Is Bruges too much like Amsterdam?

Old Jun 24th, 2015, 04:17 AM
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Actually, Brussels is the only officially bi-lingual area of Belgium. Each province is either French-speaking or Dutch-speaking (except for one province that is German-speaking), but Brussels is officially bi-lingual (French/Dutch).
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Old Jun 24th, 2015, 06:06 AM
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Thanks for your impressions.
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Old Jun 24th, 2015, 02:21 PM
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As an aside: Is the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands the same as that spoken in the Flemish areas of Belgium? Is there a different accent?
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Old Jun 24th, 2015, 03:02 PM
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According to my Former Beloved (a Belgian, co-mother tongue Dutch and French), Netherlands and Belgian Dutch have the same grammar, but there are many vocabulary differences.

There are similar differences between the French spokem in Belgium and France -- for example, the numbers 70 and 90 are the sensible <i>septante</i> and <i>nonante</i> in Belgium, instead of <i>soixante-dix</i> and the algebraic-nightmare <i>quatre-vingt-dix</i> in France. Even the pronunciation of Belgium's capital is different in Belgian French (BROO-sell) and France French (BROOK-zell).
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Old Jun 24th, 2015, 11:41 PM
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The Dutch spoken in the Netherlands is basically the same as in Flanders, but the accent (*) and the sound are different, as well as some of the vocabulary. Dutch spoken by people from the Netherlands is sharp (from the throat) ; Flemish is soft.

Accents: even within Flanders we have many different accents and dialects. People from the eastern tip of Flanders will sometimes have a hard time to properly understand people from the western tip ... less than 250 km from each other!
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Old Jun 25th, 2015, 04:02 AM
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So if I get a Dutch app to learn a few words of politeness, will I be okay with a "generic" Dutch voice? And will my high school French help me in Wallonia?
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Old Jun 25th, 2015, 05:28 AM
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> So if I get a Dutch app to learn a few words of politeness,
> will I be okay with a "generic" Dutch voice?
> And will my high school French help me in Wallonia?

I've traveled a lot, and I have never been to a non-English-speaking country where people did not appreciate a visitor who has taken the time to learn polite phrases, even if they mispronounce them.

And if you use Dutch phrases, you will mispronounce them once you get beyond <i>dank u wel</i> (thank you). If you're using a phrasebook, you'll also get a slightly wrong word for 'please' (in the Netherlands, it's <i>alsjeblieft</i> but in Flanders it's <i>alstublieft</i>, because Belgians use the less formal word for 'you'). But you'll still be understood. Also, because Dutch is the Chinese of European languages, you'll surely assassinate words that contain the letter g, like <i>goedemorgen/goedemiddag</i> (good afternoon/good morning). And don't even think about talking about Vincent van Gogh. All that said, a mispronounced polite word is far better than English-only, even though most people you'll encounter while in tourism-related places will speak English well.
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Old Jun 25th, 2015, 07:26 AM
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I've traveled a lot, and I have never been to a non-English-speaking country where people did not appreciate a visitor who has taken the time to learn polite phrases, even if they mispronounce them.
__________
France, especially Paris.
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Old Jun 25th, 2015, 10:01 AM
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I don't think most people really know if locals "appreciate" it or not, I think a lot of that is speculation. I usually do learn at least polite phrases, and I can speak Spanish rudimentarily (better than some cab drivers speak English there, for example) and I speak French much better, but not in any country did any native speaker say whether they appreciate it or not when I spoke their language. Even in France, where I can get by quite well, no one has said we really appreciate that you can speak French. In fact, they sometimes criticize your accent in Paris--they know I'm not native, you can tell, but they should be able to understand me as I am not pronouncing things totally wrong. A native French-Canadian told me Parisians claim they can't understand him, either, and it's his native tongue, even though I could understand his French perfectly well, for example.

Personally, as a resident in a city with tons of foreign visitors, if I run into anyone doing tourist things and they can only speak a few words of English, I don't really appreciate it or not. It just isn't something that enters my mind (gee, I really appreciate that they can say "excuse me" or "thank you" in English and nothing else). I just don't judge visitors one way or another in that regard. Actually, once I ran into some French tourists in the US and they were glad that I could speak French as they had some questions about directions and sightseeing, they had no problem with me speaking French to them in the US and could understand me, which I thought was funny as in Paris, sometimes certain staff (waiters,etc) won't "let" you speak French. So no, I don't think they appreciate it in Paris, at least. They are nicer in other parts of the country in that regard.

So I just personally think people assume that they appreciate it and others just repeat that, but to a lot of locals, we just don't really think about it that much, one way or another.
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Old Jun 25th, 2015, 12:10 PM
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Once in Amsterdam I stood in line to use a payphone that worked with prepaid cards (remember those?) behind an Israeli family who had escaped pesach and were weathering that holiday in Amsterdam. The person before them had jammed the card into the cardslot, so it couldn't be used, but you had to look closely to find out that there was a malfunction. I did spot it, so I said to them, in Hebrew: "it's no use, the card is jammed, better find another payphone." They turned around and thanked me, but didn't seem at all surprised that I'd spoken Hebrew to them.
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Old Jun 25th, 2015, 03:15 PM
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I guess it is all who you run into. My French worked fine all over France. Well, except for an exchange with one snippy waiter in Juan-les-Pins who had to correct my grammar...LOL. I enjoy learning a bit of the language.

DonTopaz: I a going to definitely have to get an app to hear those sounds. I practiced for months on learning a few phrases in Welsh, then had trouble finding someone in Wales who spoke the language. Ha!

Sorry to hijack this thread. I'm looking forward to the differences in Bruges and Amsterdam-linguistic and culinary and architectural....
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Old Jun 26th, 2015, 09:01 PM
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We just returned from visiting Amsterdam, Bruges, and Ghent last Tuesday. Amsterdam is exactly as advertised; we liked it but it was not one of our favorite cities. Of course, we are in our 40's and aren't really into the party scene.

We stayed out a bit on the 2 tram at the Best Western Premier Couture. Great rate and an easy tram ride to the center. Recommend Omelegg and Bagels and Beans for breakfast.

We decided to stay in Ghent and visit Bruges from there (hotels less expensive) and Ghent was the surprise city of this trip. It has an old town like Bruges but it was more of a "real" city than Bruges. We liked it so much that we ended up using 2 days for Ghent and one for Bruges. Bruges was an easy 30 minute train ride from Ghent @ 15 euros each way.

As others have said, both are 100% different from Amsterdam. Can't give a hotel recommendation for Ghent b/c we were not thrilled with the one we stayed in.
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Old Jun 26th, 2015, 09:02 PM
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Oops, I should have said 15 euros each way for both of us.
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