Dutch is primarily spoken in the Netherlands and Belgium (where it is called Flemish). While Dutch itself does not have an extensive range of accents compared to some other languages, there are regional variations in pronunciation and vocabulary that can be considered as different accents or dialects. Here are some notable accents within the Dutch language:
Standard Dutch in the Netherlands is called ABN, which stands for “Algemeen beschaafd Nederlands”. This is the standardized form of Dutch used in formal settings, education, and the media. It is mainly based on the accent of the provinces of North and South Holland, specifically the Randstad region, which includes cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht.
Spoken in the southern Dutch province of Noord-Brabant, this accent is characterized by its soft pronunciation and elongated vowels. Although the Dutch language is most associated with the typical hard sounding G, you will not hear this sound in Brabant. The accent is often associated with cities like Eindhoven, Tilburg, and ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
This accent is spoken in the province of Limburg, both in the Netherlands and Belgium. Limburgs has its own distinct pronunciation, vocabulary, and intonation patterns, which can vary within the region. Some foreigners might describe the hard sounding G in Dutch as a throat condition, but just like in Brabants the G in Limburgs is pronounced in a very soft matter.
Spoken in the province of Zeeland, this accent has a unique pronunciation and vocabulary influenced by its coastal location. It can vary between the eastern and western parts of Zeeland.
This accent is spoken in the western part of the province of West Flanders in Belgium. It has distinct pronunciation features, including the use of guttural sounds, and differs from the accents found in the eastern part of Flanders. West-Flemish and Dutch are officially the same language however different words and patterns are used in both dialects. When learning Dutch it is highly recommended to determine which one of the two you would like to learn, because they specifically differ in spoken word.
Spoken in the province of Groningen in the Netherlands, Gronings is known for its distinctive pronunciation and vocabulary. It shares some similarities with Low German dialects due to the region’s historical connections.
This accent is spoken in the eastern provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel. It has variations within the region, but generally features some similarities to Low Saxon dialects with unique pronunciation patterns and vocabulary.
The Utrechts accent is spoken in the province of Utrecht. It has distinct features such as the “Gooise R,” which is a rolled or trilled ‘R’ posh sound.
While Standard Dutch is based on the accent of the province of South Holland, there are regional variations within this province. Westlands accent in South Holland has its own characteristics, including a somewhat sharper pronunciation and intonation. Also d and t’s are usually not conjugation in the way they should be according to Standard Dutch. In spoken form it sounds almost like a song due to the amount of vowels that are added in any given word.
Westhoeks is a dialect spoken in the western part of the province of West Flanders in Belgium. It has distinct pronunciation and vocabulary compared to other Flemish accents.
Spoken in the eastern part of Gelderland, primarily in the Achterhoek region, this accent has similarities to Low Saxon dialects with its own pronunciation and vocabulary. Those that speak Achterhoeks often claim that because of foreign influences anyone from the Netherlands to Poland is able to understand you when speaking Achterhoeks.
The Twents accent is spoken in the region of Twente in the eastern part of the Netherlands, primarily in the province of Overijssel. It has unique pronunciation features and vocabulary. The consonants often determine how well you can recognise the spoken Twents word, because vowels are often not cleary (if at all) pronounced. Twents is not recognised as dialect however there are many books you can find that are written in Twents. A standard Dutch speaker would have a hard time to be able to read books like these.
In Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America, Dutch is one of the official languages. The Dutch spoken in Suriname has its own accent influenced by the country’s diverse linguistic and cultural heritage. Although the pronunciation of words differ in the language the grammer and proper way to speak are highly valued in Surinam.
Also on the Caribbean islands of Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire Dutch is widely spoken along with Papiamento. Although the pronunciation of the vowel differs greatly from Standard Dutch it is very easy for Caribbean Dutch speakers and Standard Dutch Speakers to understand each other.
These are just a few examples of accents within the Dutch language. It’s important to note that within each region, there can also be variations between cities and even neighborhoods, resulting in further localized accents or dialects. The beautiful thing about the Netherlands is that you can drive through it within 3 hours, but you’ll come across a different accents every 10 minutes.
Just one last note:
How about Frisian? Or “Fries” called in Dutch? Frisian is not in the list of Dutch accents and dialects. This is due to the fact that it is recognised as an official language. Frisian is part of the West Germanic Languages and would be considered more close to the old English language than to Dutch.