"W" in Flanders

Discussion in 'Nederlands (Dutch)' started by rambo, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. rambo New Member

    It is said that "W" is pronounced in Flanders mostly as English "w". However, to be honest, I have NEVER ever heard anyone using English "w" in words ike Welkom, Wat, Wie, Wij/we etc. Everyone I heard pronounced the "w" sound just like they do in the Netherlands. I lived in Torhout, West Flanders. Most important - I travelled throughout Flanders and on the train and at the rail stations and at the airports they have never used the English "w" sound! I searched the Internet to find music or movies or tv shows where the English "w" would be heard. Nothing! I listened to the Belgian pop music, radio, watched films on youtube and I found nothing!

    Is using the English "w" sound in Flemish a myth?
    Could anyone from Flanders give me a small voice sample to prove me I'm wrong?
  2. Brownpaperbag

    Brownpaperbag Senior Member

    Terni, Italy
    Dutch (Netherlands)
    They do pronounce the /w/ the English way but not necessarily. Listen to any newsbroadcast on youtube.

  3. rambo New Member

    I did and I did't hear it. Would you be so nice and give me a link?
  4. Suehil

    Suehil Medemod

    Tillou, France
    British English
    Maybe the problem is that the Flemish 'w' isn't quite the same as the English one; it's somewhere between the English and the Dutch.
    I can imagine someone who expects to hear a purely English sound being disappointed.
  5. HKK

    HKK Senior Member

    3010 Leuven, Be.
    Let's consider the word 'west' which means the same thing in English and Dutch and is also pronounced almost the same.

    In English you will start with puckered lips for the W, and end up with stretched lips for the E. Somewhere in the middle, your lips will be in a more or less relaxed state.
    In Dutch, pronounced the Flemish way, you don't start off with puckered lips, but skip directly to the relaxed phase.

    Another exercise may be to say (like in English) 'ooowest'. Now to catch the Flemish pronunciation, try to erase all the 'oo-influence'.

    As for the Dutch-style W, its sound is further removed from the English pronunciation since it's not bilabial but labiodental.
  6. Brownpaperbag

    Brownpaperbag Senior Member

    Terni, Italy
    Dutch (Netherlands)
  7. rambo New Member

    @Suehil That is very nice. With the Dutch "W" being already a mix of English V,B and W, it is nice to hear, that the Belgian sound is now a mix of the Dutch "W" and English "W"! :rolleyes:

    @HKK How is then the Flemish "W" described in IPA? As far as I know it's described as [w] voiced labiovelar approximant - the same as in English!

    Now, please tell me that IPA is wrong.

    [No links to Youtube allowed. Please read the rules.
    Frank, moderator]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2010
  8. rambo New Member

    They claim they are not under the influence of the Netherlands in terms of language but they are and they do speak it the Dutch way.

    [No links to Youtube allowed. Please read the rules.
    Frank, moderator]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2010
  9. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch

    IPA doesn't always account for all phonetic differences, it's still schematic.

    Basically Northern Dutch pronunciation of <w> is labiodental, while it is bilabial in the South, as it is in English. That's all. There are differences in degrees of friction, especially if you also compare to the pronunciation of people from Suriname.
  10. Grytolle Senior Member

    Swedish - Swedish
    Because it was labeled uncivilized when they started propagating standard Dutch :) The bilabial variant was said to be okay (and has become the only standard) as long as it wasn't too rounded, which would sound vulgar
  11. rambo New Member

    I see :)

    But I really, really, really want to hear a voice sample of that Belgian bilabial sound :)
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2010
  12. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Have you tried the resource pages of this forum, for example http://www.acapela-group.com/text-to-speech-interactive-demo.html.
    On this website, you can type a few simple words and select BE/NL voices (pronunciations) to listen to the difference.



    PS: I really don't want to curb your enthusiasm, but WR is quite strict about links to Youtube videos.
    Frank, moderator
  13. Grytolle Senior Member

    Swedish - Swedish
  14. Hitchhiker Senior Member

    Washington DC USA
    In Suriname I think W might be even closer to English W than in Belgium. When I studied in Belgium a Belgian girl from Limburg told me that to avoid confusion between V and W when spelling, such as on the telephone, that they would pronounce the name of the letter V as /vi/ (instead of /ve/ ) and W as /we/ because people from the Netherlands or other places find it difficult to tell V from the Dutch W, but other people have told me they have never heard this. Normally on the telephone, people in Belgium spell using words in place of the letters.
  15. rambo New Member

    After all you have written here, I conclude that there is no English "W" in Flemish at all ;(

    Thank you folks.
  16. jacquesvd Senior Member

    Click http://www.oddcast.com/home:demos/tts/frameset.php?frame1=talk

    enter a word (e.g. wegenwerken), chose Dutch, then click on say it and you'll hear the Flemish prononciation from Ellen, the Dutch one from Saskia
  17. jacquesvd Senior Member

  18. killerbees Senior Member

    Philadelphia, PA
    English [US]
    Well, it wouldn't be half as interesting if everyone made all the same sounds :D

    I think HKK's explanation of things is pretty close to perfect, but I would just like to add that you'll find a significant difference if you pay attention to your tongue and your lips when you're pronouncing the English 'w'. You'll notice that the sound happens mostly toward the center/back of your tongue. If you mimic the Flemish 'w' being discussed, you'll notice that the vibration occurs more or less at your lips.

    I suppose it's a relatively minor detail, but it results in some interesting pronunciations of English 'w' by non-native speakers (e.g. in the US, where non-native speakers of English are frequently native Spanish speakers, you will periodically hear a soft /g/ precede the 'w' because the closest corresponding sound in Spanish lacks the vibration over the back part of the tongue and this nuance is often stressed in ESL classes.)
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2010
  19. Jampuppy New Member

    English - US & UK
    I lived in Schoten (a town just NE of Antwerp) for 4.5 years and the pronunciation I always heard was almost identical to the English 'w', as expressed in the link from jacquesvd.

    Wilrijk is a nearby town we frequented and it sounds like will-rike, but yes, I say it is almost identical. You'd probably get a wablief? (with a 'w') if you pronounced it as a 'v' - and get your answer in German. lol

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