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Language, please tell me what I want to hear

London, United...
Level Contributor
641 posts
31 reviews
Language, please tell me what I want to hear

Hello everyone, my sister has booked us on a surprise 3 day cruise to Antwerp and Amsterdam my concerns are although I speak English and broken French I don't speak any Flemish or Dutch am I likely to encounter many problems?

11 replies to this topic
Breda, The...
Level Contributor
5,892 posts
8 reviews
1. Re: Language, please tell me what I want to hear

You will encounter problems if you try to speak French, since in both Antwerpen and Amsterdam Dutch is the official language. However if you speak English you will be fine. Most people you will encouter as a tourist will speak English fluently.

London, United...
Level Contributor
641 posts
31 reviews
2. Re: Language, please tell me what I want to hear

Thank you so much Breda you've set my mind at rest 😀

Champlon, Belgium
Level Contributor
9,503 posts
5 reviews
3. Re: Language, please tell me what I want to hear

The only place in Antwerpen where you would encounter any difficulties would be in the town hall, the staff there are forbidden to speak anything other than Dutch (even though they almost certainly can speak at least English and probably French). Official notices will only be in Dutch, of course.

Liverpool, United...
Level Contributor
20,256 posts
76 reviews
4. Re: Language, please tell me what I want to hear

If you are going to attempt to speak Dutch at least get it right!

I was in Den Engel in the centre of Antwerp and ordered two De Koninck's but ended up with three! I'd been practicing for weeks, but obviously said "drie" instead of "twee"! 😂

Antwerp, Belgium
Level Contributor
4,325 posts
21 reviews
5. Re: Language, please tell me what I want to hear

Even French would be okay... We are very peaceful people here.

Breda, The...
Level Contributor
5,892 posts
8 reviews
6. Re: Language, please tell me what I want to hear

“Even French would be okay... We are very peaceful people here.”

The OP is asking about Antwerpen AND Amsterdam. While the people in Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands have an excellent understanding of English, French is far less spoken. So that’s why I told the OP to just stick to English and don’t bother with French.

Bath UK
Destination Expert
for Bath
Level Contributor
2,807 posts
69 reviews
7. Re: Language, please tell me what I want to hear

Just back from a rather wet week in the Netherlands and Belgium. If we smiled and simply said "hi" when we reached a person we wanted to buy something from I think we were addressed in English 90% of the time. If you have a smartphone get a translation app (not 100%, but I have been rather excited at being able to take a photo of a menu/parking sign and have it approximately translated from Dutch into English)

In an Aldi near the French border, I did notice a cashier switch to French for a customer who must have been buying at least 50l of milk and a couple of sandwich loaves (presumably it is cheaper in Belgium?)!

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
33,008 posts
62 reviews
8. Re: Language, please tell me what I want to hear

I usually asked "I'm sorry, I don't speak Dutch. Is English Ok? Ou Francais?" I'd say it was about 95 : 5 in favour of English. There was no one and no where that we encountered significant language issues with those two languages at our disposal. The vast majority of people in Flanders and Amsterdam had extremely good English.

London, United...
Level Contributor
641 posts
31 reviews
9. Re: Language, please tell me what I want to hear

Brilliant thanks for all the reassurances, as English is my first language and the only one my sister speaks I'm totally confident now 😊

Lier, Belgium
Level Contributor
583 posts
10 reviews
10. Re: Language, please tell me what I want to hear

It would be a good idea to learn to say ´goeie dag' and ´dank u ´. Hello and thanks.

French is also widely spoken in Antwerpen.

Dutch is actually slightly different from Flemish and is one of the reason I am always upset in Amsterdam as Hollanders will switch to English when I speak Flemish. But you are not likely to have the problem.

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