either influence. The respective dialects clearly show a gradual increase of Hollandic elements as one goes northwards. Yet Zeelandic is fairly coherent and easy to border, as the broad sea-arms form strong isoglosses.


The main differences from Standard Dutch are the following: Zeelandic has three rather than two grammatical genders, as a result of which it retained the final schwas in feminine words; it kept the monophthongs [IPA|i] and [IPA|y] for "ij" and "ui" rather than breaking them into [IPA|ɛi] and [IPA|œy] ; it umlauted most [IPA|aː] s into [IPA|ɛː] s; it renders the old Germanic [IPA|ai] and [IPA|au] as falling diphthongs ( [IPA|eə] and [IPA|ɔə] ), whereas Dutch proper took them together with etymological e's and o's and finally it drops the h.

The present table illustrates those differences (note: the orthography is Dutch):


The province of Zeeland consists of several former islands which were difficult to reach until well into the 20th century. As a result, there is roughly one dialect per island. The respective dialects differ clearly, but only slightly. The Goeree-Overflakkee dialect, for example, does not drop the h, and the Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland dialects have umlauted words where the northern ones don't (for example: "beuter" [IPA|bøtər] against "boter" [IPA|botər] . Within the island dialects themselves dialectical differences also exist: native speakers can frequently tell which village (at least on their own island) a person is from by the specific dialect he or she speaks, even if this is unintelligible to outsiders.

The Zeelandic Flanders region contains dialects that are largely outside the definition of Zeelandic, but must be considered West Flemish and East Flemish. The West Flemish dialects in this region, however, are yet commonly classified as "Zeelandic".

Geographic distribution and social aspects

Zeelandic bears the burden of being strongly associated with the rural population, being chiefly spoken on the countryside. The town dialects of Middelburg and Vlissingen are both much closer to Hollandic than the rural variants and on the edge of extinction. Surveys held in the nineties showed that at least 60% of the Zeeland population still uses Zeelandic as everyday language. There are an estimated 250,000 people who speak it as mother tongue (taking the West Zeelandic Flemish in the count), and though it is in decline, just as any other regional language, it is in no direct danger of extinction, since in some villages with strong isolated communities even more than 90% of the youngsters would speak Zeelandic. On the other hand, in several villages that have seen much immigration, the local dialect is only spoken by the adult population, as children are not taught it any longer.

There is a lobby for recognising the Zeelandic regional language under the European charter for minority languages. As of 2005, they failed so far to achieve this status.


External links

* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=zea Ethnologue report for Zeeuws]

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