Languages of Belgium

Most people expect to hear Dutch or French in Belgium, but what surprises many is that the country has not two, but three official languages. Unlike other countries in Europe that have successfully created a united national identity out of multiple linguistic communities Belgium’s linguistic diversity has become a political affair in recent years.

Here are some basic words translated into Flemish:

Hello: Hallo

Goodbye: Tot ziens

Please: Alsjeblieft

Thanks: Dank je

You’re welcome: Graag gedaan

Yes: Ja

No: Nee

While these are basic words translated into French:

Hello: Bonjour

Goodbye: Au revoir

Please: S’il te plaît

Thanks: Merci

You’re welcome: De rien

Yes: Oui

No: Non

languages in Belgium

Language Percentage

  1. Flemish (Dutch):  60% (6.5 million)
  2. French: 40% (4.5 million) 
  3. German: 1% (75,000 thousand)

Brussels is officially bilingual, with all street signs, transportation information, and even commercial advertising presented in both French and Flemish. But the reality of this supposedly bilingual utopia is very different from what the reality is. Despite the fact that Brussels is the capital of the European Union and home to thousands of international companies and organizations, you absolutely need some level of French if you want to complete the everyday challenges of getting a haircut, visiting a doctor, or shopping at the supermarket.