Friday, 29 June 2012


'Graag' (more or less 'gladly') is a tricky word for me to pronounce and I'm guessing it's tricky for lots of native English speakers. The switch from an whispered 'h' sound (ɣ) to an r then back to ɣ is tricky so I asked my Flemish buddy what his tongue was doing. Mine goes from being flat in the mouth to the top of the mouth (as English speakers tend to do when pronouncing r) whereas his stayed flat throughout! He did warn me that his way of saying it may be a Brussels accent but it has to be better then mine!

From now on I'll try to keep my tongue down (and slightly back) throughout the pronunciation.

Out of interest graag seems to have the same root as 'greedy' in English:
Graag: From Middle Dutch gradig (desirous, willing), from Old Dutch *grādag (desirous, hungry)
Cognate withOld Saxon grādag (hungry)Old High German grātag (greedy, thirsty, gaping)Old English grǣdig (greedy, hungry, covetous, eager). (reference here)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Dutch column

Interesting column in a Flemish magazine for English speakers who are learning Dutch!

Unlike my 'column' though, the above 'Flanders Today' column is written by someone who seems to have mastered the language!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Spirou: Journal d'un ingénu in 'Bruxellois'.

I recently bought this Spirou 'BD' as I was attracted by the wonderful illustrations of Brussels, the rather dark take on this very Belgian character and the fact that this version is in Bruxellois. Sometimes called 'Marollien' this dialect has been described as part French, part Spanish and part Dutch (

So let's see for ourselves shall we? In the marvellous lexicon at the back of this book there is an exhaustive list of Brusselair words, some of which seem somewhat familiar…

Bruxellois / Dutch / English

doon / doen / to do
koemer / kamer / room
gebrauken / gebroken / broken
kozaain / neef (although I have seen kozijn used-poss archaic?) / cousin

In my own experience of learning French, first in France and then in Brussels, there are Dutch words I use in French without realising! Particularly:

'il fait douf'
'il drache'
and of course the beautiful: 'cheveux crollés'.