French Flemish

French Flemish
Spoken in: French Region Nord-Pas-de-Calais,
near border of Flanders, Belgium.
Number of speakers: France – 20 000 full speakers or 50 000 with varying proficiency[1] – 60 000 (1999)[2]
Language Family:
Indo-European languages

 Germanic languages
  West Germanic
     West Flemish
      French Flemish

Official Status
France None[3]
Language Code
ISO 639-3: vls

French Flemish (French Flemish: Fransch vlaemsch, Standard Dutch: Frans-Vlaams, French: flamand français) is a West Flemish dialect spoken in the north of contemporary France. Place names attest to Flemish having been spoken since the 8th century in the area that was ceded to France in the 17th century and which became known as French Flanders. Its dialect subgroup, called French Flemish, meanwhile, became a minority dialect that survives mainly in Dunkirk (Duinkerke in Dutch/Duunkerke in West Flemish = dune church), Bourbourg (Broekburg in Dutch), Calais (Kales), Saint-Omer (Sint-Omaars) with an ethnic enclave Haut-Pont (Haute-Ponte) known for its predominantly Flemish community and Bailleul (Belle). French-Flemish has about 20,000 daily users, and twice that number of occasional speakers. The language's status appears to be moribund,[4] but there has been an active movement to retain French Flemish in the region.[1]


French Flemish is taught in a few schools in the French Westhoek. The ANVT-ILRF was given permission to carry out experimental lessons in four public schools (in Esquelbecq, Noordpeene, Volckerinckhove, Wormhout) for the school years of 2007–08 until 2010–11, after which it would be evaluated. Afterwards, all requirements were met but it was only allowed to continue them, but not to expand to other schools or to the collège. On the other hand, the private Catholic education began teaching Dutch in collèges in Gravelines and Hondschoote.[5]


Though generally seen as a dialect of Dutch, some of its speakers prefer to call it a regional language. Jean-Paul Couché, chairman of the Akademie voor Nuuze Vlaemsche Taele (ANVT), argues:[1]

Linguistically, a dialect depends on a larger, national language. That does not apply to French Flemish. We are not connected to standard Dutch because it is an artificial language that was created based on the dialects of North Holland. Research shows that the distance between French Flemish and Dutch is greater than that between Dutch and German.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 French Flemish: group defends a dying language, Flanders Today
  2. Bientôt une charte pour sauver le ch’ti et les 74 autres langues régionales ?, in La Voix du Nord.
  3. "Flemish in France". UOC, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia), subsite Euromosaic – Research Centre of Multilingualism. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  4. "Flemish in France". UOC, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia), subsite Euromosaic – Research Centre of Multilingualism. Retrieved 14 January 2007.
  5. "Le flamand fait son entrée dans deux collèges du Dunkerquois" (in French). 1 September 2011.

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